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When I heard of the demise of our good friend Dave Sheets today I skied behind a large spine jump in the Blackcomb terrain park where I was shooting, and shed a few private tears in disbelief. As I walked to Brandy’s to have a quiet beer with Tanya in honour of Dave, I called my ex-wife and told her she wouldn’t have to worry about Dave rubbing the top of her head anymore, as that was how he used to greet her. She hated that! I’m sure she’ll miss it now.

During my life in Whistler, I’ve lost a number of friends to the mountains, to the rivers, to nature. This is the world we live in and love. It sucks that it happens, but we play the game and we all know the possibility is there.

Dave is another amazing, wonderful spirit, that has been taken from us far too soon, and I always have to wonder why the very special people are so often the ones. Is there some greater purpose that I can’t understand at work here?

Statements like "Only the good die young" ring through my head. Why is that?

I try to take away the pain by telling myself "God’s making a ski team, and he’s only picking the best!" Then I jump to, "It’s that Trevor, Stevie, Lumpy, Brett, Kim, and the gang, need an update on what’s going on down here, so someone’s got to take news." Right away I can picture Trevor’s pride in Tanya’s strength to have brought up his two outstanding kids in his absence, and I start to feel a bit better. Then I can hear Stevie’s comments about the state of the world, in his dry, witty humour, and then I smile. I can think of any one of the amazing characters and precious gems that have been snatched away from us, and hear their voices, clear as day. I recall numerous situations and events that endeared them to me. Thoughts that send a tear to my eye or a chill up my spine. Then I think, "Wait a second, Seppo, Rabbit, Craig! They must be giving the gang updates! They don’t need Dave this soon!" That can’t be the answer.

I arrive at Brandy’s and I see the familiar faces milling around the back door. Subdued greetings and comments of Dave are exchanged and I make my way inside. Within no time, the place is packed with a lot of the core crew of Whistler, from 20-year locals to first timers. The subdued greetings build to a roar. A feeling comes over me that is hard to explain, but I feel comfort, and a sense of family. I think of Dave.

Why these people are taken from us, I’ll never know the answer. But as I sit here now, I truly cherish the memories of these lost friends, and the friendship of all these amazing people who I get to see day in and day out, or some only once in a blue moon, and feel truly blessed. Is this the positive thing that we’re supposed to take from this tragedy?

We live in the best place in the world, so everyday I wake up and look at the sunrise coming over the mountain, or the snow dumping down on my back porch, and I feel like the most privileged person in the world. What happened today magnifies that three-fold.

Sheetsy, I’m going to miss you.

Bruce Rowles

Whistler

 

Honourable Minister of Finance Gary Collins

1. Please disabuse your mind of any idea that people at Whistler are rich. Yes, there are owners of multi-million dollar houses – Trophy Homes – they pay a lot of taxes, but they don't live here.

Then there are residents, who are retirees, like me, and workers who stuck it out through or during the dark times of the early ’80s, who are not rich. The escalating values and the tax system are killing the community. This is not a good thing as it was less than 20 years ago that property here was almost worthless. The current crazy values are tempting people to take advantage and cash in. The young people with families are selling out and moving to Squamish and Pemberton. They are the people that make the community. We can't afford to lose them.

2. The first killer is the Home Owner Grant. I am in Brio, a modest area and every property I know of in this area is assessed at a value that disqualifies a resident owner from claiming the Home Owner Grant. I believe this applies throughout Whistler. Why is there a ceiling? That was introduced by the NDP as an act of class warfare – the usual insanity without knowledge of the consequences. The "little people" (as WAC Bennett called home-owners) of Whistler deserve the relief of the Home Owner Grant.

3. The second killer is the school taxes. Whistler taxpayers, resident and non-resident, pay a highly disproportionate amount of these taxes for the whole Sea to Sky corridor. These taxes increase year by year, even while the municipality holds the line. Why is it that school taxes are levied against property? Before 1996, I had correspondence with then Mr. Gordon Campbell who agreed that taxes should not be levied against real property for school purposes and that was a part of the B.C. Liberal platform in 1996. What has happened to that principle?

4. The best answer is to do away with both the Home Owner Grant and the school taxes on real property. Failing that, you must, at the least, extend the Home Owner Grant to any resident, regardless of assessment value. And then, you must do something about the killer school taxes.

Unless you take positive action, Whistler will become a virtual ghost town by 2010 with mainly non-resident Trophy Home owners and service people commuting from Squamish, Lions Bay, Pemberton and D’Arcy. That would not be good for this community and it would be a disaster for major events such as the Olympics.

Clive V. Nylander

Whistler

 

I would like to thank you for a well balanced article about the library/museum project. We appreciate the help in communicating to the community the struggle we are having in realizing this facility.

The library is desperate for a new home as was reinforced over the weekend when once again the roof leaked and we almost lost thousands of dollars worth of books. The trailers are well past their time.

Anne Fenwick

Whistler

 

Over the past two years I have had to deal directly with numerous micro-hydro proponents and with the provincial and federal regulatory agencies in an effort have the needs of recreational and tourism users heard, and to look toward preserving some of our local waterways.

I applaud the SLRD for their efforts at planning for these micro-hydro power projects in this area. However, if the municipal governments in this area wish to be leaders, let us not simply construct more "green" projects here, but rather let us lead in a program of conservation and wise use of the energy that is currently produced in this area, and beyond that, of a reduction in energy consumption. This will ensure the efforts of Whistler, in a bid to be a green community, are truly a model for the other municipalities, and for others world wide. This negates the need for current or future impacts to our local streams and rivers, no matter how "green" those impacts might be.

I also ask, where is BC Hydro’s social responsibility that is touted in their promotion of micro-hydro as green energy? Recreational instream users have asked to have input on the criteria that BC Hydro uses to define "green energy." BC Hydro has declined to consider that input. BC Hydro has also declined to meet with recreational users to discuss these issues – not face to face, not at meetings with the regulatory agencies, and not as part of the Land Resource Management Planning process in the SLRD. In the absence of an overall plan by the province, and at least currently by the SLRD, it is BC Hydro’s Energy Purchase Agreements that are driving the project proposals in this area. While doing so, BC Hydro’s business-model process remains outside the realm of public input. When will community, recreation, and tourism needs be heard in BC Hydro’s process for evaluating project proposals?

Given the lack of a plan for distributing province-wide the micro-hydro projects that might provide energy for B.C.’s needs, when will the SLRD cease to be burdened with the power production needs of the province? The SLRD currently produces power far beyond its needs, and given the current, and expanding importance of tourism and recreation activities in this area, why are we even considering this large number of projects in a corridor where other use values are so high, and so clearly important?

If there is a need to have some of these micro-hydro projects in this area, when will we have a process that ensures that the correct projects are built here – not simply the first projects to come along, or those put forth by the corporations with the most time and money to do so?

After the obvious concerns that have come forth from the Miller Creek Project, many are now acutely aware of some of the "less than green" issues that accompany these projects. At the same time, let us recognize the efforts of the project developers who have chosen to work co-operatively with local interests, be they First Nations, recreational instream users, or local communities. Let us also recognize that there are a number of other project proponents who attempt to avoid dealing with recreation instream users, or First Nations when proposing their projects, or do so in a confrontational manner.

I ask the SLRD to consider the efforts of the community-minded project developers when evaluating proposals, and to look to working with them in considering appropriate projects that maintain our community values, while considering future needs.

On top of all of this, there are negative free-trade implications of an energy-production market where independents may sell power directly to international markets. This promotes more impacts in our communities, while benefits are once again exported elsewhere.

These are some important unanswered questions, and at present the disconcerted flood of power project proposals, each proponent seeking their approvals without reference to a large scale plan, is clearly unacceptable.

Stuart Smith

Via e-mail

 

The Alta Lake School would like to thank all of those who attended the Tango Paradiso concert at MY Place on Valentine's Day. The musicians and dancers were splendid and the audience was equally enthusiastic and appreciative.

An advertisement and article in last week's Pique suggested that the concert was part of the Celebration 2010 Festival. In fact, the concert was put on by the Alta Lake School in conjunction with Millennium Place and had no affiliation with the 2010 Olympic bid.

Again, thanks to all those who attended and helped make it such a great event.

Peggy Vogler

President, The Alta Lake School

 

It has been said that if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.

The meeting of Lions Bay "next-to-the-highway folks," Feb. 11, 2003, summed as an "ad hoc" group, never really happened. Instead, the session was orchestrated by members of the community advisory group, recently appointed by the village council, who engaged in tactics that obfuscated the announced intention and allowed for little more that the sharing of diverse opinions in an open forum. Moreover, the attention given immediate concerns all but eclipsed long-range considerations. Most, if not all, immediate concerns voiced (safety, noise, exhaust fumes, etc.), can be solved without building a four-lane highway; constructing a four-lane highway only adds a number of critical and largely intractable long-range problems.

Either we have wimps as leaders, or our leaders have, for political reasons, already sold out to the "powers that be" (read Victoria, Whistler and the Olympic Committees). Lions Bay is one blunder away from oblivion. Yet we are summoned to submit individual suggestions regarding proposed "improvements" – a procedure that inevitably obscures the ultimate carnage we face. Leadership demands vision, courage, passion and commitment. Leaders need to risk leading if they expect anyone to follow.

Is no one willing to stand up for the future destiny of our vulnerable village? Is no one willing to uphold the historic and scenic value of the Sea-to-Sky? Has the alternative inland route so desperately needed in our times, and for years touted as the best option, simply been deleted from the screen of possibility? Postponed only to be constructed later, after what we now have has been destroyed? Long-term considerations are as significant as immediate needs; ignored now they will only rise to haunt us later.

Other nations of the world, including the USA, have constructed their major service arteries inland in order to maintain the pristine beauty of their coastal areas, and wherever possible are reclaiming areas previously lost. If we do not seize the opportunity now it will be lost forever.

Lawrence W. Denef

Lions Bay