Re: Election Ads of Mitch Rhodes
Council candidate Mitch Rhodes has expressed concerns about Whistler's finance and budget matters in his ads that are either misleading or actually in error. Whistler has an excellent financial position long term debt is falling, investment income is rising, spending is controlled in a rapidly rising assessment base and capital projects are saved up for on a "pay as you go" basis. It is important because of this criticism to set the record straight so voters can make their decision with the benefit of true information and circumstances. As a member of the last council, I can provide extra information and reasoning to assist Mr. Rhodes in his investigation.
The matter of concern he lists can be clarified and set straight as follows:
$1 Million Web Site $1 million was not spent on a Web site. This was a staff proposal brought forth at a public meeting and withdrawn after discussion and input from council and the public. Staff proposals are encouraged and presented in public where possible.
$1.5 Million Fire Hall Spring Creek fire hall's budget in the 5 Year Financial Plan is over $1.8 million for construction and furnishings. This reflects the LEEDS Gold green building design which provides efficiencies over the life of the building to reduce the over-all cost package to below that of an environmentally inefficient design. Whistler Municipality is leading the way in green buildings. Not only will that save money in the long run, but it also shows our commitment as a community to the environment through sustainable design.
$3 Million Millennium Place No taxpayers money has been spent on Millennium Place's capital program. All money to construct Millennium Place was raised privately. I helped the RMOW renew the MYMP mortgage with a guarantee that has allowed an interest saving of 3 per cent or over $100,000 per year. The $3.5 million guarantee is secured by $2 million of committed pledges and by the entire $7 million project a solid and safe investment.
$740,000 Whistler, It's Our Future This is the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, which will replace our old, out-dated Official Community Plan. Victoria requires us to have an Official Community Plan. To plan and consult with the community on where we're going, this overall budget has been set aside. It represents about 3 per cent of 2001 RMOW capital expenditures or less than 4/10 of 1 per cent of Whistler's financial assets.
$10 Million Library Museum The municipality has assisted in crown land being donated by the province and will contribute up to $5 million of construction costs for this library/museum/underground parking structure/commercial and retail project only after $5 million in private donations have been raised.
There is no tax increase panned for any Callaghan development nor is there any plan for 8,000 beds. If the 2010 Games go forward, the provincial government has committed funds for infrastructure. This would only be if the community decides together that there should be affordable housing development. If the Games don't happen, there may be other better sites. There may be better sites anyway but having new options we didn't have before will certainly contribute to affordability for residents, not the opposite as Mr. Rhodes fears.
Mr. Rhodes says a resort tax is being considered and says no. In fact, financial tools being discussed with Victoria could include shared PST, expanded hotel tax, a targeted resort sales tax or other fair but balanced user-pay initiatives to allow the tourist/visitor to help pay for our resort amenities. Mr. Rhodes is condemning Whistler taxpayers to pay for all of our resort infrastructure ongoing and permanently. Why shouldn't our guests share in the cost of the resort? Whistler needs to control and manage the tax burden of property owners and renters!
Whistler's financial record, cost control and spending levels have not been a weakness, quite the opposite in fact. Many people have been hit hard by rapidly rising assessments but the average growth in municipal taxes for the average residential taxpayer has been held by a decreasing tax rate to less than 1 per cent per year since 1996. Our investment income continues to bring in about $2.5 million per year. Capital expenditures are carefully controlled. They are higher than other B.C. municipalities because of extra resort amenities but sustainability less than our competitor resort, Vail, Colorado. Whistler is tightly managed and doing well.
I would be glad to discuss any of the foregoing with any taxpayer or anyone interested in Whistler and its future.
Mr. Milner is a candidate for council.
I am tired of the poor beaten dog stories. But because humans are what they are I am forced to write this story. I hope it offends you as much as it does me. Here is the picture that wouldnt leave my brain, and held me ransom over Christmas.
My lucky family and I were heading to a wonderful resort for the holidays. Rather than drive the Vancouver route to Harrison we opted for an adventure that would take us along the Lillooet Lake and then connect us with Harrison Lake and then on to our destination. We began our trip Christmas Eve at 11 a.m. Ten minutes out of Pemberton my eyes strayed to the right and witnessed a horrid sight. A small black dog was desperately trying to get away from a man that was seemingly determined to vent his anger on it. The dog was impossibly thin and was stumbling over its already broken leg. This picture will stay with me always. My husband did not see it, we were running late, we had to keep going. I had probably misinterpreted what I saw. Broken leg, starving and beaten dog, not in my back yard! My husband knew I was upset and assured me that he would drive by when we got home. I felt slightly better.
We arrived home after a brilliant family Christmas. All was well! I quietly prodded my tolerant better half into checking on my ugly vision. Some time later I heard a truck horn. We went outside and to my amazement there cuddled up to my husband was an incredibly sad little animal that turned out to be the very dog that spent Christmas in my minds eye. Unlike my holidays I know that this poor creature hadnt had a warm safe place to sleep or even any food in its stomach, let alone any help with its dangling leg. We brought the bewildered animal inside and gave her food. It was painful to watch her gulp down every drop. All of us marvelled at the unspeakable suffering that this dog had endured and survived.
I took her to the vet the next day. A x-ray was taken and the verdict was given. This young dog has taken a direct kick to its shoulder which had completely smashed the upper bone. The frightening part was that it had happened six weeks-plus ago and had healed in its own and was completely useless. It would have to be amputated. In summary she had been kicked hard enough to totally shatter her shoulder, then left with no food or medical care to aid in her suffering. If a dog could beg for a bullet to the brain I'm sure she would have, unfortunately her owner didn't think it was worth the effort.
My point in writing this letter will probably escape the very group of people that it is meant to target. I have a burning desire to know why one would get a dog if they had no intention of feeding or even bothering to notice it. It can't feel good to neglect and abuse, but if it is all that one knows then maybe it is better than nothing. Can this be true?
The place this dog came from will be visited by the police and a complaint will be issued against them. This is all that can be done.
"Jill," as we have named her, has now been with us for a week. She will go in for surgery very soon and then when she heals will be adopted through WAG. Jill tugs at our heart. She isn't an expensive purebred; she is just a sweet, kind, loving little dog that was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are many like her that are still suffering, dying and dead. Jill cannot look after herself, we must do it for her. Is that so bloody difficult? You'd think we lived in a Third World country and not 30 minutes from Whistler. My own native Indian grandmother handed down her legacy of compassion and respect for all life. What has gone wrong here?
Now that Vancouver is committed to a referendum on the 2010 Olympics, one has to wonder why Whistler's new council isn't also taking a similar step in the democratic process. The golden opportunity is upon us, at next to no cost, a simple question could be added to the upcoming election ballot. This would settle the question once and for all. After all, it is what the community wants, just to be asked the question.
Karen Smith Williamson
George W. Bush and G.D. Maxwell have a common problem with rules: G.W.'s problem is with the United Nations rules making it difficult for him to move his questionable agenda forward, and G.D.'s is with existing Municipal election tie-breaker rules. A council position is largely a thankless task and a hard-working councillor probably gets paid as much an hour as a burger flipper plus some candidates have to read Max calling them losers in print. During the campaign leading up the November municipal election the senior staff, writers and owners of the Pique Newsmagazine actively worked with their partners to push forward their own candidates, as we all have the right to do, but then went the extra step and used the newsmagazine to additionally endorse those candidates to a readership that may or may not have been aware of those interests. And now even the election rules and the fact that a bunch of candidates are fighting on has you worked up into a nasty lather?
At a time when a lot of outside organizations have their own agendas and want to get a piece of control in our successful resort town, we need politicians who can use the existing rules to benefit their constituents. Negotiate deals to our advantage and not let us be sucked dry like some resource town of the 50's. Get up when they are knocked down. We need some fighters in our corner heck if everyone took to heart your advice that "y'all lost" this would be a community of quitters and politicians who rely on columnists, editors and publishers for leadership.
What are you still doing here?
Thank you to both Stephanie for all your hard work on council and Bob, you have both given so much to this community. Best of luck to all the candidates running again. You are all winners.
Editors note: the writer is part of Ted Milners campaign team. No Pique reporters were part of any candidates campaign.