Maxed out - Chump change 

When the nation grew weary of the Prime Ministerial reign of Pierre Trudeau and Pierre grew weary of the nation, the winds of change were in the air. Like Kim Campbell in later years, John Turner was selected the sacrificial lamb and thrown to the electoral wolves two and a half months later. The slaughter was quick and brutal and the Liberals collectively sunk into opposition to lick their wounds.

One of the first things BM the PM did was repeal Pierre’s draconian Foreign Investment Review Act and proclaim, "Canada is open for business." That Canada was already an economic outpost of multinational businesses – notably based in the US – was seen as the leading edge of a good thing of which we could never have too much. The chaining of Canada bloomed like fireweed in a clearcut.

What in the world, I can hear you ask, does this have to do with Whistler? Maybe nothing. But each week, I have to start somewhere so cut me some slack. Come to think of it, when I ponder what’s going on in council chambers and the labyrinth of muni staff right now, I’m left with an uneasy feeling we’re entering Muldoon’s dream world of endless flows of investment dollars.

"Whistler is open for business." Or is that, "Whistler is up for grabs"?

An apparent change in the Municipal Act – about which I am totally ignorant and can gratefully remain that way while still making some sense – has allowed our mayor and council to take on the guise of Monty Hall and play Let’s Make A Deal in the cold, hard light of day instead of in smoky back rooms where these kinds of deals used to be cooked up.

The quid in this new legal landscape is development rights and the quo is amenities. My 1989 Canadian dictionary is so old that its definition of amenity – n. Agreeableness; pleasantness; pl. Acts or expressions of courtesy. – doesn’t begin to embrace the concept under consideration here. Amenities in this brave new world are things like day care centres and community centres, hockey arenas and dog pounds a municipality might need but doesn’t have the scratch to build. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you let me build a hog farm on the outskirts of town, you get your dog pound. Quid pro quo.

Enter the Houghton brothers. The small percentage of you who pay any attention to what goes on in our hamlet will remember the Houghton brothers. Think Emerald Forest. Think ménage à trois with the Houghtons, Intrawest and the previous council all in bed together to secure the Emerald Forest for park land, lay the groundwork for yet another massive hotel on the Blackcomb benchlands, put a couple of mil in the bros’ pockets and give them a nice plot of land in Taluswood upon which they could build their dream homes.

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