The Letter…

letter To The Editor Published in The Whistler Pique News Magazine July 2nd, 2009, that inspired the next post…

One leg at a time

When I was a teenager in the early ’80s I wanted a pair of Schneider ski pants. You know the ones… stretchy with the stitched in pads on the knees and shins. The problem was they were $700. I pleaded and bargained with my parents to take me back to Sport Chek to get them and they did. We went back to the store, found my size in the cool black with dark red (no neon for me) and took them to the counter to pay. (This is the part where you all need to put down your Blackberry’s and PDA’s, close your laptops and listen… just listen like I did when I was 13 thinking I had all the answers.) I gave the pants to the person at the till and my mom asked if they had layaway. Huh? Layaway? To make a long story shorter… and I trust you all see where this is going… my parents asked me if I had $700. I said no. And they said when you do, you can have the pants.

Nearly a year later, after collecting bottles, saving birthday money from grandparents (a dollar for every year I aged… you do the math), and a summer of Saturdays filling bags with screws in my parents waterbed factory for 5 cents a bag, I bought those pants for $700 – and a matching Schneider sweater, the one with the windproof front and the gate-bashing pads on the elbows to match the pants, with the extra money I had earned and saved.

Many years later, late 30-something, nice cars, cool bikes, lots of ski pants, working for a big fortune 500 company, credit cards, lines of credit, and still paying rent in Whistler, a one liner on a Dr. Phil show with a married couple in debt trouble took me back to that first day in 1982 I thought I was taking those pants home: “You can’t afford it.” I cancelled all the cards but my VISA, rolled our debts into one payment and convinced the bank they should help us buy a home with the WHA. A couple years later I opened my own business. Less is more.

Those words are echoing down the halls of the RMOW, “You can’t afford it.” The parking, the paving, the water treatment, the new uniforms, the buses, the raises, the plaza, the whatever it is the municipality is doing at Rebagliati Park. We simply can’t afford it. It’s not about legacy or maintaining the experience or our obligation to our partners at VANOC, the Ministry of Transportation, or how long it’s been since council’s last pay increase. It’s about whether or not you have the $700. I haven’t seen the RMOW bank account but I’m pretty sure the near 20 per cent increase in my property taxes in one year, not three as promised, is a sign the RMOW doesn’t have the money. The tax payers are not the municipality’s line of credit.

In his book, Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard (founder and owner of Patagonia brand) lends a quote from the pioneer French aviator Antoine de Saint Exupery: “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away…”

I trust that in all of this the mayor and his team have the best intentions but maybe, just maybe, we are all here, and now the world is coming, because this place we call home is perfect enough. No finger pointing, no rhetoric, just simple advice. The mayor and council have two more years to make this right. Please, stop spending more of my money and make this a better place by doing less and taking less from the hard working people who really make Whistler what it is.


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