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Letters to the editor for the week of November 14th

Fair treatment for all This letter was addressed to Minis ter of the Environment, Mary Polak, and forwarded to Pique for publication.

Fair treatment for all

This letter was addressed to Minister of the Environment, Mary Polak, and forwarded to Pique for publication.

We are a group of clubs and organizations that represent thousands of people who are passionate outdoor enthusiasts and Garibaldi Park stakeholders, and we are writing to you today to express our deep concern regarding the completion and subsequent release of the document, the Garibaldi Park Management Plan update for the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges. 

This document was in many ways triggered by the proposal to build the Spearhead Huts system ( presented to BC Parks over three years ago by the Spearhead Huts Committee (a coalition of several groups). During this process there was exhaustive public and stakeholder input to review the current management plan and anticipate the future needs, desires and interests of the public balanced with the need for stewardship and protection within the park.

The process was expertly handled by the BC Parks staff despite, as you well know, extremely limited resources. The community was very engaged and motivated to take the opportunity to comment on this plan. Turnout at public meetings and written submissions was extraordinary.

All of us have been waiting for over a year for this report. We were assured that these final amendments to the Garibaldi Park Management Plan were supposed to be released last April! Our concern is that the final report, which has been finished for many months, now, has still not been released to the public or any other stakeholder group.

However, we know that Whistler Blackcomb/Whistler Heli Skiing (WB/WHS) has had the unique benefit of seeing and commenting on this report in advance of all the other stakeholders that participated in the process. 

We cannot understand how this serves the principles of fair public engagement and due process. We cannot understand why this report is now delayed again. We cannot understand why one commercial interest, WB/WHS, the lone commercial motorized operator that apparently had something to lose in this process, has somehow had the ability to gain advantage and insight where no other has.

Specifically, the area referenced in this amendment represents a very, very narrow commercial value with questionable economic benefit to the community, the B.C taxpayers and public at large, as the heliskiing tenure represents approximately two per cent of WB/WHS total heli tenure! Therefore the loss or reduction of this commercial tenure could hardly be described as having any significant impact to its commercial interest.

It begs the question, "What was in the language, in the amendments, that WB/WHS felt was potentially so onerous that they have lobbied to send this final report back — despite the overwhelming public opinion and comment during the process that heliskiing in the park should be curtailed or stopped all together?

As such, this perversion of the process creates a huge advantage for WB/WHS to advance its commercial interests to the ministry in the absence of any other stakeholder voices to the contrary.

So given the stakes involved, the interest for all of our members of the representative groups, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the public at large, we would ask the ministry to immediately release this finished report, so that the rest of the stakeholders can see it, and we can all move forward with our continuing work with the BC Parks staff and finalize the amendments to the Management Plan. 

Our thousands of members and the public are waiting for this report... the same version that Whistler Blackcomb/Whistler Heli Skiing had the privilege of seeing.

Jayson Faulkner on behalf of the Alpine Club of Canada - Whistler Section

Alpine Club of Canada - Vancouver Section

Alpine Club of Canada - National 

Friends of Garibaldi Park

Federation of Mtn. Clubs of BC

British Columbia Mountaineering Club

Spearhead Huts Committee

Garibaldi plan needs fact-based decision

It's nice to see the season shaping up nicely, here from sunny Las Vegas, and I'm looking forward to coming home to sample the early season, world-class backcountry terrain off the lifts of Blackcomb.

Equally satisfying is seeing the Pique pursuing the curious and troubling back-room influences of Whistler Blackcomb and its heliskiing tenure within the park.

To date, neither (WB's) Doug Forseth, Whistler Heliskiing management nor BC Parks has bothered to explain beyond some vague and frankly ludicrous claims of economic hardship the need to continue plaguing the Spearhead range with their infernal combustion engines.

Don't get me wrong — I fully sympathize with the potential loss of such a gravy train and the catastrophic necessity for them to more fully utilize their vast tenure outside the park, but consider this for a moment:

1) more than a few other operators demonstrate that this is possible every season.

2) the parkland it currently claims represents a singularly unique value that is rare. In southwest B.C. you can count the number of ski-touring areas that require only a daypack and a set of legs on one hand. Most of those are mediocre in quality or quantity and only one allows a start anywhere close to tree line let alone 2,250 metres above sea level.

3) this one area is the Spearhead, where Whistler Blackcomb would prefer to heliski. This is a provincial park, one of the very few places where noise from machinery should not be expected.

I would like to challenge Doug Forseth — or anyone else who reads these letters — to explain with something empirical how it is that leaving the Spearhead to the non-motorized recreationist will cause such tragic economic hardship to WB's profitable enterprise.

Yes, that's right — I suggest that such a preemption of such a uniquely protected public wilderness asset requires a full public fact-based explanation. BC Parks and our noble Ministry of the Environment don't think so, but no doubt Forseth — a man of ethics and community service — would agree.

Bruce Kay


On ski towns and Peter Pans

I've heard a lot of talk about Peter Pans in Whistler lately. In Michel Beaudry's piece on Amanda Stocks (Pique, Nov.7), the local barber says that "Whistler is full of Peter Pans . . . and I'm their Wendy." She also talks about how it makes her a little sad, as they get older and lonelier.

In Alison Taylor's feature piece (Pique, Nov.7), "Searching for The Good Life" the author doesn't explicitly use the term Peter Pan, but says that psychotherapist Greg MacDonnell "agrees that Whistler often attracts people who may be looking to find something or running away from something else," and that young adults are "here to have fun" and to "make the most of a hiatus from the real world."

Up until two weeks ago, I was dating an Australian ski instructor for four and a half years. I've been to resort towns in the United States, Canada, and Australia, but I had never heard the term Peter Pan before. When I heard it here, however, something clicked.

The metaphor makes perfect sense. Peter Pan never wants to grow up. He is smart, confident, knows his world, and wants to have fun. Of course, there are plenty of female Peter Pans out there too. In a ski town, they have everything they want. Why would they give that up to pursue the same amount of joy through much more effort? Why trade powder days for a "9-5 job?"

The answer to this question lies in a short story I read when I was young. In it, several families enjoy fun lives living on houseboats. One day, most of them decide to sell their boats and move into low quality houses they can barely afford. One family decides to stay on the boat and have fun, while the other families gradually save and work hard until they live in nicer houses. Eventually the boat becomes unsustainable and the family must buy a small, undesirable house. They follow the same path their friends did, but are behind.

The lesson here is that you can't run away from life. It will always catch up to you. My ex and a lot of our friends have been chasing winters for over six years now, but they haven't been partying the whole time. Most have built successful careers in the resort industry, and most are planning exit strategies. One friend went back to his engineering career after 10 years, while another wants to be a physio therapist.

Of course, many would argue that living in a ski town is its own life style. Whistler has many permanent residents after all, and many seasonal jobs are deceptively sustainable as life-long careers. I know an Australian ski instructor who is about to retire with pensions in both Australia and the U.S., and I'm sure there are plenty of Peter Pans out there who in no way regret their choice of lifestyle.

I suppose it comes back to Alison Taylor's article and Greg MacDonnell's admonition that we need to make our search for happiness intentional. Life is an adventure, and it's good to have a little Peter Pan in all of us, but we must remember not to get stuck in Never Never Land.

Teresa Matich


Lest we forget

I read your Nov. 7 Opening Remarks entitled "Is Remembrance Day still meaningful?" As a veteran (Vietnam 1968 and 1969 U.S.M.C. infantry), I was appreciative of the issues you raised, particularly how the current Conservatives government of Canada has seemingly forgotten, minimized and/or marginalized those who have served all of us as a nation and as a people.

It is clear that many of our veterans have suffered legitimate physical and/or psychological disabilities, many of which will be suffered lifelong. It is also sad to hear that a number of veterans have recently come forward in stress because they were discharged from service months prior to becoming qualified for a pension.

Likely, there are many more who have accepted their fate in silence. 

You conclude your article by stating, "On November 11, and every day, let's hope our government remembers that Remembrance Day is still meaningful... to many people." Canadians should not have to "hope" that our politicians remember.

On Nov. 11, each politician will likely be front and centre at their local cenotaphs in front of veterans and voters who elected them. Each official will likely look genuinely sad and humble when they bend down and lay a wreath in remembrance. Perhaps they should ask themselves if this is just a photo-op type situation, or if they are truly doing it in honour of those who have died and those who have served their country and have suffered?

If the latter, they should be remembering every day, as you suggest, and ensure that our veterans truly are remembered, respected and given the necessary help from the Canadian people, so they may live out their lives in the dignity they deserve.

I think something can be gleaned from Canadian Lt. Col John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields. Without trying to be critical, I feel compelled to point out that you have made a factual mistake regarding perhaps one of the most well-known and often-cited poems amongst the peoples of the western world. While not a fundamental mistake, it was not written after World War I (1914-1918) as you have stated. 

Lt. Col. John McCrae was the medical officer in charge of a forward field hospital near the front lines of the Western Front on the fields of Flanders in the Flemish part of Belgium where some of the greatest battles and losses occurred for many armies, including the Canadians. On May 3, 1915, McCrae presided over the funeral services of his former medical student, and then friend and fellow doctor, Lt. Alexis Helmer, who was killed in action, during the Second Battle of Ypres. It was while McCrae was sitting on the tailgate of a field ambulance near the front-line trenches, in bleak surroundings and with a heavy heart that he was inspired to, and did write, "In Flanders Fields" that day. The poem was first officially published later that year. Sadly, McCrae died of pneumonia while still serving overseas on Jan.28, 1918.

In the context of your article perhaps McCrae's poem is still meaningful. The torch has been passed to each of us — to hold high. We have a moral responsibility to do so. If we break faith by simply doing nothing, we will not have honoured those who sacrificed for us even if we all wear poppies once a year.

As such, we must not just "hope our government remembers." McCrae challenges us to stand up for our veterans and their families.

If three recently disgraced senators are entitled to have their full medical benefits continued and their accumulation of pensions continue, surely our men and women who have served and sacrificed with honours and who now suffer, should be given their proper respect and be treated fairly for as long as they live and are buried.

Everyone who in deed does nothing brings shame to themselves and all Canadians.

Dana Urban


Keep Whistler wonderful

The RMOW has to ask itself what kind of sustainable development it wants to add to our beautiful resort town.

Is it something infringing on reducing wetlands, adding 3,000+ cars and city-style rush hours and more pressure on energy and waste management resources for the next 30 years — or is there a better use of the valley's scarce resources.  

(Whistler International Campus) is a huge development for the resort and the council needs to assess whether this project is one they want to support in a resort that already has too many cars, too-long fuel lines and city-like daily traffic congestion and accidents.

We need to attract visitors who come to Whistler to stay in the hotels and park-up for much of their stay, or travel by train and use local buses. We need to keep Whistler an outstanding world-class resort and a great and enjoyable place to visit and stay.

My vote would be keep Whistler wonderful, leave the university campus in the city and invite the students and lecturers up to Whistler for their vacations — let's not turn the valley into a city suburb.  

Carl Ryder


Wetlands need protection from WIC

According to the proponents of the suggested Whistler International Learning Campus (WIC) their development would come at no cost to the Whistler Community. Whistler's environmental group AWARE invites community members to think differently.

To be clear AWARE is not opposed to the concept of a university should the community decide this is appropriate to the future of Whistler. However, we strongly believe the site proposed for WIC is of too great an ecological value for the community to loose.

It is widely publicized that the WIC proposal would not seek to develop the wetlands themselves ,but concentrate development to the upland areas. However, it would be hugely negligent for us to consider these upland areas in isolation from the environmentally sensitive and complex wetland ecosystems that they sustain. With over 70 per cent of Whistler's valley bottom wetlands now gone, it is even more important to protect the ecology and diversity of this area.

For over 20 years the community and multiple councils have recognized the ecological importance of the Zen-owned site, despite various proposals for development. AWARE has continually maintained its position: that the wetlands and upland areas be considered an inter-connected ecosystem, which remains undeveloped (inclusive of those uplands proposed for WIC).

With current site zoning allowing four single-family dwellings we have respectfully requested that mayor and council resist any further up zoning of the land.

The following points provide additional background to this long running debate:

•The community has repeatedly recognized the importance of this site throughout the OCP and W2020 processes, with clear understanding that the uplands and wetlands are symbiotic.

•The OCP is explicit in the commitment to limit development to the least environmentally sensitive lands within Whistler.

•The independent Protected Areas Network (PAN) process and municipal Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping both recognize the importance of the site as the only intact wetland / upland ecosystem of its magnitude remaining in the Whistler valley.

•This site was one of only two sites allocated PAN1 zoning through the Protected Areas Networks research and resulting strategy. A designation only assigned to the areas of highest habitat and biodiversity value.

•Adopting a precautionary principle AWARE believes there is not adequate understanding of the ecology, species diversity and connectivity relating to the proposed site.

•The WIC proposal with nearly a million square feet of developed space, servicing 1,400 students and 400+ staff, would have a vastly increased environmental impact on the site than four, single-family homes for which the site is zoned.

Whistler has already lost most of its wetland complexes to developments such as Nicklaus North Golf Course and subdivision, the Whistler Golf Course, Nesters Transit Yard, as well as areas of White Gold, Spruce Grove, Millar's Pond and Tapley's.

Consequently, AWARE invites the community to consider the value of the WIC site not in dollars and cents, but as an at-risk habitat that supports a great diversity of plants and wildlife, both of which are increasingly marginalized in our small resort town. If a university is deemed a priority then let's go for it — but let's find a more appropriate site.

We invite those who are interested in continued discussion to visit a new Facebook page we have created specific to this issue, access it through our existing AWARE Whistler Facebook or our website

Claire Ruddy for the Board of Directors AWARE


Good Karma?

On Thursday, Nov. 7, you took my wife's new snow tires on rims, which I had just painfully finished installing all of the studs on.

I live in Tapley's Farm and being the trusting family neighbourhod that we have always been for the past 33 years, I left them leaning up against my garage door so that I could install them on my wife's car when she got home. I got home after work that night in the dark and they were gone. The first feeling that came to mind was of feeling incredibly violated.

For good Karma, swing by and just dump them in my driveway, no questions asked. Or better yet, just leave them somewhere safe and call my cell (604-966-1094) from a payphone and leave me a message where I can go and pick them up.

Good Karma or bad Karma? The choice is yours.

Anton Horvath


Sensible BC?

A few weeks ago I read a piece about Sensible BC and that Hempire was organizing a signing station at Black's Pub. I went there to add my name to the list of those seeking a referendum, and was truly disappointed by the number of people who didn't show up.

I want your readers to understand the importance and implications of this petition to inevitably legalize simple possession of cannabis. These signatures that canvassers are collecting are not only for those who are for this amendment to the Policing Act, but also for those who are opposed.

We live in a democracy, which is based on the population having open discussion/debate, and the opportunity to express views through referendums such as this. It allows the entire population of B.C. to put this to a vote. Who knows, the "Nays" might outweigh the "Yeas," so let's see.

If you're still opposed to allowing this democratic process to move forward because your morals suggest that legalization would be harmful to society, I say that by not at least signing, you're actually saying that it's OK for black-market enterprises to target innocent children.

By having the government involved and regulating this billion-dollar industry, much the same as alcohol and tobacco (both of which are much worse than marijuana) our children will be educated about the uses/abuses and deterred because acquiring it will be much more difficult. Sensible?

For those who are God fearing think about this: God created hemp in all its forms for our consumption, not to be prohibited. Not only for medical or social purposes, but for all its other uses.

In closing, I implore every citizen and registered voter in the Sea to Sky and B.C. to sign this petition whether you're for it or against it. Let's see what all citizens of B.C. want. A petition is available to sign at Hempire, which is located next to Garfinkel's in Village North.

Steve Brooks