I tried. Lord — figuratively speaking — knows I tried. After two weeks of, let's be generous here and call them downbeat, yes, downbeat columns, I really wanted to simply entertain this week. Maybe a cute dog and cat story. A post-Valentine tale of looking for love in all the wrong places. A humourous birthday story, since it's my birthday.
But noooooooooo. Some people just can't let that happen. They have to choose now to do things so inexplicably simple-minded, so misguided, so, well, dumb, I can't wait until next week to say, "WTF, people!" Is this the best you can do? Really?
First and most egregious on the list is Vancouver Coastal Health. I have the highest regard for the vast majority of front-line health care people I've come into contact with over the years. They remind me of most of the front-line folks I've worked with in various jobs I've held — overworked, underpaid, intensely customer focused, proud, and labouring under challenging conditions largely "engineered" by the dolts higher up, the ones in management and administration.
Had the project management team responsible for the Whistler Health Care Centre's helipad upgrade been the ones trying to get Whistler mountain developed in the 1960s, we'd all still be skiing at Grouse and this would be a quaint, undeveloped fishing resort. To say they screwed the pooch is an insult to all pooch screwers. The cost, delays and seemingly total lack of understanding of what they were trying to accomplish is breathtaking.
After all the efforts, all the delays all the "unforseen" problems, we have a helipad where can land twin-engine helicopters. But we can't land single-engine machines and no one except VCH knows whether they give a damn about that.
Why is it important? Let me try to explain it as though I was talking to a five-year-old. If I do that, just maybe the management of VCH can understand it, although I have my doubts.
People get hurt on Whistler and Blackcomb. Some can be brought down by toboggan, loaded in ambulances and sent to WHCC. Many have to be packed into a helicopter because of the extent of their injuries and/or the inaccessibility of their location.
When people are hurt in the backcountry, Whistler Search & Rescue almost always extracts them by helicopter. They did so 31 times in the past year. Three times they were able to land at WHCC's helipad. The other 28 times, they had to fly to the municipal heliport north of Emerald. The extra time it takes to fly those couple of kilometres north, load injured people into an ambulance, drive them back to WHCC and dash them into emergency where all that lifesaving equipment and doctors are awaiting them is between 30-40 minutes. When you've crushed your chest or you're bleeding badly or someone's giving you CPR that is a very, very long time and may be the difference between life and death.
There may well have been three cases since last summer where people who died might not have if the pilots of the single-engine helicopter they were being transported in had been able to land at WHCC. They were obviously very injured and it cannot be said they'd have survived anyway.
But that's not the point, is it?
The point is, it's going to happen. Somebody, probably more than one somebody, is going to die because their pilot can't land at WHCC and their lifesaving treatment is delayed.
So, the question I'd like to ask of the management of VCH is this: How many people are going to have to die before we see some action? How big a body count do you need to be shamed into finishing this job? Five? Ten? Twenty?
And to our MP, John Weston — John, could you please intervene with Transport Canada. Their requirements, ostensibly in the name of safety, may make perfect sense if WHCC were operating, say, a commercial heliport. But they're not. Since 1994 there have been zero injuries and no remarkable incidents landing single-engine choppers on the old helipad.
This is a classic case of bureaucratic think, which is to say, a one-size-fits-all rule that doesn't allow for deviation. This is the same kind of reasoning that makes Whistler treat water that doesn't need treating. Every jurisdiction is assumed to be Walkerton, Ontario. We have to treat our water as though we have pig farms or cattle feedlots in the watershed.
Any chance of getting a little more nuanced, guys? Same question: What body count will be enough for you to promulgate more sensible rules?
Okay, enough on that. I have no reason to believe VCH or Transport Canada has any intention of pulling their heads out of the sand.
I do still hold out hope for our very own town council though. Specifically, guys, really? Plastic bags again?
Even the Grade 6 class that started this latest round when they approached the mayor have backed off the whole banning alternative. It's dumb. It's ineffective. And it's the worst kind of greenwashing.
And if all that weren't enough, don't you really think staff has better things to do with its time? I mean, I've looked at the RMOW Corporate Plan and it seems to me like there are a lot more important things to be accomplished.
But let's say, for the sake of argument, you feel absolutely compelled to do something greenish. Ban plastic shopping bags? That is so lame, especially in light of all the heavy-duty plastic garbage bags the town uses every day, many of which aren't even close to being full when you replace them.
Our environmental challenge isn't an ocean of plastic. It's not streets and neighbourhoods festooned with wind-blown plastic bags. It's climate change, global warming. If you want to do something that's more than just symbolic why not take aim at, for instance, all those retail shops throughout the village that keep their doors open all winter long, lest some braindead potential shopper mistake them for closed? What's the GHG effect of heating the outside air?
Or if you don't feel the stones to take on retail, how about all those patio heaters I see running when no one's sitting under them?
Really girls and boys, you've been doing a wonderful job. Why let yourself get sidetracked on some meaningless Quixotic misadventure now? Are you bored? Lost interest in some of the bigger challenges? Already figured out a way to get our reserves back up? Solved the Alta Lake Road sewer challenge in a way that won't bankrupt the people living there? Developed guidelines so the FE&A funding process decisions and reasons therefore can see the light of day instead of being Star Chamber opaque?
Please get back to the real work still undone. Thank you.
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