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The ironic structure

Every year that there are still some trees growing on the imaginatively named Lot 1/ Lot 9, I have the occasion to write a letter. This one might well be the last.

Despite continually slapping oursleves on the back over how good we are at the game of sustainability, even travelling to communities around the world to share our expertise at living in concert with the laws of nature, we’re planning to cut down every tree on the last 4.5 acres of forested land in the village.

In the same breath that the hired consultant told us at the Oct. 18 th open house that the over-riding community directive for developing Lot1/9 was to maintain a connection to the habitat and nature, and to “preserve some of the context,” (ie: forest), she quickly added that all of the trees would have to be cut down.

One would think that with all of the creativity and expertise in our town we could find a way to build all of the needed community amenities on the property, even the Olympic medals plaza, while keeping some of that natural habitat — perhaps some islands of healthy trees or a corridor of forest connecting Village Park with the spruce forest across from the medical centre. But instead, all of our creativity and enthusiasm seems to have been sucked into the model of the $18 million skating roof that will leave the viewer with, you guessed it, the impression of a West Coast forest.

I’m all for a covered outdoor rink, especially one that you can also play a game of hockey on, but perhaps a post and beam cedar roof surrounded by some real trees (the ones that are probably 90 years old and already growing there) would also achieve the impression of a west coast forest, and with a much lower price tag.

This is the location where we’ll be showing some three billion viewers what we’re all about in 2010. Let’s show them that in the last four decades of rapidly developing this valley, we’ve learned something about building with respect for the natural environment. That was what the community asked for on Lot1/9, not an icon that, beautiful piece of architecture though it is, will attempt to emulate the natural habitat it displaces.

There is the argument that this is just a tiny scrap of forest in a town surrounded by the stuff. The same could be said of Stanley Park in Vancouver, but I don’t see them logging their forested urban park to make room for a medals plaza.

Where the irony of the current plan becomes too much to bear, is with the idea of eventually building a Centre for Sustainability on the property. Artsists’ studios, a cultural centre, a museum, yes, but not a centre for sustainability. I suggest instead a Centre for the Preservation of Common Sense. Who knows, it could catch on worldwide.

Stephen Vogler

Whistler

An incarnation of the Whistler spirit

Re: Clock ticking on Lot 1/9 (Pique, Oct. 25)

For 11 years now, I’ve had an office upstairs in the Whistler Health Care centre, facing the forest on Lot 1/9. Gazing out the window, I’ve often wondered what project could possibly justify removing all those beautiful trees. Finally, someone has come up with a plan that satisfies even a tree-hugger like me.

As for the cost, $34 million may seem expensive. As a reader wrote last week, such a sum of money could buy a lot of medicine for Africans. But, especially with our big federal budget surplus, I think we Canadians are rich enough to afford both increased international aid as well as the odd iconic roof.

To put the cost of the Lot 1/9 proposal in historic perspective, 800 years ago a French community no bigger than Whistler managed to raise the equivalent of $1 billion to build its iconic structure, the Chartres Cathedral. I’m sure they never regretted the creation of an enduring architectural masterpiece.

As a contemporary comparative, our fancy indoor/outodoor skating rink would cost 1/20 th that of the upgrades on Highway 99.

As enthusiastic hosts of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, we are a community dedicated to excellence of achievement. Why not build an incarnation of that spirit? Creating a structure both beautiful and functional is not the most frivolous way to spend money.

Tom DeMarco

Whistler

Another icon?

I was just thinking about the Lot 1/9 presentation and a few things stood out. I am not talking about the design because that is a personal preference kind of thing, more I was thinking iconic representation of my community. We have the mountains, the rain forest, the big “G” (see S. Vogler Icon Gone) W/B’s Peak to Peak and now all those tremendous venues we are building for the Olympics. One more icon seems to be a bit of overkill. I guess if we need an icon why not build a new Arts, Culture, Sustainability, and Heritage Centre. We could use the building as a way to hold up a cantilevered roof with some of the same characteristics as the proposed icon and even if we could not finish the interior prior to 2010 at least we would have a place to store all those banners, products and pieces that would be left over from the Games while we decide what to keep and use for the telling of the Olympic story.

The next point that seems to come out is the long-term maintenance and cost of running the ice surface. With diminishing hotel tax revenues how are we going to keep paying for the operation? I guess we could keep reducing funding to the NGO’s that we support as a community or maybe when the business plan for the legacies society comes out there will be a line item that provides for this kind of operational need, or maybe not. At this point we have not been assured that the venues that we have can be properly funded for operations and maintenance.

Many words have been bandied about the cost of this initiative. Given that this would be ours (the community’s) to fund I am nervous. Almost every project connected to the 2010 program has had significant cost problems. Do we think we can avoid these?

As someone in the construction industry said to me when he hears innovative and cutting edge and it has never been done in this format, it says “be prepared for unplanned costs to be a major factor”. Do we really want to be the agency that puts even more pressure on the over heated construction industry in this area? One spinoff effect would be to bring more highly paid construction workers into the community, putting even more pressure on the housing market which, as we know, is already having problems accommodating the people the existing businesses are looking for.

Although the built environment is important our community is about the outdoors and our stories. The world’s best athletes are coming and they along with our mountain icons will be leaving a legacy of human endeavour. The Arts, Culture, Sustainability and Heritage community, along with many other organizations, will be hard pressed to make ends meet after 2010, lets make sure we have a little cushion of cash to deal with 2011.

Anyway, I was just thinking!... How about you? Speak out, there isn’t much time left to do so.

Alex Kleinman  

Whistler

Help the bears

Sometimes I feel we are becoming to complacent about the bear situation. Perhaps people are oblivious or bored with bear aware issues.

I'm concerned because I was just at the recycling/garbage facility in Function (Monday, 2 p.m.) and there was a young bear trying to get into the dumpster, and though there were people around no one was trying to stop it.

I walked towards it clapping and yelling, and he did move on, after trying to crawl under the dumpster for something.

It makes me angry and frustrated to think that people are letting bears hang around the dump and not making the bear move on. When I see bears misbehaving I try and encourage them to move on, I assume that helps them learn they are not welcome there.

I wish those who do not care or respect these amazing animals would try and step out of their self-centred roles and do the basics to help them, instead of doing nothing — which encourages bad bear behaviour.

I worry that by reporting the bear I have made his plight worse. All I can do is try and help them and hope that most Whistlerites are doing the same.   Karen Thomson

Whistler

DPAC concerned by schedule

This letter was addressed to the board of School District 48. A copy was forwarded to Pique for publication.

Last night our District Parents’ Advisory Council met to discuss the proposed school closures for the 2009-2010 school year. Representatives from VANOC and the RMOW were present to answer questions from our members, in addition to Trustees Walden, Fenton and Superintendent Rick Erickson as well as Marjorie Reimer from the HSTA (Howe Sound Teachers Association). We had representation from all of our district’s 14 schools with the exception of Garibaldi Highlands, Stawamus and Blackwater Creek. During the business part of our meeting we passed a motion regarding the proposed policy that:

• Until the care and instructional needs of all elementary school students can be met by facilities in the communities, DPAC recommends these schools stay open.

• DPAC supports the schedule for high school students provided they are properly prepared for provincial exams and that other opportunities are provided, especially for students at risk, during the closure period.

• DPAC recognizes the motion by the WSS PAC to support a closure of two weeks only, to align with other district secondary schools.

• Time lost from the instructional year must be made up with compensatory days, rather than minutes or “chunks” of time added to each school day.

It was made clear that the Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish elementary school aged childcare programs will not be able to meet the demand if the number of children requiring care during the Olympic period exceeds present capacity. Furthermore, while there are parents surveyed who prefer to have schools closed, they do not form the majority. Working parents will have two choices if childcare needs are not met, they will have to quit their jobs or leave their children at home unattended. DPAC does not find those choices acceptable. If childcare program capacity issues are addressed to our satisfaction, we will reconsider the proposal.

Given that we were not given a calendar to consider we must proceed with caution regarding secondary school closures. We require proof that secondary students’ educational needs will be met and that there will be opportunity for meaningful engagement for these students and especially for students at risk during the time they are out of school.

Thank you for your consideration of these points. We look forward to our 2010 School Closure Feedback Meeting for Educational Partners on Nov. 7 to answer any questions regarding our stand on this issue.

Cathy Jewett

DPAC Chair,

SD48

Open door policy part of the problem

My wife and I recently enjoyed a lovely weekend at Whistler eating and shopping at various establishments. We were very pleased to see the Green ad on local TV, to encourage CO2 reduction.

We were a little confused, however, by the wide open shop doors, as cool blasts of air heralded the descent of the freezing level and early snows.

Some European ski resorts are already feeling global warming’s ugly effects; open doors in October are part of the problem, not the solutions.

David Thompson

Vancouver

Playground grows

Playground Builders wishes to thank everyone involved with the foundation launch last Friday night. Those who attended the fun evening contributed to a new playground by just being there.

The challenge issued by Brian and Joan McIntosh was met by locals creating the funds for at least four new Playgrounds! We live in the land of play and this night provided the ability to export fun to children in conflict zones around the world.

Thank you to all!

Keith Reynolds

Whistler

Pita patter

Turning Pita Etc from a little known deli into a popular hangout for the young residents of Whistler was a lot of fun. When we took over the lease of only 18 months, we knew what we were getting into. It was a sad day when we stopped serving food.

Owning and operating Pita Etc has been one of the most fun and fulfilling experiences of our lives. The people who live here, whether for a season or for life, are truly what make this resort the best in the world. There were days when, working in the shop I was on a first name basis with everyone who came in. Even the biggest sales days didn't put a smile on my face like making "the usual" for one of our regulars.

We have decided not to renew the lease for a number of reasons, but rest assured, the entrepreneurial spirit is not crushed. We ran the municipal parks concessions this past summer and will do so again next year with more enthusiasm than ever. The same dedication to great service, amazing food and fun atmosphere will be fully applied to Lost Lake, Spruce Grove and Rainbow Park.

So, Whistler, it's not “good bye” it's “see ya later”. Thank you for making Pita Etc the success that it was. Moreover, thank you all for showing us that Whistler is home, Pita or not.

Jason Newton

Will Jackson

Whistler

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