Letters to the Editor for the week of April 7th 

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Many more questions

Firstly, we would like to thank Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staff in the Planning Department who worked closely with us in the preparation of our DVP1116 application (in-fill housing).

Whilst guiding us through a labyrinth of rules and regulations, you always worked with professionalism, care, and diligence. Obviously nothing was guaranteed; however, based on your understanding of the RI1 zoning law, it was a strong application.

Following on from the council meeting on March 15 where our DVP1116 application was reviewed, denied and a moratorium placed on RI1 zoning in just under 60 minutes, and the subsequent article in the Pique, "Denied variance permit raises questions for Whistler family" (March 24), we have many more questions.

Why does the RMOW employ well-educated, highly qualified town planners if mayor and council so casually dismiss their reports and recommendations?

Not one councillor commented on the strength of the application outlined in the 18-page report, but instead chose to question the validity and integrity of the information included in it.

If RI1 zoning is current law, how can this be questioned?

It's a shame that a policy such as this, which took years of research, consultation with community, drafts and eventually adoption, could so carelessly be abandoned. That's not to mention the thousands and thousands of taxpayers' dollars that have already gone into it, and now with the moratorium issued to have more tax dollars allocated to it for yet more research and consultation.

Back in 2002 when the process started, and throughout the process, the RMOW identified that Alpine could support an additional 116 bed units, which equates to 20 homes. With only one application being successful to date, the return on investment is extremely low, we would think. Wouldn't it be prudent to try and achieve a better return by allowing development under the existing zoning to continue as it was originally set out?

Why has Whistler invested so heavily in creating the Whistler 2020 and Official Community Plan (OCP)?

Mayor and council made no mention of the positive impact this application had on working towards the resort community's aspirations for resident-employee housing, which is expressed in significant detail in the Whistler 2020 under the priority of Enriching Community Life, Built Environment and Resident Housing Strategies.

One would like to think that the time, effort and considerable cost in developing the Whistler 2020 and Official Community Plan (OCP) were to help create a foundation for Whistler to work towards a sustainable future.

Perhaps this is another waste of taxpayers' dollars — creating policies that are not upheld when push comes to shove?

How many councillors truly understand the issue of affordable housing that the community faces year in, year out?

One would expect councillors Jack Crompton, Jen Ford and John Grills to be up to date on the following numbers, as they all sit on the board of the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA). Currently there are 105 single-family dwellings in the resale inventory in Whistler. There are 85 families on that waiting list.

On the WHA website it lists historical resales of properties dating back to 2002. Based on these figures in the past 14 years, there have been 16, that's 16, resales of single-family homes. You don't need to be a mathematician to work out that based on these numbers it will take 83 years to house those 85 families. I guess many of these folk will be after seniors' housing by this time, either that or they will have migrated north or south of Whistler.

Whistler Housing Authority's Mission Statement is as follows:

"Whistler's long-term success as a vibrant resort community is contingent upon retaining a stable resident workforce.

We will partner with the resort community to sustain a range and supply of housing options for Whistler's active and retired workforce."

Doesn't going against this application at the council table completely contradict the initiatives of the WHA statement and therefore would be a conflict of interest for three councillors? (Councillor Grills declared a conflict based on a different issue, however.)

As pointed out by Pique columnist GD Maxwell in two recent articles, "Where is affordable housing in the 2016 Budget" (March 10) and "Let's do the math on building more employee housing" (March 17) it is very clear that the affordability index in Whistler is way off and as a result of this imbalance Whistler is losing the future stakeholders and leaders of this community. This will only serve as a detriment to our society as a whole.

We have lost count of the number of good quality people that have poured their heart and soul into Whistler, only to come to the realization that if they want to provide a single-family home for their family in order to grow roots, their future is brighter elsewhere.

For the already established and those that opposed this application we encourage you to pause and consider more than just yourselves and the impact that two houses instead of one house would actually have on your street.

Watching the footage of the council meeting and trying to make sense of what unfolded, as well as deciphering the comments made by the mayor and councillors in the Pique article (March 24), it is our opinion that when you peel back the layers, what is left at the core is NIMBYism at its worst, period.

One thing that is reassuring is to have had many people from the professional and business community of Whistler reach out offering their comments and supporting the issues as we have outlined above. This is far more than our application being denied; it's a community issue that runs deep and I expect the conversation is only just getting started.

We need opportunities in order to create secure affordable homes for our families. The creation of the RI1 Zoning that was adopted back in 2008 was to add a no-cost employee housing initiative and an alternative to WHA, giving people tools to work with in order to provide more affordable housing solutions, so why take it away?

Michelle and Mark Forster

Lorimer Shenher's book discussion

I would like to thank all of those who attended the event on March 31, 2016 at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) with Lorimer Shenher. I was happy to see so many local people come out to support the event, and I appreciate those who drove from Vancouver, Squamish, Pemberton and Mount Currie to come hear Lorimer speak. What an amazing night filled with heartache, questions, sympathy, togetherness, strength and healing.

Thank you to the local businesses that hung Red Dresses honouring the Aboriginal women who have gone missing or have been murdered. Thank you to:

Maury Young Arts Centre
The Whistler Public Library
The Oracle
Avalanche Pizza

And of course SLCC – who has supported me, organizing this event since day 1.

I must also give a huge thank you to Lorimer Shenher who drove up from Vancouver to speak. You are an amazing man.

Thank you for sharing your words and your voice when so many people have a hard time doing so. I don't believe you understand your worth and how much you are appreciated. But then again... as you would say you are "a great writer but terrible author." (You see... Lorimer has a hard time promoting his book — his real passion is writing.) Lorimer I find very humble.

So, may I recommend those who have not yet picked up his book titled, That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away please do so! You may pick it up at SLCC or Armchair Books. It is a disturbing subject but it is honest and a must read.

I feel truly blessed to live in this wonderful community and to have such special people in my life.

Lorimer, remember the meaning of the canoe — togetherness, teamwork, journey and strength. I hope to see you back in Whistler soon with your family.

Linda Epp – Sechelt Nation

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