Letters to the editor 

The recent annual shareholders meeting of Intrawest leaves a thought in mind.

It’s time for Joe Houssian to step up to the plate and help the burghers of Whistler. After all, hasn't Whistler-Blackcomb been the flagship of Intrawest? Perhaps it is payback time.

According to the report of the annual meeting of Intrawest shareholders, Mr. Houssian is to be rewarded for his efforts by the directors of Intrawest with a salary of $1.5 million and other compensation for year 2002. Under a new incentive, he may receive $5.4 million if certain financial targets are met by 2004. The consultants chosen by the directors of the company state that a substantial "gap" in compensation to Mr. Houssian exists that must be remedied or presumably Mr. Houssian will head south to greener pastures. By the way, Mr. Houssian is to receive a number of stock options of various kinds as well which, using the Black-Sholes model, will likely translate into a few more million dollars. This economic largesse is being offered by the directors despite the fact that Intrawest has lost $11 million in the last quarter, the share price has fallen by a third and the 88c dividend has not changed for years. Almost smells like a John Roth-Nortel syndrome in the making.

Having stated the case, perhaps it is now timely for Mr. Houssian to be a good corporate citizen and advance a chunk of his largesse to the Whistler community for expansion of urgent housing needs, or an MRI scanner for the Whistler Health Care Centre, or expand the sewage disposal unit at Function Junction to eliminate the trauma to the olfactory segment of our brain as we enter the Whistler environs from the south.

But then I digress.

KC Hill

Burnaby/Whistler

 

The Library and Museum Capital Campaign, along with the recent addition of the Arts Council project, seems to be suffering from a common Whistler ailment – that is, a lack of understanding by the community, which could be due to a lack of communication on our part. I would like to clarify the history of the proposed new building.

A joint library/museum building has been in the planning stages since 1992. A joint facility document commissioned in 1994, The Lord Report , reported that a joint library/museum building would cost $3.2 million (1994 dollars). In this scenario, the library would have a 10-year life span and then would have to expand. The budget did not include professional fees, planning/development costs, parking, furnishings, equipment, and moving the old trailers.

In 1994, the Whistler Library and Whistler Museum and Archives moved into the old post office and doctors’ offices trailers for a three- to five-year time frame. At that time, the municipality committed $2.5 million toward a new facility. Given the importance of the library to the community, and its extensive use by full-time and part-time residents, the Library Board decided to seek municipal status to better serve the community. This took three years to obtain.

In 1999, the municipality assumed responsibility for library service in the community. Also, in 1999, the building program for the library and museum was re-evaluated, resulting in a more realistic time and budget framework to meet the growing needs of an international resort community. At that time, both boards consulted the community for their input into the respective programs and the municipality increased their capital commitment, as a larger, more useable building was planned.

Most municipalities fund a large portion of the cost of a new library. The RMOW is paying for 50 per cent of the building cost and the Library and Museum boards, along with many dedicated community volunteers, are raising funds for the remaining 50 per cent. Thus the $10 million goal. To date, $570,000 has been raised in addition to the municipal commitment.

The library and museum will each have approximately 9,000 square feet. The Arts Council will have two offices and there will be a civic hall and multipurpose room for meetings, receptions, slide shows, and author readings.

A good library is an essential part of any vibrant community. The library will have ample reading area, an enjoyable, quiet place for seasonal and fulltime residents, and our children will have a separate program room to allow activities to occur while the library is open.

A good museum tracks the history of the community, both environmentally and physically. By offering a glimpse of our past, the museum will provide a better understanding of our community today and in the future. It will ensure our history is preserved for future generations. The multi-use facility has been through an extensive planning process. We are not putting gold-plated faucets in the washrooms, but we are building a new library/museum and arts council facility that will see tremendous use from locals, weekenders, seasonal and casual visitors.

I welcome any questions or comments about any aspect of the facility program or please visit our campaign office in the trailer beside the museum, Monday to Friday 8-4., click on www.whistlerlibrarymuseum.org or call 604 932-2222.

Anne Fenwick

Chairperson, Library/Museum Capital Campaign

 

This letter is directed to MLA Ted Nebbeling

Thanks for your letter stating the facts on the state of BC Rail. I have in my possession a railway schedule from 1972. In 30 years the railway did not make any alterations to the daily schedule to increase passenger numbers. What did the Sea to Sky corridor look like then? What would it look like now if there had been a convenient passenger service? Would we have the air pollution and traffic jams? Furthermore, would we have decided to spend millions on upgrading the highway, in order to worsen these effects? Our passenger railway would have seen increased use, had it been allowed to grow as our province has. But it was not.

The Budd Cars don't need to be replaced. Instead, they need $30 million in repairs and maintenance. They wouldn't be in this state if BC Rail had spent the money to maintain them. In reality, they were neglected for many years. This was done to sway public opinion.

It's known that passenger services account for only 2 to 3 per cent of the railways total revenue, and that passenger rail service lost $4.77 million last year and $21.66 million since 1997. This money that was lost didn't come from provincial tax revenue. It came from the profits of the freight services. This means that the people of this province had a public service funded by the profits of a crown corporation. That's why it was in legislation. Unfortunately the passenger train was a public service that was deliberately allowed to fall into disuse. As the public stopped using our rail system, due to an inconvenient schedule, fares were increased to discourage riders. This was done over a period of many years. By cutting a public service, the executives of BC Rail increased the profits of the railway.

The Skytrain cost hundreds of millions to build. The infrastructure I am referring to has already been paid for. Among many proven benefits, railways are one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation. I have read that in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, millions were spent on a new railway. They attempted to hold the first Olympics without the use of the automobile. They may not have succeeded, but at least their thinking was socially and environmentally sound. Do you think a multi-lane highway with multi-lane traffic is a future benefit? Do you really know what the realities of the modern era are?

Bjorn Gimse

Whistler/Lillooet/Pemberton

 

Wow! Wasn’t it fabulous to see the interest that so many residents of Whistler demonstrated in the last month towards our municipal election? What a difference from three years ago! We had real solid candidates running for positions as trustees, councillors, and mayor. There were many controversial issues that surfaced and they were presented strongly to all the candidates. We have a healthy number of new faces on council, which will bring added energy and fresh ideas. A great election and a hearty thank you to everyone who ran. In case it hasn’t crossed your mind, by running for office, "win or lose," you have helped to make our town a better place.

Last week I heard a comment from a young candidate who was running which prompted me to write this letter. "I have spent over $3,000 on my campaign and if I am not elected this time, then that is it for me." Hopefully that won’t be the case, because if someone believes in something as strongly as this person seems to, then they should never give up.

Here is someone who didn’t.

Age 22: Failed at business.

Age 23: Ran for legislature and lost.

Age 24: Failed at another business.

Age 25: Elected to legislature.

Age 26: Girlfriend died.

Age 27: Had nervous breakdown.

Age 29: Defeated for Speaker of the House.

Age 31: Defeated for elector.

Age 34: Defeated for Congress.

Age 37: Elected to Congress.

Age 39: Defeated for Congress.

Age 46: Defeated for Senate.

Age 47: Defeated for Vice President.

Age 49: Defeated for Senate.

Age 51: Elected President.

The man was Abraham Lincoln.

So, failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Keep your voice heard in the community, and hopefully we will see your name on the slate for the next election.

Noel Villard

Whistler

 

On Saturday evening I was incredibly overwhelmed by the election results. Thank you to all my peers and supporters who recognized my abilities and passion to become an elected representative of our community. Kudos to all of the candidates for a great campaign, as well as the media and community organizations that provided numerous opportunities to communicate with the electorate. I look forward to fulfilling and surpassing your expectations, bring new energy and action to the decision making arena.

Thanks also to my unofficial campaign team, particularly Cathy MacLean, Marika Koenig, Devon Brusse, Bob Lorriman, Deanna and Darcy Papineau, Stephanie Reesor and of course the Moe Joe’s/Inside Out Women’s Hockey Team. Special thanks to my "at home" inspirations: Caleigh, Mahon and Grant.

Caroline Lamont

Whistler

 

Thanks for a great election. I would like to thank all of the people who voted for me this year. I had a strong 724 votes and hopefully you will all vote for me again.

I would especially like to thank my family and my wife Tonya for her support; behind every strong man there is a stronger woman. A special thanks to Toad Hall Studios (Sean, Pete, Pepe, Jorge, Michelle and the rest of the crew), WORCA, AWARE, Dean Cote at Whistler Cable, Ryan Robertson, Jeff Leavitt, Tim Thompson, SMD Automotive, Mountain Building Centers, Gordon and Carlene Leidal, Barb McIntyre (Roche), Susie Mortinson and the Whisler Physio, Ross & Beth Harlow, Adam and Marry Protter, Fenton Doyle, Carole and David Mains, Alix and John Nicoll, Les Lawther, The Jarvis’, The Thornhills, Rob Palm, Morgan Smith, Stephanie Matches, Blackcomb Barber, Gone Bakery, Slope Side Supplies and Tony Horn, David Bayliffe, Peak Ventures, Tapley’s, The Old Staff at Garfinkel’s, Citta’s, John and Sheila Walker, Aaron Gibson, Terry Spence, Dave Crowley Band, Geoff Kearney and the Mountain Side Lodge, Ture and Kelly, Fabio, David Ehrardt, The Whistler Village Art Gallery and to the Question for their coverage and to the ethical and great press at the Pique by Andrew Mitchell, Alison Taylor, and Clare Ogilvie. Thanks to all of you who publicly endorsed me as a great candidate and if this tie is not resolved, please continue to encourage people to come and vote for me in January.

My last word on the issues is to stay involved. I researched many of them and found reasonable solutions. Whistler is determining its future and rewriting its OCP to include sustainability, newly acquired lands and possibly the Olympics. These are very big and somewhat sensitive issues for our small town. Most important is our community, the locals who work and live here. To all the hardcore rippers of all ages who keep this resort town on the cutting edge and number one in the world media, take a couple turns for me. Let’s keep it real and make sure its stays fun to live in Whistler.

Have a great ski and snowboard season.

Tyler Mosher

Whistler

 

Don’t drink and drive

This letter was addressed to Jared

I love you like a brother and to think that we both could have died on that foolish night makes aware that we are all responsible for our own actions. Because I was the driver I am responsible for your injuries. I believe our near death experience has opened my eyes to this. Moving forward I am happy that our friendship has endured this test.

My goal is to take this second chance on life and do everthing I can with it and savour the fact that we are both still alive to enjoy it.

Jared, you have my deepest apologies and I know we will be friends forever.

Warren Smith

 

I live on Cheakamus Lake Road. I walk to work every day. The road is a popular road for recreational use, giving people and animals access to Cheakamus Lake and various other outdoor activities. There are not many people who live down this road, but there are a few of us.

I want to say that not all the speed demons are on the highway. I have been nearly hit by big riggs and several other vehicles going down this road, on several occasions. Most of these vehicles are in a big hurry to get to the dump. I am sorry but if you are that behind that is your own fault.

When you first turn onto the road it is clearly posted MAXIMUM 50 KM. I know this is not going to change anything, but I would like the people to know, please slow down. I have lost one loved one to wreckless driving so please let’s not let another person pass away.

Sylvie LaRochelle

Whistler

 

McKeever responds…

The following text in italics is Gordon McKeever’s response to Tourism Whistler’s response (in non-italic type) to an ad he placed.

In order to share the facts with the resort community regarding Tourism Whistler's Central Reservations service, the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler has responded to a political advertisement by Gordon McKeever published in the Whistler Question (Nov. 7) and Pique Newsmagazine (Nov. 8).

Effective Sept. 1, 2002, Tourism Whistler entered into a service agreement with Resort Reservations Network, (RezRez) for the provision of call centre services and the use of an on-line booking engine. Tourism Whistler assets-1-800-Whistler, 'mywhistler.com' and the Tourism Whistler database-continue to be owned by Tourism Whistler, and have not been handed over as suggested by McKeever. The new strategic relationship with RezRez has provided Tourism Whistler with access to the substantial RezRez database for marketing purposes, thereby allowing Tourism Whistler to grow visitation to the resort even more effectively.

While it is true that the WRA maintains ownership of these assets, RezRez experiences their use and benefits. By "handing over" I was referring to the fact that, to the best of my research, there was no "goodwill" price paid for the use of these assets. As per the "Key Terms of the Agreement" as supplied to me by Tourism Whistler, there is no clear contingency for RezRez to pay anything to the WRA for the ongoing use of these assets.

As of Sept. 1, Tourism Whistler's call centre represented six per cent of resort-wide business, not 20 per cent as stated by Mr. McKeever. On a combined basis, Tourism Whistler bookings when added to RezRez's independent bookings currently account for 20 per cent of resort-wide bookings, not one-quarter to one-third as advertised by McKeever.

True, I misunderstood the stated share of 20% as belonging to the WRA only, not the new combined WRA/RezRez share. My best guess (apparently correct) was that RezRez had about a 15% market share. What I could not believe was that the WRA share had shrunk as low as 6% from the 20% it was just a few years ago.

"We can only hope that in future Mr. McKeever chooses to inform himself more fully before taking positions in the press that foster divisiveness in this community," says Rick Clare, Chair of the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler. The agreement between Tourism Whistler and RezRez incorporates specific monitoring mechanisms and controls to ensure that this contractual relationship is of benefit to the members of Tourism Whistler. In addition, detailed monitoring and reporting is being presented at monthly scheduled Tourism Whistler Property Managers' meetings.

Information on this action has hardly been profuse. Most WRA members had not been informed until my ad came out. Is it the action, or exposing the action, that fosters divisiveness? I’ve seen the monitoring mechanisms and the reporting to the property managers, and I’m not impressed. Both the source of the data and the monitoring reference points don’t stand up to scrutiny.

The current relationship with RezRez is for a one-year period. The Board of Directors will be vigilant in its review of the success of this arrangement. The Board will make its decision to proceed with a further term or terminate the relationship based on open dialogue with its constituents, keeping in mind the best interests of the entire resort and the membership of Tourism Whistler.

When was this "open dialogue" to begin? Until my ad, most of the community was not even aware of this huge change. Of the one-year term, three months are almost over and three months notice of change is required, leaving just over six months to make a decision. To change, action must be taken by June 1, 2003. It took eighteen months to confirm RezRez. How hard are alternatives being explored right now?

"Tourism Whistler commends Mayor O'Reilly and Administrator Jim Godfrey in doing an excellent job representing the community interests at the Board table of Tourism Whistler," adds Clare. Business interests are elected by the membership of Tourism Whistler. McKeever refused an invitation by the Nominations Committee of the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler in the spring of 2002 to run for a seat on the Board.

This is false. The Nominating Committee did not invite me to run. I submitted my own name for the Director-at-Large position then withdrew it in order not to compete with a nominee I thought worthy. How unfortunate that the TW response to my ad is focused on discrediting me, rather than addressing the issue.

Tourism Whistler explored its call centre fulfillment options for 18 months prior to entering the agreement with RezRez. Consideration was given to investing in a new software program compatible with the current central reservations system; however, this option was ruled out due to the significant investment required. Such an investment would have led to significantly higher fees or commissions to members and/or reduced marketing investment in a very competitive global environment. After a thorough and competitive RFP process with five solutions providers, and extensive negotiations with two short-listed companies, RezRez was awarded the contract.

With no consultation, and with only two weeks notice, lodging members experienced a 40% increase in the cost of this booking service, jumping from 12% of the revenue from the booking, to approaching 17% (15%+credit card fees).

Gordon McKeever

Whistler

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