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Letters to the editor

This Week's Letters

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Items left off the (arena) list  Last week’s "Just getting started..." list (Pique letters Oct. 20), for the "road map" for the Paralympic arena, was a couple of key points shy. It might also include...

Task ten: Create spin to explain away soaring construction cost overruns. (Use something about legacies, our children or the Maple Leaf as starting points.)

Task eleven: Blame "nay sayers," NIMBYS and staff for the low revenue stream and underperforming occupancies realized after 2010.

Task twelve: Fault the locals for not "interacting" with the tourists and continuing to use Meadow Park as the "community's centre."

Task thirteen: Point the finger at the Philistines who don't know klass entertainment when they miss it.

Task fourteen: And finally, don't even think about learning from other Olympic boondoggles; take no lessons from Whistler's private and public sectors that have poured money into numerous economic sink holes on big projects; continue to rush holus-bolus into a "...we'll spend and tax ourselves out of this down turn no matter what the cost" business (sic) mentality.

"Damn the torpedoes... full speed ahead!"

Brian Buchholz

Whistler

 

 

Congratulations

On behalf of the proponents of the "business community" Paralympic Arena proposal, I take great pleasure in offering our congratulations to council and the RMOW for their collective foresight in their decision to look beyond negative influences and move a step closer to realizing an enduring legacy. Investing in the spirit and future of Whistler demands vision and commitment at all levels of community, and this commitment reflects fortitude in leadership at a crossroads in Whistler’s evolution that demands nothing less.

Embracing this visionary project – and delivering an innovative, dynamic and sustainable solution – should serve as a beacon to illustrate Whistler’s positive spirit and proactive capabilities to the world. Ultimately, it will become a gesture central to the success of Whistler’s quest to re-establish its rightful position in the upper echelon of the best resort communities on the planet.

Philip Davis

IntersectGroup/Azurean Architecture/VIA+Cochrane/Norbert

 

Dinky Rink: Rome wasn’t built overnight!

I thought I’d better share my thoughts here for the first time after living here for 14 years, since so many important decisions need to be made in the next while.

First, I’d like to point out that I made a trip down to Utah during the Park City/Salt Lake City Winter Olympics with my business partner. I wanted to be more aware of how the Olympics might affect our business, my town and my lifestyle here in fantasyland. First I discovered, after talking to many Park City realtors, shop owners and locals, that real estate prices dropped like crazy for at least the three years prior to the Olympic events. Landlords raised rents and shops and condos stayed empty. We found our place just days before the events and it was really cheap. The ski hills were empty, nobody bought $800 skis. It seemed that sports spectators generally bring their whole family and eat in their condos; the adventure companies were dead.

What was doing well was the huge corporate sponsors who blocked off all the local shops and streets. Coke tents had all the concessions, logo wear and Olympic paraphernalia.

Let’s be real here and realize that couch potato-type people that watch sports aren’t the same as those we’re accustomed to, who participate in sports.

I’ll vote for Norbert’s multi-use rink that will bring a wide range of guests to the resort, otherwise we’ll just become a sterile corporate sports complex, and then where’s our mojo?

Allan Crawford

Canadian Snowmobile Adventures

Whistler

 

Better uses for land

Does anyone think for a moment that another council (such as the city of Vancouver) would take one of the last pieces of downtown real estate and build a hockey rink on it that would be used for a week in the year 2010, then go on to host midget and beer-league hockey for the rest of its existence?

Give me a break. If Whistler were to obtain a National Hockey League franchise, perhaps. But to take what is arguably the best available piece of vacant land in the village (lots 1 and 9) and use them for an arena is absurd.

I can think of a dozen better uses, including a future hospital where a Whistler mother could give birth to a child, or an aging senior could have his or her gallbladder removed. I won't even mention the need for emergency hospital service in the event of an Olympic crisis. Has there ever been an Olympics slated in a city without a hospital?

Would Vancouver even dream of removing St. Paul's Hospital or VGH from the downtown core in favor of a sledge hockey rink?

I see nothing wrong with the option to accept $8 million for a second ice surface and Paralympic practice facility at Meadow Park, $4 million for an upgraded athlete's centre in Cheakamus South and allowing the remaining $8 million to go to Squamish for the Olympic venue. This way everybody wins.

And we certainly don't need a pie-in-the-sky overpass, combination arena, shopping facility and condo complex. The overcrowded retail section is slaving away just to pay the landlord and PST after four seasons of declining business. Room rentals have decreased 19 per cent.

I am glad council made the decision to "take the money and run" but is it running in the right direction and going to kick this political football through the wrong goalposts? Is council wise enough to immediately get a letter of commitment from VANOC for disbursement of $20 million? Let's get it now.

Then, we still have five years before lighting the torch. Common sense and a referendum on how the $20 million will be distributed are required.

Allan Eaton

Whistler

 

A reading kind of town

Once again, Whistler proved itself to be a reading kind of a town. The Used Book Sale held on the Thanksgiving weekend raised $3,000, which will be split between the school libraries at Spring Creek and Whistler Secondary. Several boxes of excellent children's books were also set aside and will go to the Head of The Lake School in Skatin, near Skookumchuk.

Thanks go out to all those businesses who helped make the sale happen: Nesters Market, TD Canada Trust, and the public library for being collection depots, the Whistler Question and Pique Newsmagazine for publicizing the sale, and of course IGA Marketplace for allowing the sale to take place in front of the store. This event could not happen without your support!

A big thank you also goes out to all the volunteers who helped sort, carry, transport, and man the sale: Jamie and Janet Collins, Lil Goldsmid, Alison Hunter, Libby McKeever, Stephanie Murray, Mo Richmond, Gary and Verity Pringle, Rick Reid, Kris Shoup, Leslee Wake and Bruce Watt.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to all those who generously donated all those wonderful books, and to those who came, perused, and bought at the sale. Until next time, happy reading!

Jane Reid, organizer

Whistler

 

Thanks to Andrée & Chris

What a sad state of affairs! With our teachers on the picket lines and education in this province on the front page of every paper it took an extension of the deadline for Whistler to find a second person willing to stand for School Trustee in District #48.

Some years ago there was a major push to expand Whistler’s representation on the School Board to two Trustees. We now have that privilege and are hard pressed to find individuals to fill the positions. In case you didn’t notice Andrée Janyk, the incumbent, and Chris Vernon-Jarvis were both acclaimed while there are seven candidates for mayor and 17 for council!

We have three public schools in Whistler with hundreds of children requiring an education, so where are the candidates? Is education not an issue in Whistler? Is the future of our young people not of interest or concern? As a parent I was as involved as I could be. I am a past trustee and know how important it is to be at the table and have a say in what happens not only in our district but in the province. Bargaining is not done at the district level anymore and a full understanding of the factors that go towards how our schools are structured and the financial implications on class size and composition are important if we are to continue to have a passing grade.

Good public education is an amazing gift that we cannot ignore, so start to think of how you can get involved. Start by going to your school PAC meetings and see the difference that being involved in your child’s education can make. And next election let’s see some candidates who are passionate about education run for school trustee positions and make an election of it.

Alix Nicoll

Whistler

 

Special needs students overlooked

RE: Don Brett’s article on the facts of the teachers strike.

Thank you to all teachers that took a stand to improve our children’s education for a better tomorrow. It is very frustrating for parents and teachers that last week’s issue did not list the facts on special needs students in relevance to class sizes in any way and the fact that the district has imposed through budget cuts insufficient allocation of funds to assist in special needs.

A garden full of roses to all the teachers at Spring Creek for your efforts and gains in preventing my sons from falling through the cracks created by the very foundation imposed by the government’s education lack of budgeting for special needs.

Iona Lake

Whistler

Community loses voice

This letter was addressed to Greg Newton, chair of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce board of directors. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

I am writing to express a profound disappointment in the decision by the Chamber to eliminate the traditional public microphone questions from the all candidates meeting that you are sponsoring. We believe that the community has highlighted communication between the public and their elected officials as an important issue in this election.

An extremely important part of communication is listening, and not just speaking. Elimination of the public microphone portion of the all candidates meeting deprives the community of a very useful and important opportunity to influence the political agenda of this election. The lack of public questions allows the candidates to choose and speak only about topics that they are comfortable with. At the same time, it deprives the public of an opportunity to get answers to issues that the candidates are not comfortable with and may wish to avoid talking about. Prepared position speeches can already be found on web sites or in promotional material.

We are requesting that your Board of Directors review the format and consider allowing questions from a public microphone.

Stephen L. Milstein, Campaign Manager

Campaign to Elect Melamed Mayor

Catch the Spirit

RE: The Whistler Spirit — A Chamber Program!

This letter to the editor is intended to clarify a statement made in an interview between assistant editor Andrew Mitchell, and mayoral candidate, Brian Walker, in the Oct. 13 th issue of Pique Newsmagazine.

Although the article mentioned that the Spirit Program was "offered by Tourism Whistler," it is important to clarify (especially as we begin to roll out the Spirit Program) that this program is, and always has been, a program initiated, and managed by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

The program, now in its 18 th year, began with the Whistler Chamber leading the local business community in identifying the need for all employees, resort-wide, to be trained in the basics of customer service, and general resort awareness, and what that would provide for the guests of the resort.

It didn’t take long for the business community to agree that the training was critical for Whistler’s long term success. Whistler-Blackcomb offered up a special pass at a reduced rate (Spirit Pass / formerly called the Ambassador Pass) to recognize this workforce for their commitment to this training, and the Spirit Program was born!

This year, the qualifying options are the most dynamic yet, and the Whistler Chamber expects over 3,000 Whistler employees/employers to go through the Spirit Program – demonstrating their commitment to consistently deliver customer service excellence to each and every guest.

"Catch the Spirit" - Check out www.whistlerchamber.com for more information.

Bernie Lalor Morton

Whistler Chamber of Commerce

No epiphany at Dialoge Cafe

I did not bring "the issue of the local economy and the business community’s concerns about losing the arena to council after attending the June Dialogue Café on London Drugs and the retail sector" as you said in your editorial October 20.

The truth is, after attending the July 7 Dialogue Café on "Retail, Values and Whistler. What’s for Sale?" I left the meeting with two strong impressions, as I shared with your reporter Alison Taylor at the time. One was a reinforcement of my thoughts about London Drugs. The other, even more powerful, was a clear understanding that council and senior staff had completely underestimated the passion that many people in the community held for the arena.

I left this forum determined to interject an opportunity for community engagement, so that council and staff could experience and understand this. I decided to try to ensure there was a gap between the long (and impatiently) awaited arena report scheduled for Aug. 15 and the final decision. I saw clearly that we needed an opportunity for community input before we made our decision and I wanted a public open house in that gap. I felt strongly that witnessing the passion would profoundly affect the process and the outcome. I felt at the time it may have to go to a referendum.

At the very next council meeting, July 17, I proposed the idea of this gap in the morning session, without sufficient support. That evening I saw a better opportunity after Chris Quinlan and Bob Lorriman spoke about the arena at the opening Q & A period. Mayor O’Reilly confirmed that community engagement was not planned ("Trust us"). After the topic came around again in correspondence, I made the motion to commit to the above strategy, seconded by Councillor Lamont. The motion passed 5 to 2 (note: at the same meeting Councillor Wade succeeded in her motion to open the afternoon workshop sessions to the public. It was a good night for openness and community engagement).

The arena motion led to the very well attended open house, the deadline extension, the second open house and the subsequent unanimous decision on Oct. 17. This is the way it played out. The lessons learned on July 7 bore out.

Is this a model of good community engagement or public planning? No. However, this process clearly demonstrated the ongoing will of some in council for change in this regard. For better or for worse, change is guaranteed now. With the upcoming election, the nature of this change is in the hands of the community.

The way this matter unfolded had nothing to do with "bringing the issue of the local economy… to council". I have been stressing my concerns regarding the health of our economy consistently for all three years of this term, and based my actions accordingly. My understanding comes from 20 years on the front lines. I did not get my epiphany from the Community Monitoring Report, or any dialogue cafe.

This issue is also typical of part of my own style of community engagement, and my actions are often affected in this manner. I try hard to attend public forums on "hot button" issues. I understand that we cannot rely solely on staff, or the input of our circle of friends, for our understanding of complex community issues. For examples, I was the sole elected official in attendance at the 2005 Budget open house, the Whistler Forum for Dialogue on Unions, the Holborn presentation to the Tennis Club, the 5,000 sq. ft. Bylaw open house and, as mentioned, the dialogue café on retail.

Gordon McKeever

Whistler

 

A tasty decision

The Alta Lake School would like to thank all of the generous Whistler and Pemberton businesses who helped make this year’s Harvest Soup Contest the most successful ever! With entries such as Roasted Sugar Pumpkin with Truffled Chanterelles from the Four Seasons Resort, Tuscan White Bean with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Ham from the Big Smoke Mountain BBQ, and Celtic Roasted Root Vegetable from the Dubh Linn Gate, the decision was a hard but tasty one to make! All of the soups were so incredible, but ultimately the majority of the 450 plus soup tasters placed Roundhouse Lodge’s West Coast Seafood Chowder as the "Best Soup In Whistler".

Also we would like to thank the Marketplace IGA for supplying the fresh rolls, Slopeside Supply for the bowls and sample cups, The Whistler Farmer’s Market crew for setting up the tents and tables and Mother Nature for providing the cool but dry fall weather which helped make the soups taste even better!

Thank you to everyone who came out and sampled the soups! We will see you next year!

Peggy Vogler

The Alta Lake School

 

Keeping Whistler cool

We would like to send out a huge thank you to all 828 participants from 83 different businesses that made the 4 th Annual Whistler Way Commuter Challenge a huge success once again.

To all those who volunteered to co-ordinate the Challenge at their workplace, your effort and commitment was what made this event happen again this year. To those volunteers who helped out at our numerous side-events, your enthusiasm made the entire two weeks so much fun. Also thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers, we couldn’t have done it without you… especially Whistler-Blackcomb for donating the grand prize of a season’s pass, Meadow Park Sports Centre for the annual family pass and the RMOW for the year pass on WAVE buses. Also a big thank you goes to the federal One-Tonne Challenge program, which co-ordinated the entire event and donated the new grand prize Marin Mountain Bike.

Special thanks to the Pique for keeping the community updated on the progress of the Challenge, for participating in the "How Slow Can You Go?" race, and to the Pique’s Aimee Larivee for feeding so many hungry commuters at the Pique Newsmagazine Bus Buffet.

The goal of the challenge was to make people aware of their transportation choices and their impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Once again, the fact that so many participants commented on how easy and convenient it was to walk, bike, bus, carpool, etc. really goes to show that traveling around sustainably in the corridor simply is the Whistler Way. For full results, check out www.whistler.ca/otc.

You all rule in keeping Whistler cool!

Marc Zurbuchen, Rina Bowen, and Emma DalSanto

2005 Commuter Challenge Co-ordinators

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