Whether human-sized inflatable hamster cages should be allowed to run Fitzsimmons Creek provoked the most debate at Whistler’s May 29 council meeting.
Whitewater rafting guide Eric Ridington had applied to the municipality for approval for his company to float eight, eight-foot in diameter inflatable Hydro Broncs between the Day Skier bridge and the south side of Terry Rogers bridge at Lorimer Road throughout the summer. Individuals, who pay $59 for the 15-minute ride, will be harnessed into the free-wheeling device which will float and bob its way down to the catch point.
Although Whistler Whitewater had secured approval from appropriate government agencies and a recommendation from Whistler’s Parks and Recreation department, Mayor Ken Melamed was hesitant to allow what municipal staff called "the unusual and seemingly innocuous inflatable device" to get rolling down the river.
"Whistler has few sanctuaries within the village," Melamed said in an interview after council approved the proposal for a one-year trial period. "There are very few places where you can have a sense of being close to nature right in the village and that was my concern."
Melamed suggested there could be a conflict with the Shakepeare in the Park production that will be held in Rebagliati Park in August. He also expressed concern about the "amusement park character" of the proposal, noting he’d prefer that kind of activity be restricted to Blackcomb’s Base II.
"I’m just uncomfortable with the concept of that expanding out and taking over the village."
The Hydro Broncs will be on the creek only 15 minutes of each hour they operate.
Grants total $675,000
Community Enrichment grants totaling $675,000 were approved by council Monday night.
The grants – $360,000 for Maurice Young Millennium Place, $255,000 for the Whistler Arts Council, and $60,000 for Whistler Animals Galore – were originally presented to council last month.
The MY Millennium Place grant was for the amount requested. Of that total, $240,000 will cover operating costs and $120,000 will go to pay the interest on the outstanding $3.5 million mortgage on the building.
The Whistler Arts Council had requested $315,000, nearly twice the $165,000 the organization received last year. Of the $255,000 approved, $100,000 will go towards the creation of an office of cultural coordination with responsibilities as the lead agency for the arts, culture and heritage enhancement objective of the Whistler 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Strategic Plan. (More details are in the Arts section of this issue of Pique).
WAG had requested $73,500, half the annual operating costs for running the shelter. Only one-quarter of the animals coming into the shelter are from Whistler; the other animals come from communities to the north.