Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of June 8th

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The single rental-pool concept is obsolete

The 21-year-old Phase 2 covenant needs to be phased out, not strengthened.The Phase 2 covenant was brought in to deal with some specific issues of the day. Now, 21 years later, the market is totally different. When the covenant was enacted there was no Hotels.com, no TripAdvisor for instant reviews, no Google Street View to lead you right to your unit, no Siri to tell you exactly where to walk and no Airbnb etc.

At that time, the resort was much smaller and fully booked many times during the season. The marketplace is very different now.Now we can assess the result of this covenant. It is time to listen to the results and modify it in a positive way by allowing more flexibility, not less.

We see Phase 1 properties as prized assets and selling at over $1,000 per square foot and offering a great guest and owner experience. Phase 2 properties and selling between $300 and $400 per square foot because of poor revenues, high overheads and the restriction of this covenant.

We see the Phase 2 property (owners) having a difficult time maintaining their properties and not upgrading because the revenues are all eaten up in unnecessary overheads and owners have no recourse. Phase 1 properties are prized assets to owners and maintained and upgraded readily.

Phase 2 strata owners are not able to change their rental management provider other than by a full council action and are effectively held hostage to the management operator and the council regardless of the level of service provided.

These economics translate into the negative guest experience we are seeing and reports on TripAdvisor and other feed-back sites. Phase 1 has, on average, better reports than Phase 2 because of the economics associated with Phase 2 and the lack of competition, or options, in the rental-management area.The documentation would lead us to believe the poor economics are the result of low-cost units or illegal properties. If this were the case, Phase 1 would suffer as much as Phase 2, but we see Phase 1 doing nicely and Phase 2 suffering.

I own one property in each phase, so I have experience with both. The difference is the restrictions and overheads forced upon us by the Phase 2 covenant.We have all heard of management companies and special interests gaining control of a council and leaving no recourse for an individual owner who has no option but to take what they get. This is far from a fair market for the Phase 2 strata unit owner and it impacts the guest experience in the end.I am asking for at least an amendment in the proposed bylaws to allow strata-unit owners in a Phase 2 building to select a tourist accommodations manager (rental manager) of their own choosing, rather than be forced to pool by building and deal with only one operator. Technology has made this pooling concept obsolete. This leaves owners with little or no recourse if that operator is not performing. At best, replacing the operator via the council is slow and difficult and could be subject to much internal bias.

As an owner, there is no recourse if the manager disadvantages one unit in favour of another, and there is no fair market for owners in this bylaw. We are effectively being held hostage by the rental-pool concept and forced to comply by the current and proposed bylaws.

Now these bylaws are proposed to be strengthened rather than dropped, as they should be. The fact that we cannot opt out or withdraw makes these units a very poor investment, (as they are) not easy to maintain and not worth upgrading.

The increased overheads and reduced options associated with this proposed bylaw has made the investment uncompetitive as it is today. This should be improved, not made worse.I am asking for an amendment to allow Phase 2 strata property owners to have the option to select any rental manager to manage their unit. If licensing is required to maintain the required high standard, so be it.I am asking that the Phase 2 restrictions be eased over time, not strengthened. Phase 1 is far more effective for both owners and guests in Whistler.

Doug and Indra Patrick
Whistler

Save this bear!

Calling all Nordic and Alta Vista residents: A bear needs your help!

It's time to step up and save this bear's life. He has been accessing attractants all over Nordic. If he keeps getting rewarded with food, and as the conflict level escalates, non-lethal management options could quickly become ineffective... impossible ... or difficult.

So, put away your BBQ grease and burn the grill clean, take in your bird feeders, no empties on the back porch and for the love of god, don't keep your garbage outside.

If you see this bear in your yard, make him feel super uncomfortable on human turf.

Yell, stamp your feet, bang pots and pans, stare him down from a safe position (and preferably with more than one of you). But first, make sure he has a safe avenue of escape (no children's birthday party in the yard next door, no traffic... you get it).

And don't give me any grief about the conservation officers killing bears because the people didn't do their part. This is your chance to step up and keep him alive.

Fair warning!

And yes, he's already been relocated and came back. So, it's up to you now. Please don't let this beautiful being be put down. His life is literally in your hands.

Call COS at 1-877-952-7277 with bear sightings for proactive actions. Call Bylaw Services at 604-935-8280 if you see improperly managed attractants in your neighbourhood.

Sylvia Dolson
Executive director, Get Bear Smart Society

Keep parking free for locals

I am writing this letter as a concerned long-term local.

I have lived in town for over 17 years now, and have been proud to call myself a local. The vibe of Whistler has been amazing over the years, due to having so many amazing members of our community. Wait, amazing can't even begin to describe the Aces and the Chilis, the Feets and the Hairfarmers and so on and so on... You know the people — the creative souls with flare and drive, or just plain heart — who collectively inspired many and made this town unique and what it is today.

People gravitate to our town not just for the skiing, but also for the feeling of it. People come to town for a feeling they can't quite get anywhere else. They leave here wishing they could be us. This is the reason I'm writing you today, because I am truly worried about this town and I know I'm not the only one. I recently read an entry on the Whistler Summer 2017 Facebook page saying: "I can't believe no one is all up in arms that we are losing Lot 4 and 5 free parking."  There were only 52 comments. There are over 8,000 people in this town that I know care about this parking loss, and that message seemed to be quietly typed, and quietly read, or not seen at all. This brought up a few concerns for me. Our community has a general consensus that they are being kicked in the teeth instead of rewarded for all the hard work in running this town. I know this because almost everyone I know has already left town, stating that they can't afford to live here anymore. People are feeling tired and overworked, working sometimes three jobs and having to pay ridiculous rent. (People) are tired of being kicked out of their houses due to someone selling, and being thrown into a housing market that makes everyone cry at some point. But the housing crisis is another story. Or is it? The housing crisis has made the new generations moving to this town angry and tired. I know this because I have been listening to people talking and watching the angry Facebook posts.

People are feeling lonely because their friends are leaving town and because they can't afford to do anything, so they are staying home instead. I guess when you are paying on average $900 to share a room and the cost of everything keeps going up, it makes it impossible to live, impossible to breathe and so no wonder everyone is angry and tired. What is going to happen to our town, the vibe, the energy, all the hard work and effort to make it feel special, if all the people running it feel defeated, sad, angry, and more broke than ever?

And remember, these are the first faces the tourists see when they arrive.

Let's bring it back to the parking: I know that our little town is flourishing because there have been days that I was late to work because I had to drive around and around and around for parking because there wasn't any.

Here is my question around this: Are you going to help us to run this town by designating parking for locals? Are you going to give back to us to make it a little easier on us to get to work? Or are you going to kick us while we are already down and make us pay and still have nowhere to park?

I see this as an amazing opportunity to give something back to the locals. We need to feel appreciated for our hard work. We need to feel heard and to know that you are coming up with solutions to our challenges and be given hope that these challenges might one day be solved. We need to know that you are looking at the bigger long-term picture of the survival of this town. 

Let's address one more thing — it appears that the system of communication from the municipality to the town has a few glitches. We need it to be easy and simple and for it to come to us, not for us to have to go in search of it.

I understand that you are trying hard to create a system that lets us participate, but it doesn't seem to work for us. You need to come to us, so that the communication is clear and built on trust.

Heather Henderson
Whistler

Filling Empty Bowls

"The only time you should look in your neighbour's bowl is to make sure that they have enough" — Louis C.K.         On behalf of the Sea to Sky potters guild, I would like to extend a big thank you to the local businesses and individuals who contributed to the success of our annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser held at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) on Friday, May 26. Once again, this sold-out event was a huge success. Everyone felt a deep sense of gratitude as the SLCC welcomed us to their world-class facility with a feast song, and guests dined on the delicious soup offerings from local chefs while gazing at the stunning views of the local mountains from the SLCC's Itsken Hall.  Empty Bowls events are held by potters in communities throughout North America with the objective of raising funds and awareness for local charities that work to relieve hunger. The handmade bowl guests take home with them serves as a gentle reminder that not everyone has a full bowl every day.

As always, the hard work and generosity of the local community in Whistler was inspirational and as a result we raised $3,620 for food banks in the Sea to Sky corridor. A very special thanks to our event partner, the SLCC and its amazing staff, for sharing the beautiful venue, the delicious bannock and for working so hard in the planning, organization and execution of Empty Bowls. We truly could not have done this without you!Thank you to our local chefs. Thanks goes to Milestones, Barefoot Bistro, Alta Bistro, Legs Diamond, Gone Eatery and Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre for their delicious soup offerings and to Bruce Worden for taking the lead on organizing them. As well, we would also like to extend a special thank you to those that volunteered at the event, and contributed behind the scenes to assist us in getting the word out and in helping out to ensure it ran so smoothly. Thanks goes to: Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler Question, Whistler Community Services Society, Slope Side Supply and Roots.In addition to showcasing what a kind and generous community we have, this event is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work of our talented local potters and a big thank you goes out to all of the potters who donated their work to this beautiful event.

Thank you for getting dirty with purpose!For more information regarding upcoming pottery programs in Whistler, go to our website www.whistlerpotteryclub.com or visit us on Facebook.

Kathleen Tennock
The Sea to Sky Potters Guild

BioBlitz back in nature

The Whistler Naturalists' 11th annual (and Canada's longest-running) BioBlitz was a huge success, thanks to the quality and quantity of over 70 scientists and volunteers.

BioBlitzes strive to achieve two goals: to increase public appreciation for biodiversity and also to increase our knowledge of all the species that share the areas where we live. The 2017 BioBlitz again achieved those goals thanks to the efforts and support of many people and organizations.The event last weekend was the earliest we've ever held it in order to coincide with the 40(ish) Whistler-Pemberton Breeding Bird Survey and made it possible for BioBlitz scientists to give presentations to our local schools. We thank the scientists who presented to 15 classes at Spring Creek Elementary, École La Passerelle, Myrtle Philip Community School, and Whistler Secondary School. We also thank the students for being a fantastic audience!Thanks also to the Whistler Secondary Junior Scientists who were so keen on learning and being excited about all the different organisms they encountered.

We thank BioBlitz scientists for being great mentors and representing a wide range of specialties from fungi and lichen to aquatic critters and reptiles.This year's BioBlitz included two nighttime presentations. On Friday night, Kevin Bell gave an informative and animated overview of four decades of Breeding Bird Surveys. Saturday night was our annual "Night Critters" event at Alpha Lake Park. Thanks to everyone who braved the June-uary weather and special thanks to the one hardy California Myotis bat who was kind enough to get caught in our mistnet and be the star of our event.Results from the weekend are now pouring in and we expect the total to be over 500 species, of which close to 100 will be new records for our area. The results from Whistler and Pemberton will be collated by the Whistler Biodiversity Project and available online within the next few weeks at www.whistlernaturalists.ca.The Whistler Naturalists would like to thank all the scientists and local volunteers, plus our key sponsors: the Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Whistler Blackcomb.We would also like to thank all the organizations and businesses who contributed to the event: Legends Hotel, Creekside Market, Nesters Market, Whistler Brewing, Riverside Café, Avalanche Pizza, Purebread, Whistler Cooks, Whistler Creative, and Black Fish Clothing.

Kristina Swerhun, Bob Brett, Julie Burrows, and Kathy Jenkins 
Whistler Naturalists

Chamber music thanks

On Sunday, May 28, the Whistler Chamber Music Society held its first benefit concert at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

A big thank you to talented local musicians Alison Hunter (harp), Dorte Peiffer (flute), Allyn Pringle (piano), Rajan Das (double bass), Ian Brown (bass-baritone), and Jeanette Bruce (soprano) who all kindly donated their time and efforts for the evening. 

Thanks also go out to the special people who came on a (rare) lovely, warm evening to listen to some beautiful music and support the society.

Special appreciation goes out to the local anonymous donor who covered the venue rental, allowing the entire $600 raised to go towards the upcoming 2017-18 chamber music concert series.

An exciting line-up of performers, including a piano trio, a brass quintet, a Christmas harp ensemble, a piano duo, and a string trio is slated to come to Whistler, starting in the fall for the inaugural Whistler Chamber Music concert series! 

Jane Reid, Laurie Van Leeuwen, and Alison Hunter
Whistler

A growing event

The Friends of the Whistler Library would like to express a huge thank you to all those who, contributed, organized and came out to support our annual plant-sale fundraiser June 3.

Spring has come to Whistler, slowly this year but we're luscious and green now.

Thank you all, the ever-optimistic gardeners who volunteer each year: Laura Wallace, Annette Miller, Mike and Janet Jean, Kris Shoup, Marrianna Orr, Jack and Jessie Pendygrasse, Maureen Chaddock, Susan and Gord Annand, Jane Finlayson, Heather Matthew, Richard and Christy Auer and the mystery girl from the Garden Club.

Thank you Starbucks for generously providing coffee. Thank you Out on a Limb and the Resort Municipality of Whistler for donating truck loads of bulbs (we will be selling dried and sorted bulbs in the library in September), and thank you again for Nesters' wonderful donation of annual bedding plants.

Collectively we raised close to $1,600 for the Whistler Library and we plan to do it again next spring.

The Friends of the Library meet the third Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. — all are welcome to come out and support this great institution.

Christy Auer
The Friends of the Whistler Library

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