In last week’s Pique, Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob stated that: “For us, getting the opportunity to reinstate ourselves back in the Whistler valley is a pretty important thing for us.”
I spent 25 years digging holes in Whistler. And some of these were big holes… when underground parking lots are mandated, you have an awful lot of dirt to move. We dug them in the valley bottom, we dug them on the lakeshores, on the benches and all the way up to both peaks. I think it is fair to say that no other small valley in Canada has been subjected to such intense excavation over a 35-year period.
Yet in all that time the only culturally significant artifact that has ever been found is a 1947 Ford by noted “archeologist” Gene Therrien at the Fairways Hotel site. If First Nations did roam the Whistler valley in the distant past, they must have been the very first users of “no trace” camping techniques.
Lot 1/9 plans rash
Some thoughts I have on the proposed clearing of Lots 1/9 in the village.
There are serious questions regarding the funding of this project. At the moment, $5,000,000 of the $11,204,000 total Phase I budget, or approximately 45 per cent, is dependent on a grant from the Federal Live Sites Program. While the grant application was “well received”, there is still no firm commitment for this funding. The construction of the “Iconic Pavilion” is not included in the $11,204,000 Phase I budget, and the RMOW has not secured any independent funding for it.
The RMOW’s share of the Phase I budget, $3,204,000, will come from the hotel tax. I find this personally alarming, as Whistler’s major market, the United States, is currently in an economic recession that seems to be just gaining speed. Spending this kind of money at this time seems economically irresponsible.
The other thing that is unclear is who is going to be responsible for any cost overruns on this project. Since the other two proposed partners, the federal Live Sites Program and VANOC, are providing fixed amounts, I would assume that onus to fall on the RMOW. Two recent RMOW projects, the library and the roof over the Nesters compactor site, both suffered more than 50 per cent cost increases from their initial budgets.
The plans for the project are not expected to be completed before the summer. How a final budget for a project can be made before the plans for the same project are complete is beyond me. Cost overruns for both the library and Millennium Place came in part from design changes during the construction of those projects.