Opinion » Maxed Out

Supporting housing at Nesters Crossing

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Before I begin trying to make sense out of nonsense—or, perhaps, the other way around—I'd just like to take this opportunity to say it's not my fault. While posing a formidable, if chimerical, challenge, the Campagne de Fous bears no responsibility whatsoever for Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden's decision to step down at the end of this term. After serving the community as councillor and mayor for 17 years, the mayor deserves to focus on just one job for a change. Let this be a lesson to all of you trying to juggle several jobs just to stay in Whistler—stick around long enough, do good work, volunteer tirelessly, take more abuse then you rightly deserve, and someday you too may be able to cut back to just one job.

All joking aside, if that's possible, Ms. Wilhelm-Morden deserves and has richly earned the community's thanks. As a reward for her long service and efforts to make this town a better place to live I believe we should let her select, say, the five most obnoxious social media trolls and run them out of town. It would be so much more satisfying—not to mention a community service—than naming her a freeman/person of Whistler. Second?

OK, plaudits out of the way, I'm still stuck on a dilemma. Being a lighter shade of green, I try to do the right(ish) thing, environmentally. I recycle at a level that would make a rag picker's head spin. I haven't used a plastic shopping bag since the last time I lined the small garbage bin under my sink—I believe Stephen Harper was still PM. I won't even kiss anyone who's been drinking bottled water. I have nothing but low-flow, dual-flush toilets. I use so little water to shower I offend people. Some day I'll probably buy an electric car. When I die, I've left instructions to just compost me, er, it ... whatever's left.

But now I have to choose between potentially poisoning myself, putting what few braincells remain viable in jeopardy, or conserving water? Or simply give up water as a beverage and continue on the road I'm currently on, drinking only wine, beer and scotch? Until the dust settles, the only guidance offered from Muni hall is to let your taps run until the water's cold, thus flushing the system that may contain water acidic enough to melt your house's pipes since your kid had a drink five minutes ago. As previously described on this page, it takes about 36 litres of water for what comes out of my kitchen tap to get cold, having to snake through 127 kilometres of Rube Goldberg plumbing in my modest duplex. That doesn't seem to square with the focus on conserving water. Or perhaps I'm missing something.

New federal guidelines are suggesting our drinking water may be more acidic than used to be thought desirable, scaring the pants off people and possibly hanging municipalities, ours included, with considerable expense to bump up the pH. Frankly, I'm not certain why municipal water quality falls under federal jurisdiction to begin with but it reminds me of a saying an old economics prof of mine used to be fond of: Never use a scalpel when a meat axe will do.

The federal government has already cost this municipality a lot with its one-size-fits-all water treatment guidelines that assume every town has a feedlot, steel smelter and/or gold mine operating just upstream of its water source. This is, of course, the same federal government that seems to pay only lip service to northern communities that would love to have slightly acidic drinking water ... or any at all that wasn't brown, smelly and toxic. But then, fixing those systems is on their dime, not junior levels of government.

The only saving grace—Warning: clutching at straws ahead—is they are in what they call a consultation period regarding the new guidelines. So, as a public service, the Campagne offers this consultation: Butt out!

However, I digress.

What I started to rant about before I got distracted by the mayor clearing the path for my Campagne and the National Federal Water Scare, was the systems phenomena known as GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. No doubt you're familiar with the concept. If you load a bunch of data of spurious accuracy and/or authenticity and hope to make any decisions thereon, chances are very good the decisions you make will be, well, garbage.

Which brings us to Nesters Crossing. It appears, and not for the first time by any means, council has been asked to make decisions based on, let's be generous, inaccurate information oozing out of the Planning department. In the marathon council session earlier this spring, when upwards of 45 minutes were spent exploring the qualitative differences between a coffee shop and office coffee—I wish I was making that up—and again at the April 24 meeting, the zoning on this site was repeatedly referred to as Heavy Industrial.

Were it so. But it ain't.

Our CAO isn't particularly concerned about staff feeding council inaccurate, and some may say biased, information. While dodging the question directly, he described staff reports as containing, " ... a lot of due diligence ... and a lot of work to ensure council is fully informed."

Loosely translated, this means staff reports containing the information, or misinformation, necessary to ensure council is as informed as some prefer them to be.

Several councillors have taken umbrage with that notion, preferring a high quality of garbage upon which to make their decisions.

But at the bottom of this bun fight is a reality ungrasped. Nesters Crossing is not Function Junction. It's only a fraction the size. It is conveniently located to the village and shopping. It is served nicely by the Valley Trail. It will never need sidewalks and lighting any more than the un-sidewalked, unlit residential areas that abound in Whistler.

So for the love of Dog, can we put the petty, personal, historic differences aside and do what's best for this town? Let the developers get on with it. Forget the absurd landscaping requirements—I really like the massive landscaping at BC Transit's Garage Mahal, which, by the way, could have been built at Nesters Crossing had there not been personal pique involved between council of the day and the developers at the time—and let them build four or five or seven employee housing units in there if they want.

It's the right thing for the town and, not to belabour a point, we're better than this.

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