Well, another year, another trip around the sun and plenty of antics to celebrate. Whether it was local, national, international or galactic, nothing, it seemed, stood still in 2018. And where there's movement, there's weirdness. Don't believe me? Get up on either mountain and keep your eyes open; you'll wonder what aliens would be thinking about life on Earth.
Herewith are a handful of things considered Maxie-worthy from the past year. As usual, the scientific panel was dismissed this week, this being a highly subjective and completely incomplete list.
It was the best of years, it was the worst of years ... possibly both if you were running Whistler Blackcomb (WB).
Best Mountain Improvement
The everything-old-is-new-again Catskinner chair. If it's been a decade or longer since you rode the old Catskinner—and will PETA be boycotting Whistler along with Alberta oil folks if we don't change the name?—chair, you're in for a treat. It's fast, it's comfortable, your legs won't go numb and you can get to it from Springboard, a blessing since good as it is, it ain't Solar Coaster.
Least Best Mountain Improvement
The Cloudraker Sky Bridge grafted onto Whistler Peak. Lest there be any doubt about the way of the future, I fear the words "roadside attraction" will play an outsized part in shaping it. Can't wait for the Ferris wheel.
Credit Where Credit is Due
WB did reinstate the two-day Edge Card, proving we continue to value brown baggers. They made peace with Sylvain Saudan and reinstated his name on the Couloir Extreme, saving us all from the ongoing embarrassment of one of the best lines on either mountain having the dorkiest name. And Rob Katz pulled $100,000 out of his ski jeans, again, to donate to Whistler Community Services for programming. All good things.
Tiny Town, Tiny Politics Division
New mayor, new council, same old problems.
The Death of Sustainability
In response to his love letter to the oil and gas industry, Happy Jack acknowledges Whistler's—and his own—hypocrisy in the never-ending battle to rein in the deleterious effects of climate change on what we hope is never-ending winter. Hard to stay on the high road since Whistler's own GHG emissions continue to rise, eh?
I Can't Get No Satisfaction
The annual Community Life Survey reveals local satisfaction with life in Tiny Town has slipped. No house; no satisfaction. Oddly enough, the ill-defined guidelines and subsequent proposals for private development of employee housing didn't do much to move the satisfaction needle in the right direction.
But At Least It'll Be Pretty
Notwithstanding the direct link between housing and resident satisfaction, council nuked the proposal for employee housing at Nesters Crossing, fearing another Function Junction fiasco past councils turned a blind eye to. But all is not lost. Nesters Crossing will be the most highly landscaped industrial park in all of Canada thanks to their absurd requirements. If you lived there, you could stop and smell the roses.
Relief is Just Around the Corner ... Somewhere
With a design and budget that would make even Donald Trump blush, the long-touted Gateway Loop nonetheless went way over budget, took way longer to build and still required squirming bus riders to wonder where the nearest toilet might be located.
But Maybe Not This Corner
Frustrated with what they saw as a fundamental difference of opinion on direction, the board of Whistler 2020 Development Corporation resigned. Their years of development experience and free—yes, free—management were replaced by staff and hired consultants. If preliminary plans for Cheakamus Crossing Phase II are any indication, relief may be around corners we haven't gotten to yet.
Illegal Space? What Illegal Space?
In a rare show of strength, council voted unanimously to register a notice on title on a home on Gondola Way when it was found to contain 3,000 square feet of extra basement space not shown on approved plans ... and located behind a hidden access panel.
Love her or love her not so much, Her Worship, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden put a period on a selfless career of public service when she announced she would not run for re-election. Her contribution to Whistler, which far exceeds simply 17 years in elected office, is unmatched.
Life in the Bubble
It's said Whistleratics have all chosen to live here. I'm not sure what that says about us.
Dude, Where's My Party?
Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival 3.0 limped onto the scene in April without the guiding hand of Watermark, without the tempering effects of Tourism Whistler and under the direction of the Crankworx team and Gibbons Whistler. Slimmed down to six days, gone was the mainstage and awesome live music every afternoon. Back on the agenda were on-mountain sporting events including the back-from-the-dead Saudan Couloir race. We'll see what this spring brings.
Ask Me No Question
After a run of 32 years, the Whistler Question quietly vanished from the scene. That Tiny Town can continue to support one dead-tree paper is an act of courage in this time of disappearing newsprint. If you've got an hour or two to kill, check out some old Questions at the library. Funny how little burning issues have changed as everything else has changed over the years.
Roll Another One
Canada joins a small list of countries to finally grasp the absurdity of criminalizing cannabis. So, voila, it's legal. Now if the RMOW could just stop studying the issue and open up a retail store we might not be facing a 2.25-per-cent increase in property taxes.
Is It Safe
After an Ontario child was killed in her school's parking lot, Myrtle Philip PAC creates a traffic-safety advisory committee to study how to increase safety for children being dropped off and picked up at school ... the obvious solution of reorganizing the parking lot was not a school board priority.
If You Build It
... A proposal by—I'm not making this up—National Beerhall Inc., a division of Calgary-based Concorde Entertainment Group, for a massive redevelopment of un- and underutilized space in the Larco property, including 616 food and beverage seats and a blast-from-the-past bowling alley, was greeted with shock and disapproval by the Whistler bar and restaurant sector and just about everyone who heard about it. Imagine that.
And The Winners Are
Us. Lots of good things happened in 2018. RMI funding was renewed, Whistler Blackcomb Foundation chipped in $400,000 for the new WCSS building, Dave Brownlie and Doug Forseth were honoured with named features on the mountains, the Resilient Streets programs gave most of us something to celebrate, Jim Hart's dance screen in the Audain Art Museum came to life, the RMOW inked a protocol agreement with the Squamish and Lil'wat nations, heck, we can even recycle Ziploc and chip bags now. So get out there and make 2019 every bit as weird as the past; it's up to all of us.