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Letters to the editor

This week's letters

Follow the Squamish model

Re: Privatize away (Pique letters Feb. 10)

Privatization of the Meadow Park Pool Facility is not the answer.

Squamish workers who maintain the "Sparkling and clean" facility which the writer describes are members of CUPE Local 2269. Thanks for the recognition of the condition of the facility. Meadow Park workers are non-union, although working for the Resort Municipality of Whistler. One can only imagine the sorry state of affairs if the facility were privatized.

Follow the Squamish model, not the "let’s make a buck" off swimmers, private sector mentality.

Jim Allan

President, CUPE 2269 Squamish

Save our money

To quote ING's TV ad: "Everyone wants Your money! Someone's hand is always in Your pocket!" In this case, Squamish council's hand in our taxpayers’ pockets. Why? To pay for a bunch of "amenities" about which:1) we have no information: 2) we don't know the individual project costs; 3) don't know the interest charges; 4) don't know the yearly operating and maintenance costs; 5) don't know the likely cost over-runs; 6) don't know which will have priority. We are being asked to buy a pig-in-a-poke and trust in this council and its lack of transparency.

Undoubtedly any one of these amenities would be a boon. But would you run your house or business this way? Would you go out and incur a huge debt, without any idea as to what you were buying; without comparison shopping; without figuring out if you could afford the project/item, plus its monthly interest costs; and without knowing what it would cost you long-term? Think Tom Hanks and "The Money Pit". Would a reputable financial institution even give you a pre-approved mortgage – often fatuously cited by certain council members – without sufficient back-up assets, planning, analysis, and financial projections? That's wishful thinking.

Contrary to what certain council members try to make us believe, there is a big difference between council seeking a "pre-approved mortgage" (i.e. the $20+ million loan) and you as an individual seeking one. What is that? Well, individuals actually have to rely on themselves to pay off the mortgage (loan) principal and interest, plus insurance and taxes. In contrast, our councillors (except Madame Lonsdale) can put us taxpayers – and even our children – into the position of incurring a loan/debt, whether or not we want it; paying off that loan with interest over many years; incurring on-going operating and maintenance charges; and, then, as costs are racked up, dip their hands into our pockets again and say "hand over". As individuals we don't have the same recourse. Moreover, if the District defaults, or goes into over-runs, who pays? We do! We have in the past, we will in the future. The District doesn't get re-possessed; it doesn't lose its home or trailer. This contributes to a councillor attitude of free-spending and irresponsible money management which we taxpayers personally can't afford, especially if on fixed or almost non-existent incomes.

The mayor's cavalier attitude, supported by the majority of council, that it's only the cost of one pizza per month, or only $159.63 per year based on an assessed home value of $260,000, is misleading and fallacious. Even a cheap pizza/month means around $144/year. As one hard-working mother of two said: "We can't afford even that. We're part of the working poor and every penny counts. That's $720 over five years!" Also, how many homes now sell for $260,000 in Squamish? More realistically, we're looking at an extra $221.02/year tacked on to our taxes (based on $360,000 homes that have jumped in price). For many homeowners that is not a 2.5 per cent tax increase. That is closer to 21 per cent! Over five years, that is at least an extra $1,105. Apart from that, why should we feel grateful that our free-spending council will cap our tax increase in 2005 at 2.5 per cent? Why not zero? Were we not told by this council that all the Big Box, Wal-Mart, Factory Outlet, residential and business developments would bring in more taxes and so stabilize and reduce our taxes? Why doesn't council seek bigger and better community amenities from those developments which are being given prime Squamish locations, instead of, for example, a measley $100,000 from Wal-Mart? Why not seek developer or corporate sponsorships of the amenities?

Yes, it would be great to have lots of new amenities. Personally I would like to see the aquatic centre expanded. But, people do not come to Squamish for a sheet of ice, a soccer field, a race track, contrary to what some council members say. They come for Squamish's amazing, unique scenery, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. They stay because of decent infrastructure (roads, sewers, dykes, drainage, downtown and affordable housing). Right now much of Squamish's needed and necessary infrastructure is in a shocking state and should have priority over wanted amenities. If we want extra amenities, let's be creative – plus financially and fiscally responsible – and come up with new ways of funding those, besides having someone else's hand in our pockets. Vote "no" on Feb. 26th.

By the way, how much of our taxpayers' dollars has council spent on this amenities promotion (flyers, leaflets, brochures), publicity, advertisements and community forums?

T. Carroll


Second serve

In September 2004 my wife and I wrote to the mayor concerning the deplorable conditions which exist at the Whistler Racquet Club.

The tennis facility was originally proposed to be a "world class" tennis centre, four indoor courts, 13 outdoor all weather courts, luxury spa, etc., etc.

This did not eventuate and sadly the present club has been so neglected that it is more "third world" than "world class."

We would like answers to the following:

Did the original owners of the site pay the RMOW $300,000 in exchange for building a tennis centre of a much lower quality with fewer indoor and outdoor courts than was proposed?

Has the present owner of the site offered to retire the Millennium Place debt and exchange some other benefits, in order to develop townhomes on part of the existing courts?

If so, will this money and other benefits go back to the tennis club?

Most importantly, will Whistler ever get the "world class" tennis centre, which was originally planned and approved by the RMOW?

Answers to these queries would be appreciated.

I understand that several proposals from both the present owners and the tennis community have been put to the RMOW. Let's not allow a "band aid" solution be applied to the present club and deprive Whistler of the "world class" facility which it deserves.

Surely you must recognize that when we have poor skiing conditions indoor racquet sports are one of the few activities in which visitors can participate.

Maxwell E. Dutch



So typically Whistler

After reading the Feb. 10 edition of Pique Newsmagazine I was so outraged by three different items I decided I had to write a letter if only to at least calm myself.

First of all the article on the Supreme Court ruling that found two local bars 15 per cent liable each for injuries sustained by one of their patrons who was tragically paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident. Mr. Schweighardt explains he was shocked by this decision and he makes sure people that are leaving the establishment he manages (Buffalo Bill’s) aren't stumbling out the front door, are leaving with responsible individuals and are directed to taxis. Well that sounds super but that is simply not happening. A person is considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol content is over .08. A person weighing 200 pounds would be over the legal limit after only four drinks. Bars are in the business of selling alcohol and they are very skilled at doing this. The bartenders and servers aren't there for the hourly wage. They survive on their tips; the more they sell the more they make. Therefore we shouldn't be shocked at the court’s ruling but we should be shocked that this doesn't happen more frequently. Anyone who walks through the village between midnight and 2 a.m. will experience the chaos that is our responsible bar scene.

This brings me to my second beef, which was the article First Person: Eldon Beck. Eldon Beck was described as the soft spoken, down-to-earth American who was the mastermind behind Whistler Village. A question posed to the mastermind was how to fix the noise problem in the village from late night drinkers coming out of the bars? His brilliant answer was to live with it! He then went on to say it's common sense but common sense and good liquor doesn't necessarily go hand in hand. It's finding a way of accepting certain aspects of life.

Wow! How very Americanly profound. Maybe we should accept the Patriot Act here in Canada as well. Good liquor? I could think of quite a few adjectives for the liquid evil that is one of the largest causes of preventable deaths in Canada but "good" wouldn't be one of them.

The third and most painful addition to my madness was the advertisement by CUPE 2010 for Whistler's municipal workers. You must think we have all been indulging in copious amounts of this so-called good liquor if you think the community will bend over and accept the idea of supporting a living allowance for our poor, poor municipal workers. What the? Who the? Why the? Are you insane? This is so typically Whistler. Let’s give a break to the workers who already earn a decent wage while we stick it to the under-paid back bone of our community. If the mayor and council allow this insanity we should storm municipal hall and raise Cain like the responsible, drunken madmen that we have allowed ourselves to become.

Tim Gorgichuk


True colours

I can't say I was surprised to see Whistler-Blackcomb bragging about their recent expansion on several large billboards in downtown Vancouver. The text portion reads, "We couldn't leave big enough alone."

Charming. Very sustainable, too.

It has to make you wonder how long it will be before W-B announces plans for a series of backcountry huts (or worse, lifts) throughout the Spearheads. I can see the photo-op and media session with Doug Forseth saying, "we wanted to offer a different kind of experience" and "we need more high alpine terrain to bring certainty to our operations," while Arthur DeJong greenwashes proceedings with comments like, "we're trying to mitigate the impact of rising freezing levels and other global warming issues."

Can't be long now, can it?

Mark Grist

North Vancouver/Nelson


Enough with signs, negative opinions

I propose to my fellow whistler property owners that the municipality bylaws department ban "real estate for sale" signs in the valley. Subject say to a review in two years. Too many for sale signs is not in our best interest. Two of Whistler’s best selling subdivisions implementation of this rule has proven it successful. Whistler real estate is a better buy now than ever if you look at what’s happened to rest of the province. I would think it’s also a good draft free hedge for Americans faced with a prospect of sliding currency.

I also request of the press to refrain from publishing negative opinion pieces, be they letters or staff articles, regarding Americans. It is very bad style to verbally assault someone who is already under attack. There are many other Whistler issues I would rather read about. I am tired of being embarrassed by the negative opinion crap that is printed in the local papers nowadays. Public bad attitude is not good for the resort. Please clean up your act, Pique. Thanks very much from all of us.

Bruce MacDonald



Do airports make sense?

I have operated an air service in Whistler for 20 years and during that time there have been several studies done regarding air service in this corridor. None of the consultants hired to do these studies have ever asked for my opinion so I guess I will just have to volunteer it.

A little history is in order. The Pemberton airport was started by a group of locals who liked to fly and had access to heavy equipment (i.e. loggers). They selected an area that was close to town, that had the only flat land not used as farm land and that worked for the small aircraft they used. It was an island sandwiched between the Green and Lillooet rivers at the base of Mount Currie. In the early to mid-80s, as Whistler was just beginning its growth spurt, a plan was hatched to make this local grass strip "Whistler's" airport. Local politicians convinced Ottawa politicians that Pemberton was a good location to showcase the newly created and government subsidized Dehavilland Dash 7 aircraft as well as the new Microwave Landing System developed by Micronav of Sydney, Nova Scotia, also a heavily subsidized entity. Air B.C. at the time was an initial purchaser of the Dash 7 and was brought into the plan. Five Million tax dollars later reality set in. After a few years of trying, they couldn't get the Microwave Landing System to operate properly in the mountains and in any event new satellite technology was making it obsolete even before it got started. About the same time Air B.C. decided the Dash 7 was a dog of an aircraft and switched to Dash 8s. The wheels came off the wagon.

To fly in and out of an airport in all weather conditions as most people are used to doing requires a lot of considerations regarding backup procedures. In aviation you always think about the what ifs. The reason the Dash 7 is one of the few aircraft that could be certified for use in Pemberton is because being a four-engine aircraft it is the only turboprop aircraft that could lose an engine and still be able to climb out of the valley if the weather wasn't good enough to land. Satellite technology is good enough today to get a reasonable approach into the Pemberton Valley for a Dash 7 type aircraft. The question still is though, does it make business sense? Dash 7 type aircraft are short haul aircraft. This means the only destinations it could be expected to serve are Vancouver and Seattle. Does it makes sense to fly to Whistler via Pemberton from Vancouver? I don't think so. The fact is in most cases you could drive here quicker from YVR for a lot less money. The Seattle market is a little more promising but it is still a regional market prone to mostly weekend use and probably limited given the likely high ticket prices that would be required to justify the low utilization that you would get with a winter service constrained by daylight, weather and fog.

The best business case is the one that Intrawest proposed using 737 type aircraft to satisfy the medium haul markets of North America. The problem there is these aircraft require stricter approach and departure procedures due to their size and speed. I would like to be proved wrong, but I just can't see a 737 getting approval from Transport Canada to make that sharp 60 degree turn on short final that would be required for a landing at Pemberton. The fact is for these type of aircraft the Pemberton airport is in the absolute worst location in the Pemberton Valley. It is not aligned with the valley, it is right at the base of a huge mountain and it is in the fog pit between the rivers. Of course it was never created with that purpose in mind.

The location being investigated by the RMOW near Brandywine is even more constricted than the Pemberton Airport. Again I would love to be proved wrong but the fact is even if you can find a straight piece of land long enough to safely land a 737 the approach and missed approach procedures would be so gnarly Transport Canada would have to rewrite the book on certification. Good Luck!

Actually if the RMOW is serious about air transport they should dig through their files from 1985. There they will find a proposal made by an old friend of mine, Cliff Oakley. His plan was to put an air bubble system in Green Lake (it’s cheap, it works and it has been done before) and keep a strip open in the winter for floatplanes. If the weather during the Olympics is like this year, floatplanes could move hundreds of people a day between Vancouver and Whistler.

Mike Quinn

Whistler Air


Vicious Circle widens

The Vicious Circle, the Whistler Writers’ Group, in conjunction with Celebration 2010: Whistler Arts Festival 2005, hosted Literary Leanings 2005, a literary gala on Feb. 20th and 21st at Uli's Flipside. We built it and you came – 120 of you over the two-night event. Thank you Whistler for your continued support of our literary community. Thanks for paying attention to our writing and coming out to show your support in tangible terms, bums in seats.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Province of British Columbia, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler and the Whistler Arts Council for their financial and ongoing support.

These types of events are successful because of the community that participates in our events, financial support and the hard work of many individuals. Specifically I would also like to thank Pique Newsmagazine, the Question and Mountain FM for getting the word out, the good folks at Uli's Flipside who catered to our every need and made everyone welcome, to Dan and Annie at Armchair Books who made our author's books available, to Joan Richoz and the library, to Rebecca Wood Barrett and Brandi Higgins who served as MCs over the two evenings and kept us entertained, and to the talented writers themselves who bravely read their words, including: headliners Aislinn Hunter (Vancouver), George Bowering (Vancouver), Bill Gaston (Victoria), and Arthur Black (Salt Spring Island); milieu press writers Morgan Chojnacki, Lori McNulty, Seema Shah and Lindsay Diehl, all from Vancouver; and Whistler based writers Rebecca Wood Barrett, Brandi Higgins, Sara Leach, Pam Barnsley, Stephen Vogler, Lisa Richardson and Paul Malm.

Thanks again.

Stella L. Harvey

Founder, The Vicious Circle


Thanks for the wind

The Three Sheets to the Wind Memorial for our friend Dave Sheets was such a success as a party that it took an extra week to get my head together to write this.

To The Reverend Micheal Varin and his staff of Giant Love Cuppers, a ton of thanks for taking the idea and making it a reality. Truly a great job of organizational effort.

To the boys full of A Whole Lotta Lead, phenomenal job. You sounded great and did Sheetsy a true honour with your music.

To The Bro with the Red Bull, you probably kept a whole lotta folks up later than they expected to be.

To all those who again contributed to the memorial fund by buying the Sheetsy Toques, that is another $1,000 to the program. Well Done.

To all our friends who showed up to celebrate the memories of Dave by shakin’ it down and having a few Rye nots….. SEND IT!!

Chris Quinlan