Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

All the news for April 1



By G.D. Maxwell

Spring has sprung and winter is finally upon us… today. Tomorrow? Who knows? We may be planting bananas or embracing cardiac arrest from shoveling out our driveway now that the friendly snow clearing company who usually does mine seems to have vanished from our tropical winter paradise.

Global warming – an accepted scientific phenomenon everywhere in the world except the U.S. where such wild theories as, oh, evolution are under attack by the Islamic, er, Christian fundamentalists – is expressing itself as more a roulette wheel of weather than a scorched-earth reality. Springlike weather, snowdrops and crocuses popping up in February, powder days in April. Can’t wait to see what summer brings, other than water restrictions and wildfires.

But spring is undeniably the time of renewal and one of the things that crop up every year along with the first shoots of new growth are wacky, wacky news stories. This year is no exception.

I’m not talking about the Darwin Award kind of news stories, though admittedly the Darwin winner who was attempting to siphon gas from a Seattle motorhome and stuck his hose into the sewage holding tank by mistake is a wacky, wacky story according to the report filed by police who found the culprit curled up next to the RV, puking his guts out. No, I’m talking about stories like these you might have missed.

South of the border, there’s a bunfight going on to determine who will purchase the remaining – and controlling – interest in Mammoth Mountain ski area. Renown ski pioneer, Dave McCoy, who, contrary to well-circulated rumours is still alive, is now ready to sell the rest of the LA playground he built from scratch sometime in the last century.

Leading contenders are our own Intrawest, who has been rebuilding the town of Mammoth in its own image for the past decade and who owns 55 per cent, more or less, of the company’s shares; one of those other big, Colorado ski companies whose name can’t be mentioned without conjuring the Devil; Disney – whose founder, Walt himself, casts a long shadow over Mammoth, having been a close, personal friend of Dave’s – and longtime Mammoth honcho and family friend, Rusty Gregory, considered a dark horse.

The outcome is uncertain but this much is known. If that unnamed Colorado ski company ponys up the winning bid, Intrawest will probably sell to (a) avoid the appearance of collusion and risk the sweeping spotlight of the newly-emboldened antitrust gang, and (b) because Big Joe once said he’d rather dance with the devil than learn the Colorado two-step.

But completely unfounded rumour has it that the wizards at Intrawest’s Dominate the World’s Playgrounds division, led by the illustrious monopolist Sloof Lirpa, are conspiring with Disney to, "Beat the pants off those Colorado ninnies." Leaked details of the deal include the quid pro quo of a sweet lifetime pass to all Disney resorts for Intrawest executives in exchange for the MotherCorp adopting Disney’s enlightened policies on grooming – no facial hair for men, mandatory virginity for women – and frequent drug testing of all employees with a zero-tolerance for anything stronger than lemonade.

Alone in bucking this alliance of convenience is our own Dave Brownlie, Whistler-Blackcomb’s grand fromage. "Jeez," Dave is reputed to have exclaimed at a recent board meeting. "I mean, we’ve proven we can operate without snow and whatnot, but I don’t think even we’re good enough to operate without employees!"

In municipal news, a group of homeowners in Tapley’s Farm have banded together to irrefutably prove, once and for all, that those who are ignorant of history are indeed doomed to repeat it.

Perhaps unaware of the area’s history, or perhaps just comfortably ignorant, the impromptu group has come together to fight the Whistler Housing Authority’s plans to go forward with employee housing on two road-end sites in the subdivision. Citing, among other rationale, the area’s potential for flooding, impacts on property value, the underlying undesirability of employee housing in a family neighbourhood, the small Lorimer Road townhome development as evidence they’d "done their bit for employee housing" and, quite possibly, the fall of society as we know it, the group has been quick to say, "This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill nimbyism."

Twenty-five years ago, Tapley’s Farm became the site of the first large-scale employee-restricted housing experiment after a group of pioneering shitdisturbers banded together to pummel the sitting municipal council into submission. Recognizing they were building on a floodplain – which was easy to recognize when the whole place flooded in 1980 while they were installing services – extensive dyking was put in place. Price and employee restrictions were later fought successfully, resulting in Tapley’s becoming a neighbourhood of million dollar homes and a hotbed of nimbyism.

True to the spirit of the place though, a small and not very vocal group of residents have come together to support WHA’s proposal. Reached for comment on their neighbour’s opposition to developing the two sites, they said, "Ohmigod, some of us have become our parents. What a shame."

Also in municipal news, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has embraced two new triple-P initiatives designed to make up some of the shortfall in revenue resulting from (a) overspending and (b) the screw job Gordon "Rear-entry" Campbell’s government laid on it after reneging on its promised "financial tools" initiative, rebranded as the Spare Change Policy.

In a groundbreaking public-private partnership, the Muni has granted two commercial fishing licences for driftnetters to operate on the River of Golden Dreams. The fishers will be harvesting the wild Kokanee – the fish out here – that have returned in record numbers to the river as a result of (a) the back-breaking efforts of the Fisheries Stewardship group and numerous volunteer groups, and (b) luck.

Asked about the wisdom of establishing a commercial fishery on the RofGD, a muni worker requesting anonymity said, "Hey, it’s a twofer: we get money while the Kokanee last and we can get rid of those damn fences."

The other PPP initiative also embraces new and unusual ways to cash in on Whistler’s wildlife. Extreme Bear Wrestling licenses will be offered on a trial basis this summer to, as one wit around the hall put it, "People, well, tourists really, with more bravo than brains." Licencees will have the chance to accompany Whistler’s new bear manager and wrestle bears who have become habituated to human food, into relocation cages. "We used to just lure them in with pie," said yet another unnamed rumour-monger, "but now we can provide yet another mindless distraction for people in search of an ultimate adrenaline rush."

Municipal lawyers are hard at work drafting a new liability waiver for bear wrestlers to sign.

Life, as it turns out, is not a stage, it’s just a ring in the circus and we all are fools.