As years go, 2014 was a five outta ten kind of year, not entirely a Rip Van Winkle snoozefest but a year that came in with a whimper, is going out with a whimper and rarely rose to a yowl in the days in between. Still, this is the end of the year and in the finest tradition of moving forward while looking backwards, there were achievements, both dubious and otherwise, worth noting.
So with no further procrastination, the votes are in — my vote — and herewith are the coveted Maxies for 2014.
Best On-Mountain Improvement: Having zero fondness for the old one, the new Whistler mountain gondola seemed like a shoe-in... until I rode it. Sure, you can finally sit down. But someone failed to tell the engineers the wind blows on Whistler. When it does — and not very hard — the outside equipment racks are merely decorative, operating speeds are skin up slow and I'm unexpectedly wistful for the old gondy. So, the Maxi goes to Raven's Nest's new vegan menu. While I personally have no issues with animal protein, at least now we'll know where to send 'em when they're complaining about the lack of vegan choices elsewhere.
Most Innovative Use of Lifts: The Skyhigh Dinner on the Peak2Peak took dining to new heights when the Bearfoot Bistro partnered with the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation — with more than a little help from a multitude of WB divisions — to choreograph a six-course meal in the sky. Pricey? Sure. Priceless? Absolutely.
Dumbest Use of Lifts: Presented jointly to Graham Dickinson (in absentia) and Kathleen Adams for prying open the doors to a Peak2Peak gondy car so Graham (a.k.a. Idiot #1) could B.A.S.E. jump and disappear, leaving Kathleen (a.k.a. Idiot #2) to video the act and then post a selfie on Facebook. Duh.
Climb Every Mountain: Or at least get a lift. After years of wishing, WB workerbees living in staff housing enjoy free transit this season during the hours Excalibur doesn't take them home. WB's footing the lion's share of the $30,000 tab along with contributions from the Fairmont, Moe Joes and Gibbons Life.
There Must Be a Pony Under All This....: In a small pool with little distinction, Arthur DeJong was the standout candidate for Whistler council... until someone at the MotherCorp noticed. Then he wasn't. Because he knew too much about WB's secret plans to take over the universe? Oh stop it; you're killing me with laughter. There are no secrets in a small town.
Click Our Heels Together Three Times and Say, "There's No Place Like Home.:" Whistler council debates illegal nightly rentals and what to do about them when Madeleine Hamilton provides a list of 60 properties advertising nightly rentals in neighbourhoods not zoned for it. Meanwhile, perhaps not surprisingly, there's a shortage of seasonal rental housing. I wonder?
DES-perately Seeking Heat: The bleeding-edge District Energy System in Cheakamus Crossing leaves far too many residents, (a) cold, and (b) broke, in both their wallets and heating systems. Meanwhile, the year-long study by B.C. Hydro on the efficacy of the system is... is... now where is that study?
Good Fences Make Confusing Pedestrians: The Whistler Medical Centre heliport finally gets Transport Canada approval for H1(single-engine) helicopter landings after ripping out the sidewalks on the Centre's frontage on Lorimer and Blackcomb Way. But the nice wooden fences still leave plenty of room for pedestrians confused by signs telling them not to enter. Enter what?
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions: The RMOW's family-friendly parental leave policy was designed, in part, to attract more council candidates. So, how's that workin' for you?
Nice Hat, Trick: Council brings in its third successive year of zero per cent property tax increase. We elected you to manage the town's finances; you've done it like they said it couldn't be done.
Life in the Fast Lane: After much study, the provincial government finally raises speed limits on many highways throughout the province, including our own SeatoSlow highway. But not to worry, LNG will make up for the lost revenue.
Hold This For Me, Will You: Christy Clark's government leaves the RMOW holding the bag and short one OCP when they (a) fail to consult sufficiently with the Squamish and Lil'wat nations on approving Whistler's OCP and (b) decide it just isn't worth the trouble to appeal the court's decision tossing it out because of (a). But not to worry, LNG will make everything OK.
Everybody On the Bus: While 37 per cent of voters in the last election loved him, that leaves, let's see, 63 per cent more or less appalled at Stephen Harper's omnibus failings at, among others, relentlessly attacking science, climate change, salmon, veterans, parliament, the auditor-general, the Supreme Court, common sense, justice and fair play and Canada's former standing in the world as a caring, peaceful nation. Who says he doesn't get the credit he deserves?
Especially Those Who Support Him: And dishonourable mention to the ones most responsible for keeping him in office — the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Green Party whose leaders continue to be driven by ego and fail to accept the fact it'll take a united, single party to defeat him.
If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say....: Would someone be kind enough to let John Weston know no one is interested in reading his parroting of the party line? We already get enough of that from the CBC, thank you.
LIFE IN TINY TOWN DIVISION
The Key to Good Programming is Knowing Your Audience: They do it every year on the mainstage at WSSF but you've got to hand it to Watermark, booking The Wailers to play at 420 this year was a particularly high concept.
It Was Twenty (Five) Years Ago Today: They haven't always won but for a quarter of a century, AWARE has been fighting the good fight in the environmental wars. Thinking about what this town might look like without them is not a pretty picture.
Get High Like a Local: The new Skywalk trail up on Rainbow mountain was birthed by the hard labour of volunteers form the Whistler Section of the Alpine Club of Canada, all of whom would be appalled if I mentioned them by name. So I won't. I'll just say thanks.
You Hold the Pig; I'll Get the Lipstick: I don't care if you make it look like a pine tree, a palm tree or a giant hard-on, a 35-metre cell tower at the town's northern entrance still says f#!k you. So take your erection and find another place to stick it.
In passing and in closing, a fond nod to all those we lost this year, far too many to mention, and all those who are going to stick around for another circle 'round the sun. You all make this place worth living here every day and, as someone commented about my work recently, it takes a village to make an idiot. I think it was a compliment.
Happy New Year.