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Letters to the Editor

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Although I try and keep myself reasonably informed I must have missed a recent announcement regarding Millennium Place.

Over the last few years I certainly heard Mayor Hugh O’Reilly as he asked for contributions towards the construction of the copper-roofed "Heart of Whistler." I was equally attentive when council rushed the decision to have us taxpayers guarantee $2 million of MY Place’s fund-raising shortfall. What I must have missed is the wonderful news that the municipality is now off the hook and MY Place is debt free.

I assume Millennium Place is now paid for because our mayor (along with Pamela Martin) is asking for more money, not for MY Place but towards the new $9 million library-museum (the "Educational Heart of Whistler"). Surely our politicians wouldn’t start such an irresponsible thing as fund-raising for a new project if we still had a shortfall on the last one.

Perhaps this is once again just poor communication from our leadership. Maybe at the next council meeting we will hear the tremendous news of the recent termination of Millennium Place’s $2 million guarantee.

Dave Davenport

Whistler

 

I was at Benny's Market in Vancouver Saturday, March 16, doing a photo shoot and discussing a job, when the conversation turned to Whistler. Janice Benedetti, one of the owners of the store, said that her friend was just killed in a car crash while coming home from Whistler on Sunday March 10. We talked in general terms about the person who was in this single car crash, but as she revealed more information about her friend, I began to realize that I may know who she's talking about. My fears were indeed realized when Janice told me the name of her friend, Roy Bissett.

Roy was, for three years, my crew chief when I worked as a Whistler Weasel Worker. A good and kind person, Roy was full of life and always had an interesting or funny story to tell. He was for many years a member of the Vancouver Fire Department, so you can imagine some of the things he had done and seen. Roy was the kind of guy who worked hard, and truly enjoyed his off-time in the company of friends. I admired Roy for the way he always led by example and for always having at the ready a kind and encouraging word for others.

I can't say that I knew Roy well, but he did, in the short time that I knew him, leave a positive impression on my life. Roy Bissett will not be forgotten.

Craig Heighway

Vancouver, BC

 

I was sorry to read the criticisms of the booklet "Whistler. It’s our Nature." Disparagement and criticism are so easy.

I did learn from the booklet even though already absorbed in environmental issues, and it may well be that others will also learn and comply. No doubt the pamphlet was expensive in money and volunteer time, but the effort was worth it: a beginning, and incentive to others.

More power to the authors.

David Jones

Whistler

 

As a taxi driver I am appalled at the level of violence and drunken hooliganism that has been escalating at an alarming rate during bar rush hour, and mainly in the taxi loop. Finally, an unprovoked attack on a driver has left me with concerns for our safety and well being. I am urging this council, RCMP, drinking establishments and the management of the taxi company to find a solution.

Olwen Kuiper

Whistler

 

I have really had enough of this! Since last fall I was watching my two mail boxes twice a week getting stuffed with the Whistler Question.

When it first happened, I inquired at Canada Post about the reasons why. They answered, that The Question pays for it and they have to distribute the newspaper. If I did not like it, I should try the office of The Question. So I went and spoke with the editor. Basically with no results. They just told me to put my name on a sheet of paper and they’ll look into it. Nothing happened. This was last fall.

Since then, whenever I empty my mail boxes, I feel a growing anger. Canada Post is nice enough to respect my wish for no junk mail. Apparently they have no legislation against stuffing my box with a "community newspaper."

This is a free country. Why do I get a paper shoved in my face that I have no intention to read? Since I recycle, I actually have to take this thing with me and then discard it in my recycle box, which fills up much faster now. What a waste!

According to Canada Post there are lots of other locals that feel the same way about it and their waste basket in the mailbox room is overflowing with this newspaper. I have even seen some people just fling it to the floor (which only punishes the cleaning crew and not the real culprits!). Apparently Canada Post has sometimes difficulty getting all the mail for the people into the boxes, so they have to put holding cards into the box instead. Can we not all do something against it? If there are 1,000 people, requesting to NOT get this paper can you imagine how much less wasted paper there is?

Wouldn’t that be in the spirit of this whole Sustainability issue which is all over town right now? The first of the three "R’s" in reduce, reuse, recycle.

Oh yes, and if we can not do anything within the community (start a petition?) I suggest that locals who feel like I do, call the customer service line of Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177. Graciously, the friendly people from Canada Post have now opened a file with my name on it to check into the fact that I am getting a piece of mail that is NOT addressed to me and that I don’t want. After all, I am paying rent for this mail box. Maybe we can start something here if enough of us call Canada Post?

Forget about talking to the folks at The Question itself They are only concerned about reporting that ALL people of Whistler are reading their newspaper. Yeah, right.

Helene Steiner

Whistler

 

WOW! We live in a great community! Over the past few weeks, our family of four have been participants in two tremendously successful and positive community events; namely the "Pemberton Loppet", and more recently, the "Caribbean Night."

• "THANK YOU" to all those countless volunteers who contributed so much time and energy to provide such positive events for people of our community of all ages. It is really appreciated!

• "THANK YOU" to all the sponsors who generously provide prizes time and time again. There are so many worthwhile events and activities where you faithfully give.

• "THANK YOU" to other community "folk" who give so much positive feedback and encouragement to our girls (ages 7 and 4 ). It is wonderful to attend events where our kids have so much fun, participate in really positive activities, surrounded by such caring people.

All in all, we feel very blessed to live where we do.

Mark, Kathy, Rachel, & Hannah Leverton

Pemberton

 

This letter was addressed to mayor and council

Re: World Economic Forum

I have read with interest the recent articles regarding the hosting of the World Economic Forum in Whistler. I contribute this information for the simple fact that my firm, Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd., has been working on the planning of the ski areas and village in Davos, Switzerland since 1994. I have travelled to Davos well over 30 times during that period and have come to know the mayor, a number of city councillors, the head of the Tourist Office, main shareholder of the ski lift company, the board of directors of the AG Davos-Parsenn-Bahnen (lift company) and many other local people. What surprises me greatly is the suggestions by Mayor O’Reilly and Councilor Milner of the rather benign consequences of hosting the World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum was founded by Mr. Klaus Schwab and supported by Mr. Bruno Gerber, the recently retired Director and General Manager of the Davos Tourism Office in an attempt to fill empty tourist beds in the last week of January of each year. While Mr. Schwab has promised to return the WEF to Davos in January 2003, he has already informed the Davosers that he will be moving the WEF to Whistler in 2004. Is this a done deal?

The World Economic Forum started with humble beginnings and grew steadily until it was reaching, to my knowledge, approximately 2,000 delegates with an additional half again in press and media. Unfortunately, the amount of violence in the community has escalated substantially during the last four years to the point where the citizens of Davos became fed up. For our council to tell us that the deal had to be kept secret not to hurt the feelings of Davos is to bend the facts substantially. To my knowledge, after the "debacle in Davos" in January 2001, the WEF was asked politely to shop around and see if some other unwitting community would accept their elite entourage of politicians, corporate giants and hangers-on.

After a visit to Whistler last spring by Klaus Schwab himself, there was a push on to nominate and award the WEF event to Whistler as soon as possible. Fortune arose in at least two ways. Firstly, a number of the true leaders of Whistler exhibited reticence over the idea to the point where our elected officials decided to at least postpone the event and secondly, Sept. 11 hit New York City, which was able to accept the World Economic Forum on relatively short notice as a "symbolic gesture."

So what happened in Davos last year? According to the leaders and locals I have spoken with in Davos, the costs to provide police security for the WEF rose exponentially over the years. It was initially a million dollars, then two million, then five, then seven; and in 2001, reached an astounding $11.5 million. After substantial riots and damage in the Village of Davos in January 2000, the Village of Davos was able to negotiate an 80/20 split with the Federal Government of Switzerland, which means the local taxpayers picked up about $3 million for the WEF security costs in January 2001. In January of 2001, Davos was shut down like a concentration camp with the roads blocked from the north, south and east with extremely tight security, razor wire, riot police, you name it. Business volumes in Davos, high season in all winter sports areas being the last week of January and the first week of February, fell to unprecedented levels. A local councillor claims that it is "only five days" but actually because it starts on a Thursday and ends on a Monday, the WEF disrupts two full weeks of bookings for hotels, the lift companies, shops, restaurants etc. due to the necessity of gearing up for the event several days in advance and then giving the VIPs a couple of days to get out of town.

When the protesters were blocked from entering Davos in January of 2001, they banded together at the frontiers and proceeded to move to Zurich and according to new reports, trashed several districts of Switzerland’s main city, causing significant property damage and personal injuries.

The town of Davos has 13,500 residents and about 36,250 tourist beds so it is even greater in size and stature than our World Class Whistler. I would hasten to say that the elected officials and leaders of Davos have gained a certain amount of sophistication in dealing with tourists from all over the world as well as the élite of the World Economic Forum. I truly question whether we possess similar levels of sophistication in Whistler, or are we really "babes in the woods" being hoodwinked by the big bad wolf?

The problem I have with the WEF is twofold. After my discussions in Davos with leaders and locals alike, it is my opinion that the majority wish to rid their idyllic mountain town of the WEF plague. So to think that we at Whistler are being chosen "over" Davos due to our sophisticated politicians and great weather is an anathema to me. Secondly, is the issue of costs. Our elected officials are ashamed to describe the very substantial costs to our taxpayers and long-term customers of Whistler, as opposed to the very minor benefits which accrue to the very few politicians who are chosen to rub shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates, Yassar Arafat and rent skis to Desmond Tutu. That we can press the issue of sustainability onto these mega-men is somewhat laughable to me.

At the moment, even with my advanced science degree, I am not quite sure what the "Natural Step" is other than good common sense, and I have fears that this is some consultant’s Ponsi scheme trying to rip off our community. The first "product" has been a handbook called "The Household Tool Kit" that should have rightfully been distributed at Myrtle Philip Elementary School but has rather added unsustainable mass to our rapidly diminishing landfill near Odiferous Junction.

Sustainability to me means that the cost of living in Whistler should be such that the folks in the Toad Hall poster from 1971 should be able to afford the property taxes on the homes we built with our gamble on "pioneer" land prices and most often our own hands to craft our dwellings. I would further point out to you that our basic infrastructure is in disrepair. The road I live on, Alta Lake Road, looks like a highway in Afghanistan after the US bombing. Whistler Secondary School has just been ranked No. 133 in the Province out of 276 and Pemberton Secondary has gleaned the great honour of being 272 out of 276. To me, the World Economic Forum will cost us taxpayers at minimum $2 million and quite possibly $4 million; all for the privilege of having our community sealed off from the free world for at minimum five days and more likely seven days.

I therefore respectfully request that you, our elected representatives, do not take the representations of others at face value but research the actual happenings of the WEF in Davos during the last several years and honestly tell us taxpayers the costs and benefits of this proposal.

I appreciate that our mayor and council believe this could be an opportunity for Whistler to be a leader in the world and "get our name out there"; however, I must point out to you that there are a number of people in the world who meet Kings, Queens, presidents and arms dealers without inviting them home for dinner. I have the privilege of working in 25 countries and to me, the image of Whistler from those countries looking back here is that we, in Whistler and in Western Canada, have a reputation for sport, unsurpassed beauty, nature and peace. To bring riot police, razor wire and the very disparate group of corporate leaders from the World Economic Forum into Whistler and change our positive image is a very bad move for the future of Whistler.

I kindly request that we cease and desist from this current madness and focus on the things that are important such as better services, better schools and lower taxes.

Paul E. Mathews

President

Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.

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