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Letters to the Editor

Free bus rides, suburban design breeds fatties, Pemberton's commute,
more on muni hall, elbowing the minor hockey folks, front line tips

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Sustainable ideas for making transit work

“Buses should be free,” is quite a common thing you hear these days at bus stops or on the bus. Let’s face it, there are not enough buses going to lots of places in Whistler, like Spruce Grove or the west side road.

The other problem is that buses cost too much. For my family to go to the village and watch a movie the bus alone costs $11. That’s outrageous. It’s cheaper to drive the car.

A solution for this problem would be to make all the parking in the village pay parking, and to make the day skier lots cost money. Then this money could go towards new buses, free transit or just cheaper fares. This would also be the next step in our 2020 sustainability program. The village shuttle is a good example of how much more the buses would get used, because whenever I see a village shuttle it’s normally at least half full.

Thanks for considering this issue.

Bobby Bunbury

Whistler

 

Suburban sprawl continues

There have been a few issues that continue to reappear in the newspaper that I would like to comment on and draw links between:

1. The B.C. government’s response to obesity.

2. The increasing pressures on public transit.

3. The pressures on Whistler’s housing.

In all the discussion about Canadian/B.C. obesity, nowhere have I seen even a mention of what I consider to be the biggest cause/obstacle to obesity: Suburban city design. For a simple definition of “suburban” development I propose: pretty much anywhere outside of say 750 metres of a supermarket requires one to drive or take public transit. More than 50 per cent of trips by car are less than one kilometre. One must also drive or take transit if they live further than walking distance from their jobs. Whistler was pretty good at creating compact liveable spaces.

But now Whistler has the suburb of Pemberton. In addition to its role as a suburb of Whistler, Squamish will, thanks to the millions in highway upgrades, soon be closer to downtown Vancouver than Langley. Neither town is anywhere close to having the requisite number of jobs to support the number of beds available. These are bedroom communities. Their residents must commute, likely by car, or retire. The bus will pick up the slack for those too poor to operate their own cars. Therefore the pressures on public transit are also a result of our devotion to the North American suburban ideal.

Finally, because of our devotion to market capitalism, Whistler is a high-stakes casino for those fortunate enough to be able to afford the ante, or to have gotten in early. For the rest of us, we’re forced to pay exorbitant rents. We pay high rents so that others may see a nice return on their real estate. While many mansions and condos sit vacant most of the winter, the Resort Municipality of Whistler plans for further suburban subdivisions, partially intended to house employees. Not one of the planned developments is within walking distance to a ski lift, a supermarket, or jobs — more Spring Creek anyone? But the poor will still ride the bus, which will come once every half hour, at best.

Does it make sense to build more developments that inherently, by virtue of their design, encourage people to be fat and use their cars? Does it make sense to continue developments that put increasing pressures on public transit? Lastly, do we NEED to build any new beds when so much of the housing supply is consumed as investments? If investments matter more than housing people, then I guess so.

But hey, let’s face it; would any of the property owners/voters of Whistler really like to see things unfolding any other way? I don’t understand why they would. It appears that real estate “values” are what matter most in this “community” of Whistler.

Brendan Ladner

Whistler

 

Quit complaining

I read a letter to the editor in Pique this week about leaving Whistler because there is no accommodation and all the hostels are full.

This summer I opened a hostel in my home in Pemberton. We have had a good response but 75 per cent of the people who call do not want to come to Pemberton.

Pemberton is a good stop until you find what you want. There are buses and you can find people to commute with if you really want to stay in Whistler.

We have had many people who cannot pay by credit card in advance say they are coming on the bus but never show up. Our hostel has not been full, or even close to full.

It is not fancy but it is warm and has all the facilities a person requires, at a low price. Quit complaining and put the effort out to make it happen.

Hollie Davis

Holly Park Hostel

Pemberton

 

Some modest suggestions

Today on the mountain it is very windy. I hung my boards up early, and have a few moments now to put my thoughts to print.

It appears your council servants are in a dilemma trying to figure out what to do about their own housing situation. Of course I’m referring to the need of a better municipal hall. I finally concur with today’s council: a change is always nice. You could imagine the service one could expect if a renovation ever took place, not the answer. Hey that old restaurant owes us nothing, and it could be the humane thing to put her down.

But hear me out. Your civil workers are operating out of one of the most desirable commercial locations in the entire valley. This is a prime-plus corner and deserves a far better future than another muni hall. Time to sell ’er boys and move elsewhere. This is a great solution, and should cost the tax payers squat. The lot alone should fetch an easy bzilllion.

But where to go, they all ask?

Across the street the dog barks. Right where you guys floundered over a rink. Close by, right? An obvious choice for the public to make: build a new home, with the same approximate footprint and using as much concrete and steel as possible inside and out, giving the structure longevity and low maintenance. Build with today’s and tomorrows needs in mind, with a simple roof design that accommodates proper shedding and feeds a cistern, which would look after most grey water. Build five or so floors of under ground parking and charge whatever. Weekends are always busy in Whistler, except at muni hall.

Build a nice green area around the perimeter and don’t forget to leave some service tie-in locations for future use. You might look beyond 2020. Maybe include a small outdoor rink.

You could also include the fire guys. Response time would be identical or even better, and quieter. And this important department will definitely grow.

As for the police and bylaw department, they spend, or should be spending, the time patrolling community ether on foot or by vehicle. Who really cares where they house the criminals or do their paperwork? You could move them to Cheakamus Road and work out a deal with the future developer for a kiosk when they make the purchase on the lot.

This whole deal could be put together by spring if council doesn’t drag their feet. It could be easily completed by 2008.

You, I, and everyone knows how easy it is to spend our hard earned cash on some joker consulting firm, so don’t. Hire a grad designer with a computer to generate some drawings and an engineer to check off the blanks. This small but effective team should spend a week in the old building with the staff. They could acquire some real time info of their needs.

Let’s be practical here, by hiring some shmancy architect you will end up with gigantic foyers and waterfalls and a mayor’s office too big.  I would stop by Myrtle Philip and consult the students on which direction they would take. After all, they are going to inherit all and might like a little something-somethin.

So go ahead council, slam that gavel down faster than a 100 per cent pay hike. We’re all ears.

Dave Houghton

Whistler

 

December 09, 2006

A ‘thank you’ would be appreciated

Dear Events Whistler board of directors;

I just finished reading your letter to Pique Newsmagazine regarding the NBC Korbel Elite Curling Challenge and the “thanks to everyone” list. It appears that you have forgotten to thank a very large segment of our community, the members, parents and local volunteers of both the Whistler Minor Hockey Association, the Whistler Skating Club and the Adult Hockey League.

These local recreational groups, who pay large rental fees to use the Meadow Park Rink, were never consulted prior to this decision by RMOW, Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb. We were just informed that our ice time had been deleted from our very tight schedule for five full days in November, just when figure skating lessons and hockey games are well underway. Why couldn’t this curling event have been filmed in the summer months when it wouldn’t have caused such an upheaval for our skating community?

Whistler Minor Hockey team managers are still struggling to re-schedule games with Lower Mainland teams that are a direct result of these cancelled ice times. I’m sure that the men’s and women’s teams have had the same problem, as finding extra ice time in Whistler is difficult and some of our teams have had to use their practice times for games and double up with other teams for their practices.

We have also had to look at booking replacement ice times at Lower Mainland rinks, but due to the closure of the UBC rink there isn’t much space open except at 11 p.m. midweek. That means dealing with road closures and we don’t want our kids getting back from hockey games at 3 a.m. when they have school the next day.

Perhaps if you are possibly thinking about booking another similar curling event you could consult with the local community first. Also, how about using Squamish’s Curling Rink and make the “viewers in the U.S.” aware of other communities in our Sea to Sky corridor and “contribute to one of the most significant 2010 legacies — building tourism” throughout this region, not just in Whistler Resort.

And a “Thank you” would be greatly appreciated too!

Kathy Macalister

Registrar

Whistler Minor Hockey Association

 

It’s about sharing

As we welcome the winter season and ramp up our staffing effort for the anticipation of record-breaking skier visits, it is time that all of us who live in Whistler should rethink the meaning of “tourism”. Tourism has been the heart and lifeblood of our economy since our creation, so if tourism is about customer service then we should become better and better in delivering it.

I believe as a community, we have done everything we could to train our frontline staff in this aspect. We all know that our reputation as the No. 1 ski resort in North America will depend on how these new recruits and young people do their jobs and how well they service our guests. We surely hope that they have learned everything about customer service before the season starts, but have we communicated to them how to be a real Tourism Pro? How to become a true Ambassador of Whistler’s businesses or our community overall? How to persuade our guests to come back? More importantly, how to make somebody’s vacation a memorable one?

No doubt we taught our frontline staff everything they need to know about how to refer guests to restaurants/spas/activities around town, some local tips and a little bit of history about Whistler. But, one thing I notice is that we haven’t really explored/discussed much is the value of telling stories about our own individual journeys, about where we are from and how we ended up in Whistler. Our visitors know that we all come from other places to work and live in this place; that the majority of the people who live and work here were not born here. Therefore, the majority of the people here must have their own journey worth telling to others, including what they learned along the way. To really enjoy this job, we all need to be good storytellers, because we are all tourists in a tourist town.

Tourism is not only about visiting places but also about discovering new things and learning new cultures. This is one of the oldest industries man ever created. In fact, it is probably as old as our civilization itself.

Unfortunately, it is still a luxury pursuit for most people around the world, especially those in developing countries. Nonetheless mankind is always intrigued by other cultures, traditions, languages and ways of life. It is what makes our life interesting.

So if I may suggest something to our front line staff: Do not be afraid to tell the story of your own journey to our visitors. And more importantly, listen to their story. Just like them, we all come here to learn new cultures, discover new things in life and make new friends. By sharing stories, with attentiveness and sincerity, you will make their vacation memorable. By doing that, you are also doing a big favor to our industry and this new home of yours.

It is not how many people you served in one day that really matters, it is about how many people you touched in one day.

Welcome to Whistler.

Jay Wahono

Whistler