Oh to be the Japanese government. Sure, they've got a natural and manmade disaster of epic proportions to deal with. Unknown thousands of souls have perished in the blink of an eye, whole towns and villages have simply vanished and the country's economy has taken a 100+ billion dollar body blow. Their vital nuclear power infrastructure is in the process of melting down, a phenomenon known there as the Brazil Syndrome - South Atlantic, actually but a twist here a slight deviation there and it all spills out in the slums of Brasilia.
Fortunately, what they don't have to grapple with is the seemingly impossible, intractable tangle of pay parking. Easy enough to avoid when you just had a tsunami clear the landscape and park cars akimbo, one atop the other. Were it all so easy here in Tiny Town.
Now, I don't want to make light of the incredible tragedy that's unfolding in Japan but short of sending my contributions - may I be so bold as to recommend Doctors Without Borders http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/overview.cfm - there's not much I can do. Contribute globally, act locally. Well, for that matter, contribute locally too; the many Whistler businesses swirling the bowl will appreciate it.
Given the incredible images and stories coming out of Japan of the rapid mobilization of emergency forces, the calm, orderly one-foot-ahead-of-the-other fashion with which the citizenry is beginning to grapple with the incomparable task confronting them, the lack of looting and rioting such a disaster would unleash in many other countries and the government's well-orchestrated response, I'm left to ponder how in the world this town could deal with something a fraction - very small fraction - of the magnitude of that challenge.
And, more specifically, why we can't deal with pay parking. The first iteration, last spring, was a... I hesitate to use the word disaster, but it was a monumental screw-up. So poorly planned it defames the word planning, so poorly communicated it suggests we're a town run by mutes, its only saving grace came in quickly withdrawing it, admittedly after a council meeting overly-well attended by villagers carrying torches and pitchforks.
The second iteration, the current regime, is an unmitigated failure as well. The day skier lots are virtually empty. The garage under the conference centre is empty except for the lowest level where reasonably-priced monthly parking is oversubscribed. Of course this clear demonstration of demand is insufficient to move the muni to open the second-lowest level to those closed out of the lowest. And so it sits empty too.
And yet, for a town of fewer than 10,000 people, we seem to be so mired in incompetence we can't tweak what is patently not working. The long-awaited third iteration - a secret so poorly kept everybody's been talking about it since it was first muttered by the Group of Six - has been, drum roll, postponed. And so, businesses in town sit and wait. Staff dust inventory that isn't moving, talk to themselves to keep from going stir crazy, owners ponder the imponderable. We wait.