I guess I am reluctantly joining the ranks of the "old farts league" but damn, I still love this place called Whistler.
Picking up one of my old ski poles I point out to a friend a wetland that is now a golf course and residential area. The ski poles get used year around cause the pegs aren't as solid as they used to be. I still run longer and swim more than ever just to try to keep within sight of those younger skiers, boarders, mountain bikers, kayakers and climbers. Damn again, I'm left in the dust. They build roads and housing where I used to enjoy the unspoiled views. They scare away the wildlife and wonder why problems occur when wildlife ventures back into the human realm.
When I was younger I thought those older than myself always whined a bit too much about the way it was yesterday. My excuse now is that maybe our sense of what is really valuable takes a long time to mature, similar to a good wine. Please bear with me because as a new budding "old fart" I'm going take a bit of time to say something very simple.
The five Whistler futures (the 20 year plan) have brought me out of my den. We as residents of Whistler have had a lot of major considerations thrown at us in the past few years. New buzz words like "sustainability", environmentally friendly, five pillars, green (everything green), affordability, the Natural Step, Olympics 2010, employee housing, recreational tenures and a gigantic host of others have steadily barraged us through the print media, town meetings, radios and council meetings. So much is thrown up at the citizens of this fine town that I think they are becoming a bit deaf to it all. Apathy is beginning to creep into our midst. But guess what? It's a great opportunity for some people or groups to slyly put forth agendas which seem innocuous to the general citizenry but have dire consequences to the masses.
Back to a great word, "sustainability". It has been in the vocabulary for quite some time and there is nothing new about it. Oxford says and I interpret it as "the act of keeping going continuously". God, that's my problem but we've mentioned that! We talk of sustainability, but whose? Do we want to keep our individual incomes sustainable? Do we want to keep our way of life sustainable? Do we want keep the wildlife sustainable? Do we want to keep good drinking water sustainable? Do we want to keep natural habitat sustainable for the wild life? Do we really want and do we really care what others around us want?
I think we all should give this some serious thought because all the "wants" seem to be as numerous as the grains in an hour glass and time is running out.
I strongly feel that the biggest want I have is that Whistler retains that which has made it successful and an enjoyable place for me to live. Those attributes are: a limited build out, adequate amenities for its citizens, small areas of habitation surrounded by natural wilderness areas, areas for the young to play and learn, beautiful landscapes and views, a relatively peaceful retreat for those who come to visit our playground. I feel that we have a successful product and that if we fiddle with it much more and try to be everything to everybody we will destroy Whistler for ever. We cannot infill areas between subdivisions with more housing. We cannot cover the beautiful mountains around us with zillions of ski lifts. We cannot just keep building more grandiose housing and increasing taxes till only the extremely wealthy can afford to live in Whistler. We cannot keep increasing the size of municipal government so they can dream up more and more ways to spend money that we can not truly afford. How about sustainability of municipal government? Does it have to grow? What about the sustainability of our short lived history? The "old farts" that cannot afford to live here because change is forcing them out. We are losing our roots, how ever short they are, and with them goes the vision that was forged when Whistler was first conceived. We need to preserve the original vision of Whistler, not destroy it.
Without torturing you much longer, a comment about Whistlers Five Futures. The process was extremely flawed. There is a hidden agenda to rush this process through and the people of Whistler have not been made fully aware of what is going on. The consultation idea was good but it did not notify the people of Whistler adequately in advance. The time to give comment back on the proposals was extremely short. The municipal government is frothing at the mouth to get going on implementation so that most Whistlerites won't know what has hit them till it is too late. It is always easier to deal with controversy once the deal is done rather than go through the extremely hard work of giving to the community a well thought out solution for the next 20 years that has the backing of the community at large.
Apathy may seem to rule supreme in Whistler but I feel that organizers of the public process have been too lazy to go and confront the citizens directly. Not everyone has the Internet, not everyone gets the newspaper, not everyone goes to council meetings but everyone living here has the right to be consulted on how they wish to see their community develop.
The Five Futures seem to be driven by further development, not preservation of the original vision. Future one says no new development and tells a great tale of bad things to come. Nothing is said about the good that can come if things are shifted just slightly to paint a rosier picture. How about sustainability of a vision from 25 years ago? What is wrong with good chunks of green space surrounding subdivisions, the lack of wall to wall housing and large crowds of people and traffic? Why was the bed unit invented in the first place?
The other futures portray life through rose coloured glasses. They encourage more building, more bed units, more urban sprawl, more construction noise, dust and disruption. They also pit various groups against each other so that a consensus will be won with a very small number of citizens in agreement to achieve a plan that the majority do not want. The contractors and developers will be pitted against those who do not wish development to occur. Those who wish to live and enjoy the outdoor experience will be pitted against the promoters and investors of the real estate. Those who wish to live in peace and contentment will be pitted against those who wish to make Whistler into another madhouse that it was not intended to be when first envisioned.
The various subdivisions are also pitted against each other because each will want the other to take the burden of additional building, the addition of employee housing that is not covered under the bed unit cap. Each is meant to feel the wrath of the general public because not enough housing is provided for employees, yet Whistler has done a better job of supplying on-site accommodation than most resorts of its type. The futures do not seem to address the fact that zoning changes, tax incentives and business-employee incentives could go a long way toward housing more employees in Whistler. The Callaghan proposition pits many different groups against each other. Do we want a Whistler that extends from the Callaghan to Emerald Estates? Will we end up with another economic sector that draws business away from the services of the town centre? Would it be sustainable? Do we want another subdivison?
Sustainability is different to every individual but do not let it cloud our thinking in the next years leading up to the Olympics. There is nothing wrong with saying that the Whistler experiment has been a success. Let us not botch the experiment now by trying to revise the outcome.
British Columbia is a large province that has so much to offer to ourselves and the world. If you want to replicate the experiment give the rest of the province the same opportunities that have been given to Whistler. Give the government help, give the energy and enthusiasm of the builders and contractors, give the secrets of Whistler's success today to new areas of the province to enhance and build. Let the old farts live in peace and allow the young to go out and create their own visions with our help. Sustain the original vision!
Re: Sea to Sky Speeding
People have been driving over edges, into rock faces, and one another for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I'd wait for the Squamish Coach Lines Saturday morning ski bus, just above Horseshoe Bay. This was back in 71 when Whistler was becoming something.
In those days the highway was in a different incarnation; narrow and serpentine, it wove its way into the mountains over wooden bridges, through mud slides, rock falls, treacherous stretches of black ice, and always the snow.
Lou was at the wheel, a former logging truck operator as I recall. He could handle the road like no one I've ever known. He kept up a pace which pressed the lower boundary of the safty envelope. He was constantly scanning ahead for hazards, and checking mirrors for the occasional lunatic seeking to pass us by. Those that managed to slip by, were often found a few corners further along, over the edge, or into the rock. Lou was a master of the road, and even so, I understand that one day he took an unexpected detour into the ditches of Britannia.
The road has been upgraded many times since those days, allowing greater volumes of traffic to attain higher speeds. Drivers of far less calibre than Lou will continue to plummet over edges, smack into rock faces, and the front ends of on-coming vehicles. It will be more of the same, not less. The only solution to excessive speed, and so called dangerous roads, lies somewhere in the atrophied common sense circuitry, of drivers.
As teachers and students settle into their classrooms, the parents of the Alta Lake School would like to take the time to thank Bruce Stewart of Nesters Market for his continued support of our Childrens Craft Fairs. Our 4th annual Christmas Fair was a tremendous success; the children buzzed with holiday spirit as they made festive crafts, visited the Cookie Fairy and enjoyed puppet shows and a Christmas concert.
A heartfelt thank you also goes out to Mountain FM for helping us spread the word.
See you all at the May Fair!
Jennifer Raffler for
The parents of the Alta Lake School
I cannot believe our dishwasher is broken.... again!
Or could it be that no one was shown how to turn the dial to "on"?
Seems to work when I try it.
And this brand new, polished wood shoe rack right by the front door cannot seem to keep shoes on it. It obviously cannot bear the load of 25 pairs of 10 roommates shoes and throws them on the floor when no one is looking.
Is the vacuum M.I.A? It sucks when I need it to.
I hope the same loud, angry mob doesn't come to your house when you are asleep and leave the same stack of beer cans all over the house for you to discover as you wake up.
Thump-Thump-Thumety-Thump. Ahhhh the sound of Music 24/7. Seems like 24/8.
And I don't recall leaving my clothes outside the dryer on the floor before they were dry!
Anyone seem my socks?
Or my backpack?
What could have possibly happened to my $12 brick of cheddar I just bought? Someone must have thought it was theirs; it was in the same fridge, after all. Silly me to leave unopened food in the fridge. What was I thinking?
At least I am never late for work at 8 a.m. Awakened by the pleasant screams and arguments of roommates grinding through the same routine as I, preparing for a challenging day ahead on the mountain.
Do you smell that? What is it?
I hate opening that darn cupboard under the kitchen sink as I know the only thing worse than the odour is the evil-doer on my feet shortly after opening.
Could be out of garbage bags?
I call b*llsh%t!!!
Funny how these things happen when 10 people from various places in the world, with diverse work and play schedules, and even greater diversity in sanitary standards, converge into a dwelling anywhere in Whistler.
Re: Taxation War on Homeowners, or Property Assessment Battle
Homeowners won a battle last year, thanks to the efforts of Paul O'Mara and Garry Watson, but the war continues.
Once again, the Area Assessor, David Highfield, in his news release, which is reported in the Pique and the Question, declares that assessements are increased for this year.
In his release he states: "Houses on this year's assessment roll are worth more than they were the year before. Market movement appears strong when compared to previous years." He makes the same statement in every cookie-cutter news release sent to all the towns and municipalities in his area.
In the release to West Vancouver, Mr. Highfield goes on to say: "For example, a single family home in Dundarave that sold for $695,000 in the (sic) August 2002, resold for $788,500 in the (sic) June 2003."
In the release addressed to Whistler, Mr. Highfield in contrast says: "For example, a single family home in Creekside that was worth $900,000 in July 2002, sold for $1,100,000 in April 2003."
Anyone can understand a sale price but a "worth" value is not a sale price to who is it "worth" X dollars? In both examples, the question is: What was the assessment last year and what is the assessment this year? The figures he uses as examples are meaningless.
Mr. Highfield is attempting to soft-sell Whistler property owners on increased assessments in the face of the hard facts of a declining market. As Ozzie Jurock reports at the end of November 2003: "Prices are down overall by 11 per cent, chalet prices by 18 per cent, condo prices by 5 per cent and duplexes by 7 per cent!" Sales were down about 50 per cent and if the Pan Pacific Hotel sales are taken out, the picture is even worse.
So, another battle must be faced and, as usual, the Assessor hands us a short time fuse Jan. 31, 2004. And I have not yet, as at Jan. 5, received my assessment notice. When I do, the battle will be on and I hope other home-owners will join in by appealing their assessments. This is the only defence we have in the war against property owners.
Clive V. Nylander
As I read the Best of 2003 issue I think next years poll should include a new category. The Rico Suchy award for stupid acts/ behaviour. If the category were in this years poll, who do you think would win? In one corner we have an escort service owner who kills bears in his spare time and in the other we have David M. Blakemore who used his pen to offend just about everyone in the valley with his thoughts on things he knows nothing about. Lets hope in 2004 we don't see either of these names in the Pique again. Unless it's to name the category after them.
Wow does GD Maxwell have an attitude! (Maxed Out Jan. 2 2004)
Speaking as a regular o/s visitor, if you guys plan to represent Whistler in a positive light to the rest of world by 2010, you should consider the sense of publishing that sort of trashy local opinion. I don't like people skiing into me either, but jamming a ski pole up someone's ass is not the answer.
Likewise, his suggestion of "monkeywrenching" as an antidote for unbalanced urban development policy smacks of a red-necked mob-rule mentality that I thought you Whistlerites would have dispensed with long ago. Or at least had the brains not to validate through publication in your otherwise excellent magazine.