News » Whistler

Corridor trying to sort out implications of Liberal cuts



Locals who need social services, have court dates, or need help from a conservation officer will feel the bite of provincial cutbacks announced last week.

The Liberals, fulfilling campaign promises to bring in a balanced budget, have slashed social and other services in the corridor and around the province.

"The liberal government is putting budget before people," said Marguerite McCrae, acting-chairperson of the B.C. Government Employee’s Union local in Squamish.

"The loss of jobs is a huge concern but beyond that and what is even bigger is the loss of services for people who really need it and need help to access them."

There is no total yet on how many in the corridor will loose jobs or be forced to work in other locations, said McCrae.

But 30 people at the Squamish Income Assistance office were handed pink slips Thursday, Jan 18. The office will close March 31, 2003.

The office and other Ministry of Human Resources services under threat help people from Squamish to D’Arcy.

Anyone needing those services will likely have to travel to Vancouver.

The Squamish court house will close June 1. After that date anyone involved in a court case from Whistler or Squamish will have to travel to North Vancouver to have the matter heard.

Pemberton court, which sits four days a month, will continue and will likely be staffed out of North Vancouver.

The Squamish court closure left one person holding a pink-slip. One staff member took early retirement and other staff are either moving jobs to North Vancouver or Vancouver.

Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Hilton Haider said the court closure in Squamish won’t have a great impact on the detachment.

"I don’t think it will create much of an inconvenience because if (officers) have to travel to Squamish anyway it is only 45 minutes further on," said Haider.

"There will be some inconvenience for us but I think we will be able to take it in stride."

Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said discussions are under way to see if it’s possible to move some hearings to Pemberton, which is closer than driving to Vancouver.

"We think we have a strong case that will say this will make delivery more efficient and save everyone money, then that may be something they will consider," said O’Reilly.

"We are not reacting immediately. We are trying to gather information, better understand it, while recognizing at the same time that the province has significant challenges. We want to provide solutions not just complaints."