Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of December 28


It's more than just ski school

Molly is green.

She had an allergic reaction the night before. The kind that takes days, sometimes weeks, to fully recover from. I know this. This shade is in my four-year-old daughter's life box of crayons, too.

Still, Molly stands in the carrel filled with waddling, over-dressed toddlers in their first year of ski school. Molly clearly should be at home. Her supervisor said so.

But Molly insists on introducing her students to their substitute instructor before waiting with them to see them off on the gondola.

You see Molly gets kids like mine. The kind who are extremely sensitive and easily overwhelmed with change and a busy, group setting. And that's exactly why program ringmaster Lauren paired my daughter with Molly. And that's exactly why my daughter is having such success with the ski-school program.

And because of this success, our daughter is able to expand her love of playing in the mountains, a rare gift afforded to those of us lucky enough to make a life here.

Our daughter's transition from child to kindergarten student will be made easier next year as well. Ski school is more than just ski lessons.

It's a stepping stone for our family. A journey which first began with Resort Municipality of Whistler programming such as Music Together and Creative Play. Then summer camps and preschool.

To all the Christines and Ms. Cynthias, and Andrews and Lauras in the world, thank you. Each program has built up our daughter's social skills and confidence to a point where we enrolled her in ski school.

None of these transitions have been straightforward for our family. And we are so grateful Lauren not only took the time to know this, but acted upon it. She went out of her way to organize a tour of the ski school routine before classes started, giving my daughter a chance to work through the new routine and spaces.

She also picked an experienced and caring instructor who would understand her sensitivity, and who shared a series of allergies and food sensitivities, too. 

I know my daughter's ski school experience won't be seamless. There will be highs and lows. Changes as she changes. But I am confident the Whistler Kids staff will not only be able to navigate her through this, but make her shine as well.

Trust is one of the hardest things to give as a parent. And Whistler Kids staff has gone above and beyond to earn this from our family. We are so incredibly grateful.

And we are so excited to see our daughter grow her family of friends. Clichés are clichés for a reason. It truly takes a Whistler Village to raise a child. Thank you Molly and Lauren.

The Fitzgerald/Boorne Family


Whistler needs temporary housing

Whistler has a housing problem masquerading as a staffing problem. Please let me forestall the usual sentiments. This is not the "usual" problem that so many people like to say "will work itself out."

Airbnb has already removed 300 to 400 beds. In addition, the teardown and rebuilding of some 70 to 80 homes, accounting for another 200 to 300 beds, is being done by people wealthy enough that they neither need nor want strangers in their homes.

I have no problem with either of these things, and I firmly believe home owners have the right to do what they want with their homes.

Airbnb provides a great service, allowing more visitors to enjoy the Whistler experience, and owners to maximize their earnings potential without feeling as though they're expected to run rooming houses. This is a benefit to the community and several levels of government.Furthermore, the renovation of older, rental properties into high-end vacation homes, which are often only lived in for a few weeks a year, is good for Whistler.

Construction jobs are provided during the renovation, and afterwards the home values, and the property taxes generated, are definitely good for the municipal government — and very few services have to be provided in return.

The problem is the type of workforce we need to be able to attract and house; meaning a transient workforce. Under-staffing has become endemic, and many of you are seeing this already through longer waits and poorer service. It isn't for lack of interested potential staff, it's simply that there is nowhere for them to live.Now this is where many people say the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) is dealing with it. I disagree.

The WHA has a simple mandate: To provide reasonably priced housing to permanent residents of Whistler.

But there are many people who have been here for years and who plan to stay if they can find affordable, permanent housing. This is the group I want to help, but it would be by providing them with enough support staff that they can keep living their economically challenging, but enjoyable, lives here while they wait for their WHA placement.You see, the real pain is the difficulty that seasonal-support staff has in finding housing. Permanent staff and seasonal staff alike make this town tick, and they are being worked to the bone because they don't have enough coworkers. It's not even the busy season yet and everyone I know is already exhausted!

The usual rest and recuperation period that we call the dead season has been reduced to a couple of weeks, and the crucial components of our standard operating procedures are, literally, being left out in the cold. I cannot overemphasize their importance!Seasonal workers provide much-needed labour, and leave a relatively small footprint, as they are usually quite happy with a bedroom to themselves.

But these days they're lucky to find a bedroom that they have to share with three or more people. I personally know of more than a dozen people who have left after a month of working their tails off and fruitlessly trying to find somewhere to stay.If you want to get a cab in the classic Whistler fashion, meaning in less than an hour, or if you hope to have a pleasant and efficient server at your next meal, or even a cooperative grocery-store clerk, we need the residents and regulators to get out of the way of businesses and let us deal with the problem.

Temporary staff housing, organized and operated by local businesses, is the only solution that provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate the required beds without upsetting the delicate balance that supports our incredibly important housing market.I have that solution. I have equipment sourced and support from more than a dozen businesses (which only accounts for about 20 per cent of the need).

I have discussed it with some municipal councillors that agree this is the time for some progressive change. All I need is regulatory support and the support of one particular landowner (who for now, out of respect, shall remain nameless).It takes years to build the reputation we have here in Whistler but it will take less time than one can imagine to destroy it.

I would like to ask the councillors, municipal staff and residents to allow Whistler to do what we do best: Use our innovative and creative spirit to pursue a solution that makes us shine on the world stage, and continue to set the bar as high as our snow-kissed peaks.

Drew McEwan


Whistler in 2066

Have you ever wondered what Whistler might be like in 50 years when it reaches 100 years old? A while ago, I gave a speech on this topic at my school, Coast Mountain Academy, and decided I wanted to share with you.

I'm going to take you on a journey to the future, to Whistler in the year 2066. But before I do that, let's take a quick look back at the last 50 years to see what's changed.

The journey from Vancouver has gone from four hours to 1.5 hours in the last 50 years. The old, bumpy gravel road my grandparents told me about has been replaced with the amazing Sea to Sky Highway. Bigger and faster cars, including electric ones, have replaced the funny old cars they used to drive. Where there was an old garbage dump in the 1960s is now the home of the world-famous Whistler Village.

Fifty years ago there were only six chairlifts on Whistler that carried two people at a time. Today we have 37 lifts on two mountains and the incredible Peak 2 Peak gondola.

Whistler has grown from a town of less than 500 people to a place where more than 10,000 people live today and more than 2 million people visit each year.

Other things we have today that were not here 50 years ago, include: cell phones that can take photos and play music, helmets, terrain parks, fat skis, snowboards, schools, soccer fields, ice rinks, swimming pools, hotels, restaurants, mountain bike trails, and many other things.

Amazingly, 50 years ago none of those things existed, and no one would have believed you if you told them what was coming.

So what about the next 50 years? How different will Whistler be? Can it change as much again? Will people look back at the photos we take today and think that 2017 was funny and old fashioned? Probably!

So enjoy thinking we are the coolest generation ever, because one day we won't be.

I have a vision of Whistler in the year 2066 that might seem crazy now, but change happens, and usually faster than you think.

First of all, getting to Whistler will be totally different. From the airport or downtown Vancouver, people could be travelling by hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system that is like a big pipe or tube in which pressurized capsules carry passengers and travel at super high speed. In the future, such a hyperloop could go from Vancouver to Whistler in less than 20 minutes.

Highway 99 will still be used, but it will look and sound different. Every car will be electric and look so futuristic. No one will actually be driving these cars because they will not have steering wheels. They will all be self-driving cars using navigation systems run by Apple and Google. The best thing of all is that there would probably be no more accidents and no more road closures.

In 2066, when you arrive in Whistler, you will notice the resort celebrating the 100th anniversary of Whistler Mountain opening to the public. Yes, Whistler will be 100 years old!

If you arrive in the winter you might be surprised to see grass and people on bikes. Unfortunately global warming means that by then, it may not snow much in the valley, but the good news is that mountain biking and golf will be year-round sports!

Don't worry, the skiing will still be great, and Whistler will still be No. 1 in the world!

By 2066, there will be lots of new chairlifts taking you up over Flute to Singing Pass and into the Blackcomb backcountry. What might really surprise you will be the new hotels at the top of the mountain. These will be super-modern. space-age-looking hotels, made of glass and steel.

There may even be another village up there — maybe it will be called "Whistler 1,850" because of the elevation, and it would be reached by a much larger and faster gondola or train?

In 2066, you will definitely not see any GoPros. In fact you might not see many next year. They might have been popular and cool in the last few years, but in the not too distant future, people will think it is so funny we actually wore cameras stuck on our helmets! I am pretty sure the iPhone may be gone by then, replaced by something that has not even been invented yet. But if we do still have phones in 2066, I hope they will have invented a way to stop the screen from breaking or the cold from draining the battery.

Is my vision of the future right? Will Whistler be that different? One thing is for sure — it will change. Some of the changes we can influence, and others may be out of our control.

Personally, I think the older Whistler gets the harder it will be for it to stay this beautiful and magical. Every year, even at my age, I notice the changes: how the traffic gets busier, the forests get smaller, the lakes more crowded and the summer hotter and smokier.

I am not against progress, but there are some things that I wish could stay the same, and Whistler is one of them.

But don't be too sad, change can also be exciting — it is not necessarily good or bad — it's just the future. We just need to try and shape the future we want.

Isabella Ellott, 13


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