Letters to the editor 

Trying to exercise a right

Due to the fact that I will not be in Whistler to vote during our upcoming municipal election, I felt the need to voice my concern over the lack of a mechanism to allow me to vote, as well as my choice of candidates. Yes, I realize that there is advanced voting, but unfortunately those dates do not serve me as I am leaving Whistler Nov. 3 — and, unfortunately, as I found out, there is no other option.

Please let it be known that I if I could vote, my ballot for mayor would go to Ken Melamed. Many of you may not realize the role Ken plays on the international stage. He is highly touted by numerous mayors throughout North America as a role model for his leadership skills — that’s huge recognition. His investment of time and energy into our community is much larger than most community members appreciate.

My vote would also go to the following strong candidates for council: Eckhart Zeidler, Ted Milner, Grant Lamont, Chris Quinlan, Tom Thomson.

I am still undecided for the sixth spot for council.

It pains me that my right to vote will not be exercised this time, but by writing to you I hope that the issue of voting privileges for absentee voters will be addressed some day soon in this community, i.e., the ability to mail in a proxy via electronic systems. (We can buy products on the Internet with secure systems, surely voting this way could be the way of the future.)

Having let you all know my personal choice, I still acknowledge and appreciate all other candidates who have stepped up to the plate to run for office. It shows your dedication and care to our beautiful community.

Cheryl Massey

Whistler

Now not the time to abandon cap

I have some experience and knowledge of the issues and to that extent I wish to share some observations about this election with your readers.

I was surprised on Saturday at the all-candidates’ meeting when Kristi Wells, in response to a pointblank question from a member of the audience, said that she was in favour of lifting the bed unit cap. She described the cap as “archaic.” This was the first time I had heard in this campaign that development on this scale was on Kristi’s agenda. Her speech, delivered moments before, hadn’t come close to mentioning anything about turfing the community plan; nor had she hinted of this in any of her interviews with the media.

Most people who live in Whistler do so because it is a mountain town. We prize the fact that we can be in wilderness after a 5 or 10 minute walk/ski/hike/bike from just about anywhere in the community. In our daily lives, we try to walk gently on this earth. We make our living, for the most part, by sharing our loved town with visitors who have many of the same passions we do. We realize that there is a fine balance between the natural and built environments and tipping too far to the built side of things may result in the death of the proverbial goose. That’s why we have bought in to our community plan and the idea that we are going to think long and hard before there is any growth beyond that clearly defined line called the bed cap. There is nothing stale about the concept — it seems to me in this age to continue to be prudent, responsible and successful.

Moving away from the cap on development now seems to be one of the planks in Kristi’s platform, judging from her response at the meeting. Given the importance of that issue to so many people here, it would have been helpful if she had mentioned that in her speech or interviews, instead of speaking of fire trucks in the Canada Day parade or platitudes about “direction” or “leadership.”

Ken has been forthright in his discussion about the issues, in my estimation. His views on unrestricted growth are well known. While I have had some serious disagreements with Ken over the last three years, I am willing to give him another chance to work with the public on the budget and spending priorities, to meaningfully consult with the community on the issues of the day and to periodically escape from the clutches of Muni Hall to hear what the townspeople think.

In the meantime, I would ask all of the candidates to put their agendas on the table for all to see so that we can make well-informed decisions on voting day.

Nancy Wilhelm-Morden

Whistler

There are more choices

As the proponent of a new university, Dr. Doug Player should have a better grasp of facts and logic.

First the facts. In his letter last week he referred to the "rushing through" of the Protected Area Network (PAN). This process dates back 10 years to the Whistler Environmental Strategy, which predated Whistler2020. Countless staff and volunteer hours have gone into it over that decade, and significant public input has been incorporated. Contrary to Dr. Player's assertion, the process has been anything but rushed.

Regarding logic, Dr. Player offers a false dilemma reminiscent of George W. Bush's "you're either with us or you're against us." According to him the choice is either: (a) his university on an environmentally sensitive site, the Alpha Creek Wetlands; or (b) no university at all.

The fact is, there are more choices. There are other sites, and there are other educational institutions.

Over the coming decade we can expect many more rezoning applications in which the more sensitive the site, the bigger will be the plum offered to the community (university, arena, whatever). The purpose of the PAN is to apply a scientific lens to our land-use decisions to protect and link the most important wildlife habitats. We need that guidance to help decide which rezoning applications make sense within the context of the whole valley.

The PAN and protetion of the Alpha Creek wetlands have emerged as pivotal issues in this election. We know Mayor Ken Melamed and Councillors Forsyth, Zeidler and Lorriman support the PAN and protection of the site. It’s unclear where Kristi Wells and other candidates stand.

To voters, please ask these other candidates to clarify their positions before casting your vote.

Bob Brett, M.Sc., R.P.Biologist.

Whistler

A Sharpe rebuttal

This past Saturday afternoon at the Chamber of Commerce All Candidates Meeting, I suffered what can only be described as an unethical and inappropriate personal attack by Councillor Tim Wake.

Councillor Wake raised a housing issue that has been before the RMOW and the B.C. Supreme Court for the past few years. During this outburst Mr. Wake made many inflammatory suggestions that included many false and misleading statements.

After receiving a deluge of supportive phone calls and e-mails following this event I feel the need to respond to these prejudicial comments.

First, I am no longer a petitioner in the legal action that remains before the court, nor do I have any vested interest in the housing in question.

These referenced legal actions, against the RMOW and the WHA, have always been an effort by the owners to find clarity in a housing agreement that was poorly drafted, poorly presented and misinterpreted by the WHA.  To date there have been no efforts made by these owners to set aside any restrictive covenants that were in place at the time these residential lots were purchased.

Since this action has commenced, the WHA has on numerous occasions, however, made efforts to alter other housing agreements without the knowledgeable consent of the owners of those resident housing units.

As well, there are a number of policies and practices of the WHA that, in my opinion, would not meet the minimum standard of client care that The Real Estate Council of British Columbia requires of its 18,000 associated members.

It seems to offend Mr. Wake that someone like me would choose to stand for the interests of those who may not feel comfortable challenging these unusual practices.

If I am given the privilege of representing the people of Whistler, I will continue to be bound by the ethics and standards of our organization and will insure that all owners and renters of resident housing are allowed to grow and progress through our resident housing programs secure in the knowledge that they will always be treated in a transparent and fair manner.

Thirty per cent of Whistler employees own or rent in resident housing and are arguably our most valuable resource. I pledge to preserve quality of life and provide a culture of service to all owners and renters of resident-restricted housing.

Dave Sharpe

Whistler

Win Win negotiations

In the last three weeks, the world has undergone a paradigm shift in the world of finance. Without a doubt, financing is going to be much harder to come by in the future. If Whistler hopes to diversify its economy as stated by most candidates at Saturday’s all candidates meeting, then the RMOW would need to abandon its current structure for negotiating deals.

Currently the RMOW uses a “Bottom Up” model to negotiate new development. This model places the negotiations of potential projects into staff’s hands. Staff meets with investors or developers, takes them through the technical constraints of the development/rezoning process, and then staff will make suggestions as to what form of compensation council will likely expect.

The issue with this structure is that staff is not actually given any authority to make a deal. If a staff member makes recommendations and council does not agree with those recommendations, then council has ultimate authority and can elect to reject staff’s recommendations.

This negotiation structure is incredibly risky for a developer because the developer does not know if they have a deal, or the terms of that deal until the very end of the process. For the last three years, these risks have been further exasperated by the mayor and council’s refusal to meet with developers and talk to them about their projects.

The developers have voted with their feet. This is evidenced by the alarmingly few applications that are currently making their way through the system. Quite simply, there is very little work in the system post-Olympics.

I am always amazed when conversations occur about how we make our money as a town. Conversations always focus on hotel nights. The conversation never seems to recognize the contribution of the construction industry. Whistler is bracing itself for a 15 per cent to 20 per cent decrease in tourism this year. Imagine, on top of that decrease if there is a huge exodus of construction workers and their dollars.

Thankfully it would appear that the new candidates running for the leadership of our town seem to recognize that we have a problem that needs to be solved. I think we need to create a new way of doing business. We need to bring municipal staff, councillors, and developers into the same room and hash out deals up front. We then need to execute on these deals. At the end of the day, the fully executed deal needs to look very similar to the one that was negotiated in the beginning.

The lending institutions are going to insist on this change. It is common sense if one deal has contingent risk (unknown outcome) and one does not, the lender is going to loan to the one that is defined.

Let’s get ahead of the curve and move forward as a town into this new Win/Win model. Let’s make it our goal as a community to execute brilliantly on the first wave of short-term housing ready in time for the Olympics. We own the land, we have the expertise to rezone and construct, with plummeting oil prices and global recession construction prices are going to fall dramatically. The time is right to make this a reality. The short-term housing project on the BCBC lands is ambitious but most certainly not impossible.

Tim Regan

Whistler

Is JB serious?

I can’t help but unload my annual letter to the editor this week after having the chance to read JB’s election platform. If I can only say one thing to my fellow Whistler residents it is: get out there and vote, vote for anyone you like; just don’t waste your vote on JB. I am sorry, but has anyone that has ever run for mayor, anywhere, ever been more out of touch with the community in which they are running for the top seat?

After reading last week’s papers I thought that this must be a joke, this JB who littered our highway with those unsightly election signs (good on you Eckhard for making a stand against the election signs, your fellow candidates should take this move to heart). JB who doesn’t live in our community. What is up with that picture JB?

JB, a few questions and comments on your responses to candidate questions posted in the paper last week: 1) These reality TV shows that you talk about; will they be developed, created and paid for by Whistler taxpayer dollars? I really don’t think that’s the best use of the community tax revenues. 2) I agree that it is important for us to be able to communicate with our children and grandchildren, but I really don’t see this as the job of our municipal government. 3) As for those paper cups and tents that you feel will be the No. 1 issue that Whistler faces in the next three years, I would like to turn your attention to the top stories in this week’s (and the past 10 years) local newspapers: housing, daycare, housing, daycare, housing, daycare, guest visits, attracting skilled workers, housing, daycare, housing, daycare, 2010 Games, the environment, housing, daycare, housing, daycare.

To all Whistler residents, get out there and vote. Vote for Ken. Vote for Kristi. Vote for Brian, or vote for Miro. Just don’t waste your vote by voting for JB, you will do no one any good.

JB, are you serious about being Mayor, or is it all a hoax?

Dave Clark

Whistler

Where wealth flows

Kristi Wells opened her mayoral candidacy speech Saturday by intimating, nay explicating, her tight ties to those of power and wealth in our province (and beyond). Are we to be comforted by this? That in “these times” we need not fear her, as the playgrounds of the rich will not be left idle? Or would she have us conclude that with her connections we will be protected, but not without?

Have we not learned in recent weeks (through a brutal and costly illumination of the fiscal and societal children of the Reagan/Thatcher ideologies) that, indeed, wealth does not trickle down; it gets squeezed up?

John Hall

Whistler

Referendum affects ineligible voters

I am unable to vote in the upcoming Pemberton municipal election. I live outside the current village boundaries. However, if I had (should’ve, would’ve, could’ve) run for council or mayor, then I would have a democratic voice.

The majority of candidates in the race do not live within the village limits, and I guess lose the photo op of casting ballots for themselves. The majority of candidates also have real estate and development interests — congrats on stacking the council! Maybe everyone will need to abstain from voting on any issues pertaining to anything.

Along with the election comes a referendum on the boundary expansion, which I commend. Unfortunately, those most affected (i.e. who are not yet part of the village) do not get to vote in this either.

Whether landowner who has already expressed non-support, or Lil’wat Nation who have not yet received appropriate consultation, the town is expanding into other people’s property and backyards. Those ineligible to vote are far more affected by the boundary expansion than those who already live in the village core.

Would you even notice? I will, if the “hill-side development” encroaches on my walking trails, mushroom picking, or nude sunbathing. So will the bears that live next door. Bears unfortunately, have never been blessed by being a part of the democratic process, but as a human I expect more. We deserve to have a say in what goes on in our backyards. We shop, work and play in your village — it’s a disgrace to not be included in the decision making process.

Happy voting Pemberton.

Judi Krzyzanowski

Mount Currie

A Whistler Welcome for all

I read with interest the Gibbons Hospitality Group’s ad in last week’s newspapers for their Welcome Week Events. I would like to commend the Gibbons Hospitality Group for offering welcoming events for their new staff from Nov. 11th to 15 th .

However, I would like to take this opportunity to differentiate it from Whistler Community Services Society’s long-standing Welcome Week events, which will be running the same week. WCSS has worked hard to offer new-to-Whistler seasonal workers Welcome Week events for the past six years as a way of developing community connectivity and building Whistler’s social capital.

WCSS and countless sponsors do this for all new arrivals to Whistler by pitching in to run various community events designed to let them experience a warm and welcoming atmosphere while showing that a caring community lives here. It is hoped that this week of events results in a sense of ownership by these young people who are so necessary to the success of Whistler. Please see our ad in the paper to see all the events offered this year.

I encourage other businesses to get on board by becoming a sponsor for an event or by sending their employees to Welcome Week Events to encourage fostering healthy connections in the community.

Greg McDonnell, Executive Director

Lorna Van Straaten, Administrator

Whistler Community Services Society

Private health care already here

Re: Proposed private MRI clinic in Whistler

This proposal in no way contributes to the destruction of Canada's Medicare system. We have a two-type system now, (public and private). Private Clinics are used by the following: ICBC, WCB, RCMP, military, private insurance companies, out of country visitors and, last but not least, some of our politicians.

Until our public system can afford to put an MRI at Whistler let the doctor do so at his expense. It will cut the long wait times for all of us living in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Bruce MacFayden

Pemberton

Defending democracy

"Lest we forget", Remembrance Day cries out for us to honour the fallen by defending democracy today. Some really lay it on the line, like my cousin serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan protecting their fragile democracy.

Even here, though, we can do something, such as taking part in the discussion about the government's referendum on a new voting system for B.C. (see www.stv.ca).

Maxwell Anderson

Chair, Committee on Voting Equity in B.C.

Vancouver

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