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Letters to the Editor

You can't have both


You can’t have both

RE: Barnfield residents challenge price restriction covenant (Pique Dec. 1)

Three cheers for Jim Budge and his integrity!

The Barnfield lawsuit is an insult to all of us, and doubly so to all the people who worked so hard over the years to make this type of housing possible in the first place.

Everybody who purchased there knew up front about the price cap. If they wanted to speculate in the real estate market, they should have bought in the open market.

I suggest RMOW buy back the plaintiffs’ lots at the original selling price, plus agreed upon appreciation, minus any and all costs this action precipitates for us taxpayers. Then give the owners 30 days to remove their houses, and the people next in line on the waiting list move up and are invited to purchase these lots.

Starting with MDC, too many price-restricted properties have fallen through the cracks. We have seen people enter the real estate market through the back door, then sell on the open market, and exit through the front door, laughing all the way to the bank. This makes a mockery of the whole process and years of work.

If this lawsuit succeeds, there is no point in wasting further efforts on the housing front. In this case, I expect RMOW to have these houses appraised at free market value, at the owner's expense, and a free market property tax bill retroactive to the date of purchase plus accrued interest to be presented to the plaintiffs. Furthermore, an additional bill for the price difference between purchase price and that of the average lot price of the day on the open market when the lots were originally sold should be added, plus interest.

Little consolation for those on the waiting list, seeing their hopes of owning a home here evaporate, thanks to the Barnfield litigants. You can have your cake-or eat it. Not both.

Hans Kögler






Barnfield suit outrageous

RE: Barnfield residents

I can't believe you greedy ingrates.

You buy in knowing full well up front that the values of your properties will be price restricted. You get a lot in Whistler for cheap. You build a house to the maximum possible envelope. You pay taxes based on those lower values. And now you want your properties to be open to full market value?!

To the muni: All the way to the Supreme Court if need be. Or use that deal with the B.C. government that put a halt to the Nita Lake NIMBY.

Or perhaps a solution could be: whatever the full market value of the lots could've been in 1997... demand that cash (minus the 78K) from the current owners (except the ones that aren't suing) up front right now. Not at the time of selling. Then B.C. Assessment can re-assess with full market value in mind and then demand all the years of higher taxes that the muni didn't collect up front right now. Then finally the GST/PST and property purchase taxes that could've been remitted based on the higher values paid up front right now. And whatever other benefits of lower values these people got at the time. Plus interest on all of the above.

Either that or expropriate the properties and pay the current owners the current price restricted value and then resell the properties at the same price to grateful and patient Whistlerites on the WHA list who would like to have a nice house in Whistler to live in (if they can afford it).

On receipt of those monies then you can get your covenant removed. You just might still make some money on the deal but at least it would be fair.

That way the property would be on a level playing field with other open market property owners in Whistler.

It's simply completely unfair that those owners that bought open market property find that these properties, that started out at a much lower than market value starting point, are suddenly worth market value.

It seems when it comes to greed, fairness and justice don't exist.

I hope Mr. MacIntosh and his firm charge you a fortune so that when you lose you can lose that fortune, and I think you should pay the muni's legal costs as well.

Mark Tener





Housing Kudos

For a change I would like to applaud the RMOW for their forward thinking with regard to their non-cost initiatives for infill housing. Finally a simple idea that creates extra housing without additional infrastructure. This could be a win-win. I just hope the NIMBYS don't ruin any proposals.

I also hope the muni puts up a good fight against the Barnfield residents’ price restriction covenants court case. The residents chose to buy and build under those restrictions; changing the rules now sets a dangerous precedent and defeats the whole purpose of trying to create and maintain affordable housing.

I would also like to thank Raymond Rousseau for doing the math in his letter last week that exposes affordable housing in Whistler as a myth even for substantial income earners. This reinforces the need to re-evaluate the system and protect the existing housing stock.

Mike Roger




Flexibility part of affordability

I am writing in response to Raymond Rousseau’s assessment of affordability in Whistler. I am one of the lucky owners of the 10 lots mentioned in Spruce Grove. By the way, the price of the lot was $120,000 + GST.

Mr. Rousseau is pretty close in his estimate of resale prices for our homes, as two have sold for prices close to $500,000. And he is also quite right that a chartered bank would not finance a purchaser unless their income was close to $100,000.

Where he missed the mark is that a chartered bank is not our only option. We are very fortunate to have the North Shore Credit Union, which is more flexible in the way they recognize rental income in Whistler properties.

Using the same assumptions that Mr. Rousseau uses, someone with $100,000 saved who needed to finance $400,000 would only need a family income of around $40,000 if they had a legal suite that rented for $1,000 per month. The critical part of this equation of course is having $100,000 saved.

When I built my house, I was a single mother. My savings combined with my parents' contribution was considerably short of the 25 per cent down payment. I got creative and lucky and pulled it off completely on my own. (My parents let me put a mortgage on their house for the rest of the down payment which I was responsible for.) If I managed it, so could many others.

Bea Gonzalez


Let’s hear from people

I would like to respond to Karen Tamaki’s letter to our mayor-elect, which appeared in your paper last week. Let me take you back to the eve of the election. Ken Melamed was attending the annual Patrol Pro Night, Karen and I were also there. The three of us had a conversation; Karen told Kenny that she thought continuing to work as a patroller could be seen as a conflict of interest if he was elected. I put my two cents in and said that at the very least working one day a week as a patroller would be a stress buster. Kenny thought that it would maintain his connection to both workers and tourists.

Ken thought Karen’s concern was valid and in the first interview he granted after his election, he put the question out to his electorate. Just to remind your readers Ken’s integrity is such that he would ask the question and stick to the response – no matter the effect on his family. He does not denigrate the wage he receives, patrolling has fed his family. In our industry we are paid fairly, nevertheless it is challenging to support a family of four. Karen suggested becoming a volunteer patroller. As a patroller myself, I understand why Ken wants to stay a Pro – we throw bombs, volunteers don’t. What can I say? It is the best job in Whistler – next to mayor. It is Ken’s lifelong profession and perhaps he would like to return to it when he leaves politics.

Karen points out in her letter that Ken would only be available four out of the five days of full operation of municipal hall; the mayor operates 24/7. The hours and money spent on the campaign aside, Ken has been working at mayoral duties, meetings and on plans since he was elected without pay – he isn’t on the payroll as mayor until he is sworn in. If Ken works one day a week as a patroller it doesn’t mean that he will work four days a week as mayor instead of five. No, he will work six days a week instead of seven and still work nights! None of the other mayors have had to give up their businesses or professions, nor have they offered!

Optics can be everything; however, unlike a salaried employee an hourly employee’s compensation is pretty transparent. Ken is a worker – and a damn fine patroller. The irony of this situation does not escape me – as a candidate Ken was accused of a lack of sympathy to business and now he is accused of potential collusion! You can be assured that Intrawest is not going to be offering Ken Melamed a timeshare sales job in Hawaii anytime soon. It really isn’t Kenny’s style anyway, he’d much rather save lives, cheat death and throw bombs – I, for one, hope that he continues to do so.

Let’s hear from people – what do you think? Kenny wants to know.

Cathy Jewett,

Professional Ski Patroller


Setting the record straight

In response to G.D. Maxwell's column last week, I feel I must set the record straight. We have not just received a big rent increase, we have been dealing with annually increasing rent, therefore making the rent to sales ratio go up dramatically over the past few years.

In fairness our landlords have been supportive over the past couple of years and helpful in finding solutions. We found it necessary to move our tuning shop to our new location in Creekside to reduce our costs of doing business.

G.D. is right its very hard to give the service and pricing people expect when our rent percentage is four times the national average and labour is 50 per cent higher than the average in specialty shops, not to mention the shipping costs, but we do enjoy our business and we love Whistler.

What we really need is to address the housing issue with cheaper rooms for seasonal workers, affordable suites for our full time people and townhouses or something similar for the people who want to stay in Whistler and learn about our business.

We are at the doorstep of an exciting new season with great new gear on board and invite all of our fabulous customers and new seasonal visitors to visit us at Nesters, the Village and Creekside. We strive to provide the level of service our guests expect at Wild Willies Ski Shops.

Bill Lamond

Wild Willies


A piece of the pie

I am a counsellor in private practice in Whistler and a co-facilitator of an Eating Disorder Support Group for women in Whistler, offered through WCSS. I am writing in response to "Fat Camp" and Cat Smiley’s letter to the editor in the Dec. 1 Pique.

I have been working in the field of eating disorders for the past six years and have had the honour of being witness to the personal stories of women who live daily with disordered eating issues. Beneath the outer skin and layers of fat therein lies a story, interwoven into a tapestry that can contain self-hatred, grief, depression, anxiety, loneliness, abuse, unhealthy relationships, suicide, starvation and death.

The physical and medical concerns of obesity are indeed true and valid. However, it is only when we view compulsive eating in a holistic perspective encompassing the physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of ourselves, that long term healing can occur. Our physical bodies and what we consume is but the tip of the iceberg.

We know now that prevention is paramount in reducing the devastation caused in our society today by eating disorders (anorexia nervosa is the number one killer amongst mental health disorders in North America). We know now the risk factors for disordered eating include a number of factors related to family disconnection, dysfunction or conflict, as well as specific factors related to unhealthy family eating and weight concerns. We also know now that there are protective factors that decrease the likelihood of mental health problems and thus, may guard against the development of disordered eating. Some of these protective factors include: high self-esteem, self-respect, confidence, having contact with one’s own feelings, healthy stress management, coping, problem-solving skills, assertiveness, supportive relationships, positive body image, family stability and cohesiveness, an understanding of normal nutrition, healthy athletic involvement, cultural and spiritual identity, etc.

When we are able to listen with compassion, love and support to the reasons why people chose overeating as an unhealthy coping strategy in dealing with their pain, we are able to make a difference in their lives. When we are able to look beyond the "fat" only then can we truly see what is underneath and empower people along their path of self-discovery and healing. Exercising with guidance in a healthy, supportive environment is but one piece of the pie.

Sheila Sherkat


A trick dressed up as a trade

RE: Ledcor and The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board meeting last week

There has been a two year public process which ended when the SLRD said no to the Ledcor re-zoning application to create a hydro electric plant on the Ashlu and apparently the provincial government is acting as Ledcor’s agent as they sent a letter to the SLRD board.

A report from the SLRD manager of planning was tabled and discussed. The report said there had been a few meetings with the provincial government and First Nations and the SLRD chair and planner and they knew of an offer coming from the province to exchange a promise of protection of 11 rivers for the Ledcor Ashlu power project.

The board received a letter from the deputy minister of Energy Mines and Resources. It read like an extortion attempt. The province is acting as an advocate for Ledcor who weeps for the money the Ashlu could generate. Buying zoning is illegal.

If another application from Ledcor materializes then the board can bring forward a motion to reconsider and deal with it there and not test the resolve of the people again and again.

The provincial government is acting under pretense of some public interest, like clean renewable energy for B.C. Private companies are getting licences on our surface water resources like a gold rush and that cannot be good public policy. Ledcor’s name (or ones they are using) pops up all over the map for these private power deals. Few know the real extent of loss of rivers in the process of being captured for private bank accounts. The Sea to Sky corridor has a bunch in operation and 64 licences in process, while the rest of the province has over 400 projects in motion. Those are simply huge numbers without a provincial plan, as a plan doesn’t suit the purposes of the developers. Remember the Ashlu is only one river saved from development and there are hundreds on the go.

The last time we saw Ledcor they were with Gordon Campbell, at his meetings and alongside him and Environment Minister Barry Penner during the recent provincial election campaign. This is starting to look like the Premier wants to give an enormous gift of wealth to a supporter and we are in the way. The province’s letter, which purports to be a trade, is a trick carefully designed to look like a trade. The offer to exchange something of value, the Ashlu, for a promise to keep other small and less desirable waterways free of power lines, dams and noisy turbines until they change their minds isn’t respectful of the public due process which this region has completed.

Tom Rankin

Squamish Valley


After reading your feature "Setting our Sights" (Dec. 1 2005) by Shelley Arnusch, I was convinced to give the Whistler Film Festival a try. Quotes of Bill Evans made me think that the festival would be free of the red carpet crap that ruins many small film festivals. Telluride was even mentioned and I thought perhaps the Whistler fest would be an attempt at an egalitarian affair.

So I shelled out $54 for two tickets to see the opening night screening of C.R.A.Z.Y. Upon arriving at the conference centre, the first thing I saw was a Mercedes Benz parked in the plaza and roped off. It would be emblematic of the rest of the evening.

Before my date and I reached the door we were rushed by a volunteer demanding to know if we were there for the reception or the screening. Once it was established we had screening tickets we were directed around the building and down the stairs to a side entrance and a waiting area. We had arrived early in order to get good seats and so far, no harm done, we waited for the doors to open.

When they did, we walked up the stairs to the theatre area and went to find seats. But more volunteers accosted us and informed us the first 12 rows were reserved for the people in the reception. The seats remained empty until moments before showtime when the reception guests sauntered in, cocktails in hand and proceeded to shmooze amongst themselves. Volunteers dutifully checked for a blue wrist band before letting them pass into the first 12 rows. It was everything the article claimed it was not going to be. I felt cheated and humiliated and I won't be back.

Reed Hortie



Wrong cultural icon

Just read the current issue and noticed that someone who looks very much like Don McKellar has been identified as Atom Egoyan (pg. 45). Now, both Mr. McKellar and Mr. Egoyan are from Toronto, and both wear glasses with a mussed up hairdo, and both are important members of the Canadian cultural scene. So just curious – is it my poor eyesight, or is that Mr. McKellar gracing your pages?

Andrew Wong

North Vancouver


This is why people love Whistler

I read Pique every week and I feel it would be nice to read something of a positive nature. I discovered today that the old spirit of Whistler, the one of helpfulness and caring, is not dead.

My mother dropped me at work this morning, Tuesday, Dec. 6 th . As she left, I noticed one of the tires on our truck seemed flat. I warned her as she drove off.

Five minutes later she called me for help as the tire had come off of its rim.

I left work and caught a cab in the loop. Shawn from Resort Cabs took me to her. He saw that we (not very technical when it comes to cars) were struggling. He took time out of his shift to change the tire, making sure that the vehicle and the two of us were safe. He did not want money for his time. He was just happy to help us.

I would like people to read this and remember how it used to be here. This is why people love Whistler, and it is the attitude that makes people want to return.

Thank you Shawn,

Katie and Connie Willcocks