You may have seen an ad in the Jan. 12 issue of Pique Newsmagazine under the heading of "Citizens' Corner," expressing dissatisfaction with a number of municipal issues ranging from pay parking, the asphalt plant, rising property taxes and the decision to close the library on Sundays because of a budget shortfall.
Pique contacted the group, called Whistler's Coalition of Concerned Citizens (WCCC) this week to see if they would be interested in providing some more details about the organization and they agreed on the grounds that the members would remain anonymous.
"We live in a small community and if we start identifying one person or another person this becomes personal and the comments provided could be identified with a specific person," wrote one WCCC spokesperson. "We made some internal decisions that we would not make any personal attacks against any person at the municipality and we would like the same respect in return. Rather we will confine our comments to policy decisions and actions taken."
According to the spokesperson, the movement resulted from an enormous dissatisfaction on several fronts and what they view as a disconnect between the Mayor and council and the people of Whistler, and the directions given to staff. "Failed policy, extraordinary spending, increased taxes and a lack of understanding who the people at the municipality actually work for are some of the specific concerns we are hearing loud and clear from the community... Our businesses are struggling, our taxes are high and our community is not satisfied with its current leadership."
The group is not affiliated with any political party or faction in the municipality, according to their email, and it represents Whistler residents from all walks of life.
They also don't represent any council members, present or future.
A list of the issues they've identified include:
• The failure of pay parking and the impact on the village.
• The closing of the municipal library on Sundays.
• Failing to balance the budget, while also failing to fund capital reserves.
• The proposed property tax increase for 2011 after several years of tax increases, at a time when people are making less money.
• Dissatisfaction with the transit system and the transition "from the poster child in the province to an overpriced, under performing service. They are also upset at the reluctance of council to take free advice from professionals, include the systems former manager.
• The failure of the Waldorf School to move into the Spruce Grove Field House at a time when the municipality needs the revenue.
• Municipal staffing levels at a time when tourism is low.
• The secrecy over the municipality's internal review.
• The unresolved issue of the asphalt plant and the fact that the municipality is on the hook for unsold townhomes and lots in the Cheakamus Crossing.
• Council's practice of deferring votes and sending items back to staff for more information.
One of the WCC's first actions is to lobby for a bylaw that would allow for mail-in ballots in November's municipal election, which they say would create greater access for the handicapped, second homeowners, residents that follow the snow to the southern hemisphere and others. They are encouraging people to send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org to say they are in favour of the idea, which has been put into place by other municipalities in B.C.
The group is also launching a website at www.whistlerccc.com, and taking emails at email@example.com.