The Resort Municipality of Whistler's $2.8 million budget shortfall is trickling down to some community amenities, including Whistler's $12.34 million library, which opened in January 2008.
Lauren Stara, director of the Whistler Public Library (WPL), confirmed that the facility is facing significantly reduced hours - decreasing from 53 to 44 per week - in the new year, unless the RMOW offers up additional funds.
Stara explained that the library is facing a shortfall of $54,000 because of mandatory salary increases and higher than anticipated operating costs, not because of any lack of funding from the provincial government.
"We are receiving the flat amount for everything except for salaries, and we are receiving the four per cent salary increase. But it just costs more to operate this building, both in human resources and in utilities and janitorial costs and things like that, than we thought it did! I mean, we just have so many people through the building every day."
Their mandated step staff salary increases are actually more than four per cent, so they have to dip into other funds to make up for the jump.
"The problem is that the library staff is stretched really thin, as it is," she said. "As I said, we just didn't anticipate the amount of use that this building was going to get, and we just don't have enough staff to do what we're doing already, and to ask us to provide the same amount of service with less staff is just impossible."
Members of the public were invited to comment on WPL's cutback in operating hours during a series of budget open houses and through an online patron survey.
"We have proposed that we be closed on Sunday and have shorter hours on Friday and Saturday, but so far the response via the survey is, 'That is not acceptable!'" Stara said.
"We serve such a diverse range of people here: the families with children want early hours and the seasonal workers want late hours," she pointed out.
Most of the people who have taken the time to offer feedback on the proposed cuts don't seem pleased with the idea.
"Interestingly enough, the survey responses that we're getting, about 50 per cent of the people that are responding are saying, 'I want more hours, not less,'" Stara added.
"When people call me and ask me about it - patrons - I say it breaks my heart! It absolutely breaks my heart. I mean, I'm a public librarian because I want to provide service for people, and I mean, the library isn't a revenue generator - that's a given!"
Anyone who would like to share their thoughts on the proposed hour decreases at WPL should e-mail their feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crafty kids at Bratz Biz
Whistler's youngest creative masterminds will be showcasing their wares at Whistler Secondary School during the fifth annual Bratz Biz this coming Saturday (Dec. 4).
The event is designed to promote the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our community's budding artisans, who spend months developing their products leading up to the holiday season. The quality of the products is always impressive (just visit www.bratzbiz.ca to check out photos from previous years' events) and the 2010 fair should be no exception, with almost 55 vendors signed up to sell their wares, which range from baked goods and candies to jewelry, ornaments, greeting cards, fabric arts and fashion and much more.
In addition to all of the goodies that will be for sale at the fair, organizers have also included family-friendly entertainment from Sand Northrup, Matthew Johnson, Norman Foote and Susan Holden, as well as complimentary photos with Santa, starting at 10:45 a.m. The event starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. Admission is by donation, with half of the proceeds going to the food bank and the other half going back towards covering operating costs.
Reaching out to budding filmmakers
The Whistler Film Festival has teamed up with Reel Canada, "a national organization dedicated to introducing youth to the great work of Canada's best filmmakers," to host an exciting film event for Sea to Sky students.
Earlier this week, Reel Canada hosted film screenings at Pemberton Secondary School and Whistler Secondary School with directors Andrew Currie, Paul Saltzman and Charles Binamé in attendance.
"We are committed to helping to nurture a sense of cultural identification among young Canadians and hopefully the students will leave with an understanding of Canada's place in the world of film," Stacey Donen, WFF's Artistic Director said in a recent release. "The Reel Canada program provides an innovative and dynamic way to explore who we and our stories are through film."
And the film fun isn't over yet: they will also be hosting a Family Day Celebration for families with children aged five and up at the conference centre on Sunday, Dec. 5. The event, which costs $5.50 to attend, will feature the world premiere of Sophie, Leif Bristow's film about big friendship and a 17-year-old ballerina who joins a travelling circus to be reunited with her best friend, a five-tonne elephant named Sheba. Birthday cake and more fun activities will follow the film screening to help commemorate WFF's 10th anniversary. Doors open at noon for this family event and the film will play at 1 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre.
For more information on Reel Canada, visit www.reelcanada.com.
Seeking: artists in the holiday spirit
Christmas is less than four weeks away and to help create a festive atmosphere along Village Stroll, the Whistler Arts Council is calling on artists to submit designs for a new set of cut-outs for their street entertainment program.
WAC works with the Resort Municipality of Whistler to create a roster of year-round street entertainment. Now they're looking for Sea to Sky visual artists to submit their sketches and designs for new wooden cutouts for the public to pose with. The pieces will be created and painted on location at the annual Whistler Holiday Experience, which takes place from Dec. 17 to 30.
For more information on the application process, visit www.artswhistler.com and check under the "Calls For Entry" heading. The deadline for application is Monday, Dec. 6 at 4 p.m.
Early Christmas gift from Dendrite Studios
The Whistler-based Dendrite Studios have had great success with their debut film, Out of the Shadows, named the Best Big Mountain Movie of 2010 at the International FreeSki Film Festival.
The film, which was shot in British Columbia, features an impressive roster of athletes - PY Leblanc, Chris Turpin, Brett Crabtree, Jon Larsson - and a bunch of newcomers who have been "in the shadows" of the industry, so to speak, and are taking this opportunity to finally break out on film. They shred the mountains with uninhibited passion, and allow filmmakers access into their lives.
Now, Dendrite is offering up that film, online, at a "pay what you want" rate. The professional ski film is available in HD or iPod/SD format through Dendrite's brand-new web store at www.dendritestudios.com, alongside some sweet new gear (T-shirts, toques and more).
"This is nothing but a dream come true. We are extremely grateful to have the film shown around the world and bring smiles to countless people," co-director Athan Merrick said in a recent release.
"To see our first project come to fruition on pure passion is an amazing experience. It has been a lot of hard work and we are very excited to be moving forward," co-director and photographer, Nicolas Teichrob, added.
More movies, courtesy of the Troutsmen
One of Whistler's favourite community groups, the Troutsmen International Club of Leisure, are book ending all of the Whistler Film Festival action with a few more films, just in case you haven't had your fill by the end of the week.
On Sunday, Dec. 5, the Troutsmen are hosting a food bank fundraiser at Merlin's, screening Heavy Hitting Film's Parental Advisory and Whiskey 2. Jay Greenway and Mark Bannock will also be on-hand to help the crowd rock the night away, while DJ Rob Baanks mans the DJ booth.
Sushi Village, Wayne Katz, Oakley, Stepchild and Monster are sponsoring the event, and cover to the event is $5 or the donation of a non-perishable food item.