I’ve been accused of going negative in my columns recently, mostly stemming from a piece I wrote questioning the state of municipal spending when I learned my property taxes and resident fees were going up in 2008. Some people took the column personally, I’ve heard, and credit me for saying things I never actually said, and for implying things I’ve never implied.
I take nothing back, but do apologize if anyone was upset. If it’s any consolation, I wrote that column when I was upset at having to pony up at least $400 more in taxes this year.
Between rising strata fees (an unhappy byproduct of all the snow we had in 2006-07), and higher taxes, my cost of living in 2008 will be higher by around $70 a month. That doesn’t include rising propane and gas prices, rising food prices because of rising gas prices, and all the other price increases we’re seeing.
While I can technically absorb these increases, they don’t leave much wiggle room in my household with a baby on the way. I recently did a post-baby budget based on our expenses the past four months and the increases on the way, and found that we’re going to be spending more than we’re taking in without cutting expenses — and we’re not exactly living the high life now.
So I was upset, and wrote a column about it. However, I’m of the belief that governments should always expect a little criticism when they raise taxes. It goes with the territory, the same way I can always expect criticism when I write a subjective column. It’s nothing personal.
But I also believe that you have to give credit where credit is due, which is one of the failings of the media. We’re not very good at positive news stories. “If it bleeds, it leads”, is one of the oldest maxims of the profession.
That said, there is a lot that the municipality and its partners are doing right these days and they deserve a lot of credit.
First of all, the Whistler Holiday Experience was pure genius. For nine hours a day during the holidays the Telus Conference Centre hosted visiting and resident families by offering free mini golf, free movies, a free bouncy castle, free video games.
I can say that parents I talked to appreciated this amenity a lot, and will be looking for it when they come back next year.
The resort has always looked for ways to add value for visitors, and family-friendly attractions that people can enjoy when the mountains are closed or the weather turns ugly. The fact that everything was free made it all the more special.