Maxed Out 

Now is the time for a vote on the Olympics

By G.D. Maxwell

The nearest commercial centre to Smilin’ Dog Man’r is 100 Mile House. A former stagecoach stop on the Cariboo gold trail, 100 Mile is a "tween" kind of town. It’s ’tween Kamloops and Williams Lake, both of which are much larger centres of commerce, and it’s ’tween a rock and a hard place.

The stage don’t stop at 100 Mile anymore. Neither does the Cariboo Prospector, its only non-automobile lifeline to the great mecca of Vancouver. Neither does the buck, as in provincial tax dollars. They pretty much bypass 100 Mile completely. And at an undecided date in the near future, neither will ambulances filled with hurtin’ people. At least not outside the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

For the sake of a couple million bucks – about what the provincial government’s spending on TV ads telling us what a great healthcare system we have, something they promised they’d never do once they got to power – the Interior Health Authority is cancelling on-call GP surgeons and anesthetists. Get whacked outside of banking hours and you’ll have to be shuttled to one of the big centres. Hope you don’t bleed to death on the way.

100 Mile doesn’t have much going for it. Its local economy – forestry – has taken a shitkicking from the punishing U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber, as well as all the earlier blows that line of work suffered before the bullies down south got really vindictive. Its forays into tourism, other than the area’s incredible network of trails luring cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, have suffered under the Campbell government’s unwillingness to invest in basic infrastructure like roads and the Prospector.

Despite these indignities, the place has heart. It also has a local weekly paper that spreads news, gossip and opinion. There aren’t any million dollar homes for sale in it but there are weaner pigs, hay mowers and plenty of beaters in a good week.

Every now and again, there’s also a pretty wicked political cartoon. Like the one from September 18 th . It was a simple drawing of a map of B.C. The entire map was crosshatched except for Victoria, Vancouver and Whistler. The caption read, "The BC Liberals come up with a way to ensure a balanced budget, pay for the Olympics and even provide for a modest tax break by 2004." The punchline was a large tack hammered into the heart of the province with a sign on it referring to all the crosshatched area. It said, "Closed Due to Budget Cuts."

While I may be the only person alive who refers to returning to Whistler as going back to the real world, I can understand the growing resentment aimed at our little mountain home. While most of Whistler’s fat cats are interlopers and carpetbaggers and most of its residents’ principal handle on economic wellbeing is an endless smorgasbord of low-paying jobs, Whistler’s image in the rest of the province is that of privilege. Don’t waste your breath telling them how hard we’ve worked for the privilege. Don’t bother mentioning the million bucks a day the mayor says flows from Whistler to Victoria. And whatever you do, don’t mention the Olympics.

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