Opinion » Maxed Out

And the Maxie goes to...



If 2016 were a ski season instead of a year, we'd all be burning our skis or boards. Notwithstanding whatever high points you may have personally experienced in the past year, taken as a whole, 2016 was disappointment after disaster, culminating in the implausible, impossible and inexplicable election of... well, you know. It may not be the end of the world — although I wouldn't bet against it — but it's certainly the beginning of the end.

And since it's the end of the year, welcome to the 2016 Maxies, my annual look-back awards for a select group of notable, notorious, mirthful and mindless achievements in and around the centre of the universe — Tiny Town. Why wax eloquent? The envelopes, please.

Mountain Kulture:

Best Development on the Mountains — Snow! No competition. The start to this season has been one of the best in our collective memory. Snow ain't eye-high but it's thigh-high... if you squat a bit.

Worst Development on the Mountains — An unprecedented, or unpresidented in TrumpSpeak, tie. Big Borg eats Little Borg as Vail Ski Corp. gobbles up Whistler Blackcomb (WB), proving once again, money is the root of all evil. And whether the connection is real or imagined, WB's own Renaissance project, or as we liked to think of it last spring, It Can't Get Any Worse Than This. A fatuous amusement park wrapped in even more lodging the town doesn't need, all tied up with a pretty ribbon of gridlock and sprinkled with more employees we don't have and more employee housing we also don't have.

Best Development on the Other Mountains — The long-gestated Spearhead Huts project finally get a green light from BC Parks. Yippee! We'll have some place to go when things get epically crowded on Whistler and Blackcomb.

Best Celebration No One Knew About — The International Skiing History Associations inaugural Skiing History Day celebrated the, well, history of skiing. Just in time. If the Orange One has his way, skiing will be history.

Mountain Milestones — 2016 saw the 50th anniversary of Whistler summer ski camps, as though you needed something else to make you feel older. John Smart celebrated 25 years of Momentum Ski Camps and Whistler's own Dorian Gray, a.k.a., Bob Dufour, was honoured with the Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement award, ostensibly for his lifetime labouring in the ski industry but really for being the person who has spent the most days skiing Whistler Mountain... ever!

Political Kulture:

Whoever Thought We'd Live to See It Award — The election of someone with a high probability of making George W. Bush seem like not the worst POTUS ever.

It Wasn't Us; It Was Them Award — PM Selfie, for hiding his own government's despicable decision to put jobs ahead of humanity and approve the sale of war machines to the Saudi government... and then blame it on the former Conservative government.

'Nother Day Older and Deeper in Debt — Premier Clark unveils her upcoming election strategy: Buy Votes. Announcing what has been widely termed the Worst Policy Decision Ever, Christy's offering first-time home buyers help with their down payment. And for five years, they can live in denial about when the variable interest payments kick in. When is that election again?

Jumpin' Jack Flash — It's a GAS, GAS, GAS. Not being willing to pin her hopes on LNG only, Christy's Crusaders grant an environmental assessment certificate to Garibaldi at Squamish, the Gagliardi/Aquilini ski area, er, real estate development project planned for Brohm Ridge, notwithstanding strong local opposition and little chance of making it as a ski resort.

Just Keep Your Knees Together — The province announced $11 million in grants for new daycare spaces. That worked out to, let's see, zero dollars and zero new daycare spaces for Whistler. I'm sure they thought working two or three jobs to afford to live here didn't leave much time for procreatin'.

Dog? Check. Pony? Where's the Pony? — The RMOW throws open the doors for a public information session on Whistler's budget. Think fast. The half hour you have to check out the display panels is all the advance time you have to formulate your budget questions for the brief Q&A period to follow. Maybe next year we can see the budget before the meeting.

Home is Where the He-Art Is — You can give massages out of your home in Whistler. You can do taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, yoga, tai-chi, run an escort service, rental agency, and just about anything else from home. But you couldn't sell your art. Now you can... for a price. Oh well, the last administration had pay parking. Every administration needs something that blows up in its face.

Wear a Coat; It's Cold Out There — When the municipality unveiled its long-awaited, if little-known, coat-of-arms there was widespread cheering. What, that was laughter? No way. It's cool. And some day, we'll begin to see it everywhere. Won't we?

Spelling It Out for the Spelling-Challenged — RMI Funding: Building on Success, a report commissioned by the province's Resort Communities, points out to the provincial government they get back in taxes what they give out in RMI funding well before January becomes February. Better repeat that; there's an election coming.

Life in Tiny Town:

Gaze Into My Crystal Ball — The holiday season (last) set another record for visitors. So did the ski season. So did the summer. So did the entire year. Property values rose in double digits. Traffic — as in it must be jam 'cuz jelly doesn't shake like that — became a regular news story, as did people living in vehicles. Not enough employees, not enough housing, not enough parking. And the New Boss wants to grow tourism by how much?

Tiny Town; Big Heart — Whether it was raising the money to fund a Syrian family, raising money for a local family struck by a misfortune of health or accident, or opening doors to folks tossed out on the street by fire, Whistleratics stepped up... again and again. They might call us hedonists, but we're charitable hedonists, Pilgrim.

I Can Get Some Satisfaction — The community Satisfaction Survey discovered the obvious: We're really happy living here. Oh, and we're broke. OK, not broke but not making nearly enough to be as happy as we are if you believe money can buy happiness. Fortunately, it can't. Snow can, though.

Look, Don't Touch — After much anticipation, the Audain Art Museum opened its doors and took our breath away. The very generous, very beautiful gift from Michael Audain and Yoshi Karasawa surpassed our wildest dreams and forever changed the cultural landscape of Whistler. But would the idiots who couldn't keep their fingers off the Emily Carr paintings, forcing the museum to put them under glass, please grow up, or pull your heads out of... never mind.


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