Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

Whistler of the Future



And so, the seasons turn. Like daylight savings time, spring slips in under the radar early this year. As if noting the disappearance of the last layer of ice on my driveway, the metallic warble of varied thrushes announces the ever-earlier dawning of morning skies. The sharp-edged scrape of skis and boards on freeze-and-thaw snow grants permission to turn over, go back to sleep and get a later start on the mountains.

Though there’s still a quarter-year of ski season to go — at least for those who grind it out until early June — thoughts turn to other pursuits this time of year. Those who still play the game begin to get itchy to swing golf clubs and swear at golf balls following a trajectory other than the one they planned. Bikes have already been spotted throwing up roostertails of corn snow on the valley trail.

Like a late-winter virus, creeping thoughts of exhausting renovation, wholesale landscaping and the endless effort to keep the wilderness from reclaiming each of our little parcels of ersatz civilization begin to gnaw at our brains, chewing away at the rational thought centres that would otherwise save us from ever undertaking those ill-advised projects for which we have more enthusiasm to start than skill to finish.

And, of course, if you’re a red-blooded Canadian — particularly of the XY persuasion — you begin to get downright giddy at the approaching chainsaw season. “I love the smell of two-stroke exhaust in the morning,” says Chainsaw Al, my neighbour who believes Joyce Kilmer got it all wrong when he waxed poetic about trees.

Al would feel right at home in Whistler next month when the blue smoke and screaming engines start to lay waste to the urban forest on Lot 1/9. For that matter, so would any politician or corporate captain with a penchant for wasteful, unnecessary, inflated and ill-advised opportunities to squander other people’s money. When the smoke clears, when the trees are hauled off, when the squatters are evicted, when the millions of dollars are set in paving stones, sweeps of concrete, flagposts and a three-tiered podium, when the Games are finished and the last medals hung around necks of soon-to-be-forgotten heroes, what’ll we have left?

A legacy?

I know it’s pointless to flog a dead horse, tilt at windmills and piss into the wind. But I can’t help wishing someone would come to their senses about building, or more accurately, not building the Olympic Medals Plaza on Lot 1/9 until they come up with a really good explanation of what they’ll do with the leftover white elephant after the Games are finished and how much all that paved-over paradise will cost to maintain each and every year between now and, oh, forever.

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