Although I do not often do so, I agree entirely with the statements made in the Maxed Out column this week (The brainstorming continues, Sept. 23). In particular, as a landowner, I grow increasingly concerned about rising Whistler property taxes, which seem, like a castle ghost, to predictably rise and scare the hell out of all who actually witness the event.
The problem with many incumbent councils is that they eventually run out of other people's money to spend. As Mr. Maxwell points out, having a laudable community vision is one thing, whereas having an "affordable" community vision may well be another thing.
I wonder how many Whistlerites have enjoyed salary increases which meet or exceed the percentage increases in property taxes we have seen these past couple of years.
In our personal lives, where we have no ability to pick a neighbour's pocket, we are actually forced to make choices and live within our allotted income. To adapt a quote by Ronald Reagan, a Whistler taxpayer could be defined as "a person who works for the municipality but doesn't have to take the employment exam."
The challenge should be taken up by council and administration to produce an annual budget for community review which contains increases no higher than the annual Canadian Consumer Price Index. While citizens ultimately may or may not like what must be done to reach such a financial target, at least it would give everyone a chance to assess it, propose alternate ways to save and decide what are core deliverables in Whistler and what are "nice to haves."
This would also require an assessment of user fees to better understand what activities Whistlerites are currently subsidizing and to what extent they are doing so.
Whistler's last stands
Why the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) has the word "Community" in it is beyond me. The Whistler community was never consulted when the decision by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the two First Nations groups and the B.C. government was made to strip our forests of 250- to 1,000-year-old trees for the next 25 years. If these living, breathing, majestic ancient trees were instead a mere 100-plus-year-old homes or building structures, the local and regional historical societies would be registering, restoring and protecting them for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. These societies may even turn a few of them into museums in order to share their architectural history and provide tours to schools and tour groups. Heck, the owners might even get a tax break.
The trees that are slated to be harvested started to grow in medieval times; the Middle Ages. These trees in our backyard are older than many of the European cathedrals that are so cherished and protected. The Notre Dame Cathedral is a world heritage sight that was completed in 1345. There are trees in our own backyard that are older than that.