Whistler’s Answers: May 19, 1983

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1983.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: We’re not sure this question requires any additional context.

Christine Rodgers – Physician – White Gold

I know all the studies say that if you lift the drinking age it helps but I think it would be more effective to penalize drunk drivers more heavily. I’m not in favour of raising the legal age, I’d rather see the penalties applied more stringently and across the board.

Dave Cipp – Bartender – White Gold

No, I think that would only make things worse. It would lead to drinking in parks and cars. I think they’d find this age group would become more militant not easier to handle. If they’re old enough and responsible enough to vote then it’s a real kick in the head to say they can’t drink.

Karen Playfair – Grocery Store Employee – Alpine Meadows

I don’t really think there would be fewer incidents. What authorities should do is make penalties stricter and make people more aware of the dangers and they’d have to do this when they reach 21 anyway. It’s attitudes not ages that need changing.

A Hole in the Village

In the early 1990s, Larco Investments Ltd. had grand plans for their lot in the Whistler Village. The lot, which at the time had been serving as a parking lot for skiers and visitors, was often referred to locally as the Keg Lot, as it was located next to the building that houses the Keg restaurant. Unfortunately, over the summer of 1993, it also became known as the Keg Lot Hole.

David Evans of SCS Engineering checks an anchor in the hold excavated on the Keg Lot. The anchors are designed to ensure the concrete walls of the hole don’t collapse or slump from erosion. Whistler Question Collection, Bonny Makarewicz 1993.

Larco’s original plans for the Keg Lot featured a “bowling and condominium hotel complex,” including three levels of parking, a 24 – 34 lane bowling alley, health and fitness spa, car wash for the use of guests, commercial spaces, a restaurant, and, of course, guest accommodations. All this was to be built over two phases, with the first phase completed by May 1994.

Despite a few hiccups over their building permit, the excavation of the Keg Lot was well underway in July 1993. In order to provide the required 650 parking stalls and other underground spaces, a very large hold was dug. According to one report in the Whistler Question, the lot looked “like the set for a science fiction film,” with an impressively large crater surrounded by “miles” of plywood paneling. In an effort to make the plywood walls more attractive, Marion Harding of the Shepard Gallery and the Whistler Community Arts Council (now known as Arts Whistler) called on residents and visitors alike to decorate the boards. Established and aspiring artists were told they could paint whatever they liked, while being reminded that the panels would be seen by all ages.

Artists at work on panels along the Village Stroll over the summer of 1993. Whistler Question Collection, Kevin Damaskie, 1993.

Rumours and suggestions of problems at the Keg Lot began to circulate not long after the lot was excavated, centering on the Ministry of Environment’s unexpected requirement that a $2.7 million water basin be constructed below the bowling alley. The unforeseen cost led Larco to begin negotiating concessions with the municipality, asking that the RMOW take over construction of part of the parking structure or eliminate some parking stalls, as well as for concessions on the buildings’ design requirements. The municipality did not agree to Larco’s demands, pointing out that they could not be on the hook every time something went wrong with a development. On August 4, 1993, Larco had announced that it was temporarily halting the project until an agreement could be reached. By the next week, it was accepted that the hold would remain as it was until at least the next spring. This presented various problems: the RMOW had begun work on Village Gate Boulevard that depended on the work on the Keg Lot going ahead, the Village area was down a parking lot, and the lot (while not the first hole to be left in the Village) was considered unsightly.

Artist Matthew Bankert works on his submission to the panel competition: Post-Apocalyptic Corn. Whistler Question Collection, Kevin Damaskie, 1993.

While work was stopped on the lot, the artwork on the panels surrounding the Keg Lot continued to grow. By mid-August, about 40 of the 117 panels had already been painted and only six panels were still up for grabs. The subject matter varied: next to the North Shore Credit Union (now Blueshore Financial) was a four-panel rant, outside the Val d’Isere Restaurant (now 21 Steps) a panel featured psychedelically splattered trees, a visiting family from Seattle created a panoramic mountain scene, a local 5-year-old enlisted her family to help paint tulips, and artist Matthew Bankert entitled his piece “Post-Apocalyptic Corn.” By September, it was estimated that over 400 people had worked on the panels. A panel of judges awarded top prizes to Melisa Hardy, for her creation “Woman and a Cat,” and Lauren Collins (Children Under 12) for “Horses and Picket Fence.”

The Keg Lot Hole as it stood in March 1994. Whistler Question Collection, Bonny Makarewicz, 1994.

Construction on the Keg Lot restarted in April 1994 and by the next year there was no longer a large hold. The Whistler Village Centre Holiday Inn held a soft opening in March 1995, with the Hard Rock Cafe (in the space now occupied by Earls) and a bowling alley expected to follow later that year.

May Speaker Series with Mike Truelove

Mike Truelove has welded thousands of mountain bike frames (over 1,000 for Chromag alone!) and, though some things stay the same, seen a lot of changes along the way. We are very excited to be joined by Mike this month to learn more about the bikes we ride and the evolution of mountain bike design!

Event begins at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 ($5 for Museum or Club Shred members) and are available at the Whistler Museum or over the phone at 604-932-2019.

There will be limited tickets available for in-person Speaker Series in accordance with the capacity of the Whistler Museum. Speaker Series events will also be streamed live – contact us to register for the livestream at 604-932-2019 or events @ whistlermuseum.org.

Whistler’s Answers: May 12, 1983

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1983.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: In May 1983, Whistler Council passed a resolution to lower trail crew wages from $8.50/hour to $6.50/hour for all staff hired after May 15, 1983, in order to keep municipal wages in line with the wages paid for similar work by other businesses in the valley. This was met with mixed reactions. Whistler Mountain said that it had been having trouble hiring lift operators at $5.50/hour when they were earning more from the municipality in the winter, some thought it was unfair to expect taxpayers to subsidize the municipality’s higher rate of pay, and others thought that the job security and preferential hiring for future seasons were benefits that made up for the lower wage. However, Blackcomb Mountain said they had not been having trouble finding seasonal employees, and other pointed out that parks and recreation workers in West Vancouver (who were unionized) were making $11.15/hour for the same work.

Question: Do you think the municipality should pay lower wages to its seasonal employees to stay in line with what the mountains pay?

Dave Manual – Garbologist – Alta Vista

Two factors are involved that make me disagree with that idea. First the trail crew does a lot of hard physical work and second the lifties are underpaid anyway. They’re expecting people to live below the poverty line. Everyone’s into cutting back these days but such a drastic cut is unnecessary.

Andy Williamson – Dishwasher – Gondola Area

That’s nuts! You can’t justify lowering the wages of one group of people just because another group is underpaid in the first place. The lifties get certain privileges with their jobs to help compensate for low wages, what can they offer the trail crew?

Kevin Morgan – Employment Bridging Assistance Program Employee – White Gold

I think the municipal trail crew should be earning even more than they are. They are out there doing very physical labour and several of them have experience. They deserve all the money they get – no way should their wages by any less than they are.