A new board, a new hope
It was really a great moment to see a room full of excitement and enthusiasm in Tourism Whistler's Annual General Meeting May 17.
I believe I got my message across to the newly-elected board about responding to the changing nature of our industry and our market. The spirit to reach out beyond our traditional market is critical in sustaining our industry for years to come, even more critical beyond the Olympics.
We need to build our spring and fall businesses as much as we rely on our winter and summer businesses. We also need to offer cultural, wellness and relaxing experiences for our guests as much as we promote our self as a place for fun, adventure and discovery.
We need to nurture our regional market as much as we need to strengthen our long-haul market. We should invite various ethnic communities in the lower mainland to bring their festivals here.
We probably need to show that we are opening our doors to the Asians too, as much as we've welcomed our European and the American visitors all these years.
All of our members need to become Whistler tourism ambassadors wherever we go and promote a renewed energy of Whistler to all the people we meet. Only through the participation of all businesses and individuals in our community, Whistler can secure its position in the world marketplace. Therefore we also need to communicate this clearly to the members of Tourism Whistler.
In the fast-paced business world of today, there is no point in circling our wagons. The only way to survive is to reach out and to let the rest of the world know about our beautiful place.
Congratulations to our newly-elected board: all of you have the opportunity to translate this new Whistler spirit into a prosperous and sustainable industry.
Mountain Mama too extreme
This letter is regarding your choice of the winner of the Extreme Mountain Mama contest (The Question, May 17).
At first, I thought that this must be a joke. This woman is the poorest example of how to behave during a pregnancy. If she wishes to put herself at risk, alone, that is fine. However, she jepoardized the safety of her child. She was lucky and she is immature.
Your newspaper has made an incredibly irresponsible decision to spotlight this woman as someone to be emulated.
Golf, Leafs, golf
Re: "Get a grip on reality, Sens fan" (Letters to the Editor, May 17)
Good to see I was wrong: some Leafs fans do read, they're just not particularly strong at writing. It seems your counterpoint to my tongue-in-cheek point about vandals taking away from fun-loving hockey fan traditions was that acceptance of perennial losing in professional sports should be admired.
If I ever "whine" about my favourite hockey team losing or if I don't show loyalty to Canada's game, feel free to point it out to me, but be assured that I'll never grow complacent about under achievement or senseless vandalism.
By the way, since you brought up the Leafs golfing, I would have thought that at least one ex-Leaf would have made the PGA tour in the past 40 years. Cheers.
Make 'green' power worth the effort
I read both articles dealing with energy issues in the Whistler area ("'Carbon tax' advocated," The Question, April 12.)
It appears to me that the question of GHG emission and healthy environment is much more complicated to be solved by carbon tax or simple change of attitudes (NIMBY).
Our problem with worsening livability of our environment is deeply rooted in the economic and financial policies of our governments as well as in our consumer mentality carrying over from the past century.
The carbon tax will not make a dent in our living habits, the way alcohol and tobacco sky-high taxes do not discourage people from drinking and smoking. It will simply transfer money from offenders to government coffers, leaving us with a worsening environment.
Instead of punishing people, we as a society must offer alternate energy that will make economic sense to all of us - consumers and producers. This, luckily, is in the power of all levels of government. The producers of alternative green energy, whether it is wind, solar or hydro, do not necessarily need government incentive but rather the removal of all those disincentives that have accumulated in the past 40 or 50 years and are still in place nowadays.
Let me illustrate the economic situation of a micro-hydro producer.
I applied for a permit for a green micro-hydro project under the B.C. Hydro Net Metering Program. I was amazed to find that all levels of government are levying numerous fees and taxes on every step of the process of green power production!
Here are some examples:
1. The Water License Application Fee for a 26 Kw plant is $5,000, the same as for a 20-megawatt plant. For the former, this single fee represents 10 per cent of the total average project cost of $50,000!;
2. Annual water rental fee for power production is $700;
3. Water usage fee of is $0.003 per cubic kilometer;
4. Application fee to occupy Crown land is $100;
5. Annual rental fee for occupying Crown land: Unavailable;
6. Annual fee for each installed Kw of capacity is $3.76;
7. "Annual Power Output" Fee of $1.103 for each Mwh produced;
8. Each additional Mwh over 160 Mwh is $ 5.147;
9. There is GST on all material and equipment;
10. There is PST on the tubing, unless purchased as a package with the turbine and generator, leaving the green power producer open to any mark -up charges by the turbine supplier, thus eliminating any PST relief;
11. The property tax in Squamish on that portion of land occupied by the hydro project (class 2) rises 800 per cent (from $7 per $1,000 of assessed value to $57 per $1,000;
12. Increased dyking tax: Unavailable.
13. Finally, income tax on anything that is left.
14. While spending the last dollar, of course, then comes again PST and GST.
15. On larger IPP project, the local governments expect their cuts ($1,700 to $1,800 per Gwh by SLRD and additional 20 to 25 per cent of that in annual amenity contributions.
16. Rezoning fee of $12,500.
17. And of course the native people get their share.
B.C. Hydro limits net metering production to 50 Kw, while Ontario has a cap of 100 Kw and California has 500Kw. Ontario pays 11 cents per Kwh, while B.C. Hydro offers 5.4 cents.
Now, is there any point in discussing green energy in B.C? There are many penstocks in place in Pemberton Valley for irrigation purposes that could produce green power most of the year, contributing substantially to the energy independence of the corridor. It is not happening because it is not worth it! Is there a single company in Whistler that wants to go green by paying 3 cents extra per Kwh? I could supply it!
The provincial and local governments must stop treating green energy production as a cash cow and then and only then we will see increase in alternate energy production and lessening dependence on carbon-based energy.
The other big land deal
The Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations get 300 acres of prime real estate to sell or develop, Whistler gets 10,600 acres out of future land claims reach and the B.C. government gets a hassle-free Olympics. Sounds like a good bargain all around.
But there is another land development deal in the works, a purchase of sorts by the Squamish Nation of the Cheekye Fan Lands, 1100 acres north of Brackendale in the District of Squamish. This deal is also rumoured to be a bid to buy peace for the Olympics. Why it is necessary to make these pre-Olympic non-treaty land deals is a question in itself but the Whistler agreement could be cause for celebration here in Brackendale by taking some of the pressure off of the Cheekye Fan deal which includes a 40-acre parcel known locally as the Brackendale Farmers Institute [BFI] Park.
The concern here in Brackendale is not about land development, who buys the land or who is doing the developing. The community is growing whether we like it or not. And it is not our worry that the land in question was until recently deemed not developable due to a cataclysmic geological probability, although we would have been quite happy to keep it that way.
Our concern is with the BFI Park land that lies right in the middle between the existing community of Brackendale and the Cheekye Fan Lands. Fifty years ago, some farseeing old-timers designated this land as a "People's Park" but, in spite of years of effort, it has still not been formalized as a park. A small portion is home to the Brackendale Fall Fair. The rest is old second-growth mixed Douglas Fir forest habitat teeming with birds and other wildlife and cris-crossed by well-used trails. It is our Pacific Spirit Park, our Stanley Park, and we would like to keep it for future generations.
Brackendale is famous as the Winter Home of the Bald Eagle. Thousands of eagles come here from November to February to feed on the spawning salmon. In 1996, the Province of B.C., after much petitioning by community groups and individuals, set aside 1,500 acres to protect the eagles' habitat from human encroachment. The current government recently added 100 acres to that. We had the good sense to save 1,600 acres for the eagles. We should be able to save these 40 acres for the people.
Thor and Dorte Froslev
Service goes both ways
I have to respond to Cathy Goddard's article "Embrace your job, no matter what it is" (The Question, May 17). She is responding to the lack of great service in the valley.
I do agree that the service industry in Whistler has gone downhill, in general. Servers expect tips. They deserve tips. I've seen servers run their clients down to ask why they didn't leave more of a tip. This is all crazy to me.
But there is another side of the coin. A friend who has given great service for 16-plus years at the Longhorn has just left his job with a "Thanks". I think he got that - well I hope. You may all know "Baz" as he has been a fixture in the Longhorn for over a decade. He left his job for another path without any recognition. NOTHING.
Hmmm...you put in 16-plus years and nothing? People came to the Longhorn just for his service and humour.
C'mon business owners, step up and give good service to your staff. This is also important!
A new board, a new hope