Who’s leading this team?
I have been a great fan of Whistler for 40 years, first as a student at UBC and now as retired resident, and during that time I have seen several reincarnations of this great town. However, today I feel the present council's attempt (excepting two of its members) to not suffer the indignity of losing the top ranked ski resort billing through piling on expensive projects to enhance the "visitors experience" is fraught with risk and certainly the wrong way for us to be headed. We all know if the local flavour of long term residents vacates this town it will never be the same. We should be more aware that we are competing with other B.C. resorts — their costs for B.C. vacationers and their tax levels for locals — international travelers will continue to favour us because of our terrain, not ultra expensive civic projects. We are told we compete with destination resorts such as Las Vegas. However Vegas is incredibly successful for its gambling and entertainment experience, undeterred by an airport that feels like it's from Eastern Europe a decade ago. Vancouver is not held back by the lack of freeways and an inadequate transit system. My thoughts are that the resort operator Intrawest provides the goods for the tourists and the community provides services that its residents can afford — nothing more.
Stephen Jarilowsky, the premier investment manager in Canada, speaking at his recent induction to The Canadian Business Hall of Fame, referred to Hedge Funds as the SCUM of our financial markets — our council's pandering up to Fortress with an unnecessary tax break over the next four years while laying on what will be at best a 40 per cent tax increase over the same time period for locals can only set the stage for a tax revolt. In 2006 the top 20 American hedge fund managers earned $825 million each, or as much in 16 minutes as the average Whistler family makes in a year. Hedge fund partners have also been favoured by a 15 per cent tax on income by G.W. Bush — an inequity currently under fire from Congress. A resident of B.C. will hit twice that tax rate at an income level of $37,884 in 2008. A number of Fortress partners made the latest Forbes list of 400 richest Americans this year. Is Fortress the only business in the valley to receive a tax break from our council in the last year?
Did I really hear our mayor quoted that we should be harnessing the Olympics to get funding for various capital projects and not be worried about the costs? In the case of Lot 1/9, it seems that if we can get others to put up $30 million then it's okay for us to throw in $5 million. On a per capita basis a $5 million expenditure for Whistler is the same as Greater Vancouver spending $700 million on a project. Our library cost us $11.2 million, the City of Vancouver's cost $165 million and even adjusting for inflation since its completion our library cost us three times as much per resident as theirs.