Tag Archives: Ken Melamed

This Week In Photos: April 19

One thing the archives of the Whistler Question proves is that there is always something happening in town, from ski races to performances to the Mountain House Jock Contest.


We’re not sure which race is happening here but this racer is keeping warm on the course.

Jamie T. packing the competitors back up the course for another run.

A reminder to take caution when machines not operating?

One of the two cars that did not make it home up the Lorimer Road hill during the past week.


Technicians at work inside the new BC Telephone Whistler office.

Customer Service Manager David Coath explains the system to Mayor Pat Carleton, while Brian Gilhooley & Rick Hyde listen in.

CHEERS! Vuarnets, beer and sunshine – Bonnie Campbell, Connie Smith, Helen Bartlett, Jan Haldimand, Nigel Woods and Jim Bradley enjoy the sunshine last weekend.

McConkey Cup competitor heads down the course in the ladies division of this fun race on Tuesday, April 15. Full results next week.


It was a skiing Bunny up on Blackcomb Easter Sunday passing out eggs (no, not frozen ones) to mini-skiers.

At the Mountain House Cabaret, the Doc worked his magic once again for Whistlerites for six straight nights. Remember him way back when? Biminis? The Ankor?

Even stacked these should look familiar to anyone who has walked through the Village.

Now you see it – now you don’t. The cornice in Blackcomb Bowl was blasted off on schedule Easter Sunday before it fell of its own accord on some unfortunate skier.

Brand new Adam Smythe, the youngest pass holder on Blackcomb Mountain, shares a look with his mom Debbie.

Debris and ashes are all that remain after the Manson cabin burned to the ground Good Friday. A large flat metal sheet was once a 100-gallon propane tank that exploded and then was flattened after the blast.


Jocks took to the floor Monday night to compete in the Mountain House Jock Contest. Pascal Tiphine took first prize and won a trip to Hawaii.

New Whistler Resident, Ken Wesman.

Whistler Creek’s Penny Wright displays the T-shirt given to her and worn by her staff at a party put on at the Creekhouse by Penny on April 15 for all her helpers.

Brent Harley of the Creekhouse shows the ins and outs of bartending to some of his 18 students as classes wind down in the six-week session.


The Silver Streak cut quite a swath through the crowds on Whistler Mountain Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17. He made himself popular with the after-ski hoards outside the Longhorn by offering cash in exchange for drinking feats. The Longhorn staff say he bought 500 “Kamikazes” (vodka and lime juice shooters) to distribute over the afternoon and evening.

Soloists Tami Casey (the woman at the well) and Bruce Smith (Peter) mourn the death of Christ during the Squamish Youth Chorale’s successful production of the The Day He Wore My Crown stages at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, April 16.

Head flipper Tom McKoy serves up food hot off the grill at the top of Whistler Mountain every fine day at the Ski Inn at the junction of the Orange and Black chairs.

Just try it! This magnificent Bentley was maneuvered into a convenient parking stall in Village Square Sunday, April 17 and since it was a no parking zone, Payless Towing was called to the rescue. The tow truck driver decided it was best not to touch the classy chasis… but the brazen owner did get a ticket.

You put your right foot in… Debbie Gurlach (far right) leads her jazz dance class through a routine Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 at Myrtle Philip School. (L-R) Jan Alsop, Jennifer Marien and Kenny Melamed follow the leader.

Donna Hauschka (left) registers voters for the May 5 election. Debby O’Hanley of Whistler and David and Jimmy Wong of Richmond sign up for their right to vote.


The Bedrock Allstars rocked the Brass Rail last week with their tunes. Keyboard player Bob Muckle and guitarist David Osborne comprise the duet and are based in Vancouver.

Caboose 1836 rolled into Whistler last Tuesday and was promptly lifted off the BC Rail track onto an abandoned sidetrack at the Sabre Trucking yard at Mons. Once refurbished the caboose becomes the new home of the Chamber of Commerce Information Centre. The Chamber purchased the old car at the bargain basement price of $1,500.

Jane Brandon and Eric Wight were the winners this year in the Valley Championship Series held on Blackcomb.

After just eight months managing 76-room Tantalus Lodge, Hugo and Giselle Stam were chosen over 49 other hotels in the US and Canada as Mangers of 1983-84. The award was presented in Bellevue, Washington at an awards banquet April 6. Hotels were judged in five areas: service, congenial staff, cleanliness, hospitality and letters from guests. The secret, say Hugo and Giselle, is teamwork. Having operated their own hotel in Europe for 12 years, and being involved in the hospitality industry for most of their lives, they see hospitality as an attitude, and hotel management as a people-oriented business. And, Giselle adds, without the help of their sons Hugo Jr. and Roger, things would be a lot harder. But before they embark on a summer outdoors tour program a trip to Hawaii is on Giselle and Hugo’s agenda. The trip is part of the Managers award, presented by Marketing Plus Corporation of Bellevue.

Bringing the environment into the mainstream: Ken Melamed, AWARE in the 1990s

Ken photo 1

Last week we wrote a post about the early history of local environmental group AWARE (Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment). We wrote the piece, in part, to promote this month’s Speaker Series featuring long-time environmentalist, former AWARE president, and former Whistler mayor Ken Melamed. Well, last Wednesday Ken delivered some great insights into the history of local environmental movements in the Whistler Valley, so we’ll follow up with some more AWARE history.

One of the great things about Ken’s talk was the broad perspective he brought and his insights into the political processes that informed the development of the Whistler Valley over the years. As a dedicated grassroots environmentalist and a successful politician, he was able to provide excellent context for why specific project and initiatives went forward while others were stopped.

First, lets’ go to Ken, and hear his explanation of one of the key turning points in our valley’s environmental history in the early 1990s:

One lesson he made very clear in the question and discussion session at the end of the night, was “It is always better to be at the table.” What he meant by this was, though it might entail challenging and discouraging compromise, you can always have more influence when you are involved in top-level discussions. Once Ken was elected to municipal council in 1996, he could be far more effective in trying to ensure environmental protection went hand-in-hand with the valley’s continued development.

One such victory was the protection of the Emerald Forest in 1997. Ken expressed disappointment with the compromise which led to some development of the sensitive wetlands, and feels that they could have gone into the development bargaining more aggressively than they did, he still is proud of the fact that only a few acres of the roughly 140-acre parcel were developed. If the original plan to develop the entire area had gone through, Ken asserted, “it would have been an environmental catastrophe.”

As Ken and council started to get serious about habitat conservation and putting intelligent controls on rampant development, AWARE became entangled in its most contentious campaign to date. The story is too long, twisted, and involving to fully recount here, but essentially, major protests sprung up in opposition to the logging of newly discovered old-growth stands in the upper Elaho Valley. Some of the Douglas Firs were estimated at 1300 years old! The activists (from both AWARE and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee) were dedicated to preserving these ancient stands, but some of the loggers were just as dedicated to doing their jobs. Things turned ugly, and violent clashes at logging road blockades actually led to jail time for some of the worst perpetrators. Despite the ugliness (perhaps, in part, because of it), today, the old-growth stands are protected, as well as recognized as a Squamish Nation Wild Spirit Place.

For a more detailed account of the story, read local biologist Bob Brett’s take on the Elaho Old Growth forests from June 2000.

At the same time, AWARE was becoming stretched too thin by the Elaho campaign, and numerous other interests that its membership was pursuing. It was time to take stock of the situation…

AWARE.: definitely not a WASTE

With Ken Melamed’s  upcoming speaker series on the history of habitat conservation in the Whistler Valley, we figured it was an opportune time to look into the history of AWARE (Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment) the local environmental advocacy group that Ken played a formative role in during the 1990s.

AWARE’s origins cold not be any more grassroots; in October 1988 Michelle Bush (still in Whistler today, best known as a  Village Host and as a stage actor/performing artist) was ankle deep in junk mail at the post office, and couldn’t believe that pristine BC forests were being cut down just to create this waste. Instead of shrugging it off, Michelle placed a classified ad inviting anyone and everyone who was similarly fed up.

Roughly 15 people showed up at Citta’s that autumn day to talk about the lack of recycling in Whistler, and to figure out a solution.  They realized pretty quickly that they were going to need a name for their fledgling group. Two witty acronyms were considered: “Whistler Association to Save The Environment” had a nice ring to it, but the acronym WASTE was too negative sounding, so they opted for AWARE.

Fitzsimmons Creek is one of several important habitat areas in the Whistler Valley, protected thanks to AWARE's environmental advocacy. Bob Brett photo.

Fitzsimmons Creek is one of several important habitat areas in the Whistler Valley, protected thanks to AWARE’s environmental advocacy. Bob Brett photo.

An Earth Day fundraiser was organized for that April (a band named Zumac headlined) and the money raised went towards a municipal waste management study. It took some effort convincing the more “old school” administrators at muni hall, but, with the help of now-retired municipal official Cliff Jennings (who was part of the original AWARE group but had to back out due to conflict of interest with his muni position), Whistler’s first municipal recycling system came on board through the early 1990s.

In 1990 Ken Melamed became AWARE’s president, and with the success of its recycling campaign, the organization’s focus shifted to habitat conservation. Coinciding with North American economic recovery starting in the late 1980s, this period saw another boom cycle of development in the valley. Vancouver-based Intrawest entered the Whistler scene, Upper Village was built, and development proposals were expanding throughout the valley.

And thus, AWARE took it upon themselves to act as stewards of our valley’s important wildlife habitat and sensitive ecosystems. It was these prominent environmental campaigns that helped lead Ken (and others) into an even more prominent role in local politics as a councillor and later mayor. But we’ll let Ken tell that part of the story.

Make sure to pick up tickets before this sells event out, it promises to be a compelling and informative presentation. We’ll check back in next Saturday with a recap of Ken’s talk, and we’ll continue this story with some of AWARE’s more recent work.

Mar 2013 SS Poster-small


When: Wednesday, March 20th; Doors at 6pm, show 7pm-9pm
Where: Whistler Museum
Who: 19+
Cost: $7 regular price, $5 for museum members

To purchase tickets (seating is limited), call the Whistler Museum at 604.932.2019, or visit us at 4333 Main Street, just behind the library.

There will be a cash bar featuring the Whistler Brewing Company and Jackson Triggs Wines, as well as complimentary coffee served courtesy of the Whistler Roasting Company and teas from Namasthé.

Speaker Series – Ken Melamed on Whistler’s Conservation History

A mallard duck enjoys some of Whistler's prime wetland. Photo: Bob Brett

A mallard duck enjoys some of Whistler’s prime wetland. Photo: Bob Brett

It is easy to take Whistler’s natural splendour for granted. A closer look, however, reveals that it is only thanks to a number of thoughtful, committed people that so much has been preserved for future generations. One of these figures is Ken Melamed.

Ken moved here in 1976 to live the ski bum’s life as a young patroller. Since Ken has called Whistler home since before the village was built and we became a global destination, he’s witnessed first-hand this valley’s massive development in the intervening decades.

Meanwhile, the environmental movement was gathering momentum around the globe, and so did it gain prominence in Whistler as well. Sustained, and, at times, reckless development throughout the 1980s increasingly galvanized residents around the need to fight back to protect our local environment.

One of the many wetlands that AWARE has helped protect over the years. Photo: Bob Brett

One of the many wetlands that AWARE has helped protect over the years. Photo: Bob Brett

Ken was at the forefront of this grassroots awakening, helping found the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) in 1989. AWARE soon took on several key habitat protection initiatives such as the Emerald Forest, Fitzsimmons Fan, and, most controversially, old-growth forest stands in the Elaho Valley.

Ken Melamed

Ken Melamed

It was Ken’s environmental advocacy that raised his profile in the community and led him into municipal politics as a councilor in 1996, then mayor in 2005. Throughout this period he continued to champion principles of sustainability and leveraged Whistler’s growing profile to extend our community’s environmental influence well beyond municipal confines.

Always an engaging speaker, for his presentation Ken will return to his environmentalist roots, providing an insider’s perspective on the major conservation campaigns that he contributed to over the years. This evening presents a chance to learn the back story of our local environmental movement and engage in a discussion of what the future might hold for our region’s natural spaces. Please join us for this enlightening session.


Mar 2013 SS Poster - small

When: Wednesday, March 20th; Doors at 6pm, show 7pm-9pm
Where: Whistler Museum
Who: 19+
Cost: $7 regular price, $5 for museum members
Saving the forest and the trees (and the marshes, and the meadows…)

To purchase tickets (seating is limited), call the Whistler Museum at 604.932.2019, or visit us at 4333 Main Street, just behind the library.

There will be a cash bar featuring the Whistler Brewing Company and Jackson Triggs Wines, as well as complimentary coffee served courtesy of the Whistler Roasting Company and teas from Namasthé.


Presenter’s Bio: Since 1976 Ken Melamed has been active in the mountain resort community of Whistler. Ken was a founding director and president of the local environment group AWARE, municipal councilor, and mayor. He led the community through a period of intense strategic planning and rigorous pursuit to sustainability principles, guided Whistler 2020, the community’s long-term sustainability vision, for which he was a principle champion. Ken was born in Philadelphia, became a Canadian in 1971, is married and has two sons. He is an avid mountain biker, skier, speaks French and plays guitar.

About Whistler Museum’s Speaker Series: More than mere repositories of old stuff, museums are institutions of ideas, venues where communities share, debate, and explore their thoughts on the world at large. To that end the Whistler Museum hosts regular Speaker Series events featuring presentations on a diversity of subjects: from the usual suspects of mountain culture and adventure travel, to the environment, design, current events, and beyond. These events are hosted on the third Wednesday of the month, October through April (minus December), and present the perfect opportunity for locals and visitors alike to encounter compelling stories in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. All Speaker Series events have a cash bar and are 19+.