Letter to the editor for the week of August 27th 

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G.D. for prime minister!

I couldn't help but laugh when I read Lisa Haeck's letter (criticizing G.D. Maxwell) in Pique last week (good on the Pique for printing it).

In fact I found her "best-of" compilation, hating on G.D., nearly as entertaining as his weekly column. "Our" PM should be so lucky as to get away with a gentle "screw you" — from anyone.

I believe Mr. Maxwell has displayed a fine example of restrained candour, and is someone that our youth and country should look up to. I will continue to look forward to your column, G.D. You have at least one peanut in the gallery!

Kate Turner
Whistler

Max was telling the truth

Lisa Haeck's response to G.D. Maxwell was hardly less vicious than his attack on our prime minister.

At least Mr. Maxwell was telling the truth, even though most of us would possibly have chosen to couch his tirade in more genteel language.

We cannot refuse to acknowledge that Stephen Harper has caused us to become a scourge around the world, with his denial of climate change, his suppression of proven scientific data and his clandestine ratification of the FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection) with China, which has locked us into the extraction of fossil fuels for at least the next 31 years. (Read Sold Down The Yangtze by Gus Van Harten.)

While other countries have accepted that non-renewable resources are no longer the way of the future, and that we can still provide jobs and a vibrant economy without fracking the earth into oblivion, we in Canada are stuck in the last century without the political will for change.

So where do we go from here? I cannot agree with G.D. Maxwell, that we best ignore some of the nastier elements of the NDP and Liberal parties and vote for one of them just to get rid of Harper. They are all in favour of continuing to extract oil and gas by extreme means, even though, through the pre-election period, they would have you believe they are terribly concerned about climate change.

Elizabeth May is the most brilliant, knowledgeable, articulate politician in Ottawa. She is a woman of integrity who speaks the truth, not spin, and is not now trying to bribe us with hand-outs just to get Green MPs elected. She has new ideas and excellent environmental, economic and social policies. She will fight for people, not the party, will work cooperatively for a better Canada and is very critical of the partisan infighting in parliament that has everything to do with power and little to do with sound policy.

Most importantly, she and our candidate, Ken Melamed, will fight to preserve our vital tourist economy by strongly opposing the LNG plant at Woodfibre, and the "anything but natural" gas that will supply it from northeastern B.C.

Why would we want to settle for less?

We do not know which party will form government, but if there should be a minority government, a few more Green MPs would substantially bolster Elizabeth's clout.

G.D. Maxwell has said before, and he will probably say again ad nauseum, that a Green vote is a wasted vote, but we have to vote for what we truly believe in.

Polls suggest that in our riding the Green vote is increasing rapidly. Following a recent town-hall meeting in Lions Bay with Elizabeth May and Ken Melamed, where it was hoped that 50 to 60 people might attend, 120 showed up, the excitement was palpable and Green signs began to appear on lawns like mushrooms.

Skeptics who still believe that a Green candidate will not get elected need to be reminded that three already have been, and in a previous provincial election in this riding, when a local environmental issue became controversial, the Greens came second, garnering 26.5 per cent of the vote. Now we are dealing with a colossal environmental issue — the survival of our planet. It needs our vote. The Greens need to come first.

Rose Dudley
Lions Bay

Election buffoonery

The election campaign, thus far, has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Few, if any, real issues have been addressed. We have been force-fed nothing but the endless rubbish and drivel that is the Duffy trial.

The current government, besieged by all this nonsense, offers nothing other than the status quo. They will spend billions more fighting terrorism, building more prisons and generally coddling the moneyed elite, ignoring the ever-deteriorating economic backdrop.

The Liberals and NDP have not disclosed anything substantive in their platforms that might give younger and older Canadians some hope for the future. Instead, they feed into the Duffy frenzy hoping to gain power on the low road. Voting for either of these parties is like closing your eyes, holding your nose and going on a hope and a prayer.

As the saying goes, "It's the economy, stupid," and yet nobody has any idea what these misguided politicians stand for in that regard. The Canadian stock market has been in the bottom quartile of performance for the last five years. The price of oil has fallen over 60 per cent in the last year — a huge hit to the economy of Western Canada. The expected benefit of lower gas prices inexplicably hasn't materialized. Why? Because a refinery in Indiana, where we buy most of our gasoline, has gone down.

Now, there's an issue worth talking about. I will vote for the first party who can address this and other more pressing issues.

Enough of this tabloid election.

Paul Hannah
Whistler 

Rooting For the underdog

Competition is a natural part of sport, commerce and politics. The inspiration to succeed may come from a variety of places, but when you are rooting from the sidelines, sometimes it's the underdogs that inspire us to believe we have a fighting chance.

However, to have a fair chance you need to be invited to the party — to be on the playing field with your opponents. Under our Canadian democratic system, you would think that we would invite every candidate to the party. Sadly, this is not the case.

This July, the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and the Green Party went face-to-face in a televised debate hosted by Maclean's magazine. This debate was one of the most-watched, tweeted and talked about on Facebook in the history of all other Canadian debates. The next debate is scheduled on Sept. 17. This event will be co-hosted by The Globe and Mail and Google Canada. Sadly, the Green Party is not invited to this party.

I wrote to The Globe and Mail and asked them why. They replied by saying that their aim is to create a "truly focused discussion about the state of the economy." 

This exclusion of the Green Party shows weakness by the decision-makers. Not only are they making a big mistake that will likely backfire on social media, it's also fundamentally wrong. It's wrong because it erodes democracy by allowing the private sector to play bodyguard on a political event that should be inclusive. It's also wrong because at a time when we have record-breaking low voter turnout we send another strong message to Canadians that our democratic system is flawed — resulting in a contagion of 'what's the point in voting.'

Not allowing Elizabeth May the right to participate in this debate sends the message to Canadians that if you stand out or stand up for something outside traditional norms you will be excluded.

Underdog or not, I think the Green Party has a well-rounded platform that is not just about the environment. To get this message out, party leader Elizabeth May needs to be in all debates in order to share her voice on the economy, foreign policy, infrastructure, social services, the military and veterans, First Nations, and the environment. May needs to be shoulder-to-shoulder with her opponents in an open and fair debate. Anything else is not democracy.

Michelle Neilson
Squamish

Set the record straight on fisheries

John Weston's comments in last week's Pique story titled "Controversial commercial fishery on Howe Sound shut down" highlight how out of touch the Conservative Party is on fisheries management.

Having had countless meetings with John Weston, as part of the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable, I do appreciate the opportunities he's provided to meet with him, fellow Conservative MPs and the fisheries minister. However, in my opinion, concrete action to protect wild salmon never really surfaced.

When I read Weston's comments, which state his "government is fostering a culture where we are continuously improving," I have to shake my head. He goes on to suggest the gutting of the Fisheries Act by the Conservatives improved the focus of the regulation on "fisheries protection."

I have to ask myself, does anybody buy this anymore? West Coast Environmental Law states the Conservatives "gutted fish habitat protections, removed legal protection of some fish species, [and] removed legal protection of over 99 per cent of Canada's lakes and rivers."

The Conservatives also cut Department of Fisheries and Oceans fisheries habitat staff, closing five DFO offices, including one in Weston's riding. Is this good for salmon protection?

They also put the National Energy Board (instead of DFO) in charge of assessing potential impacts from pipelines to fish and fish habitat. This is despite the echo from experts, who stated that the "NEB has no expertise to do this type of work."

And what of the 75 recommendations of the $37 million Cohen Inquiry into the collapse of Fraser River sockeye? Where over 573,381 documents were examined and 133 days of testimony were heard. This unprecedented investigation and its final report and recommendations has been virtually shelved and ignored by the Conservative government. Fraser River Sockeye are on the verge of collapse, with abysmal returns this year. Our local Birkenhead River Sockeye is a shadow of itself.

I just don't see on how things have improved, John Weston. Perhaps you could participate in a public town hall meeting before the election to explain things? Or an all-candidates meeting on wild salmon and habitat?

Dave Brown
Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable
Whistler

Council must keep up with the competition

Re: "Whistler Council et al, Goes to Colorado."   

When first elected to the Whistler council I struggled to define the exact role of the RMOW — Resort Municipality of Whistler. I kept coming back to the "R" — "Resort"— which is what differentiates Whistler from all other municipalities.

The municipality by its mandate has more of a "business mentality and responsibility" than most other resort communities. 

The resort is structured with the role of the RMOW having active connections, including seats on some of the boards of Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb, and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, a unique and finely balanced mechanism.

Whistler, along with several other B.C. tourist-oriented communities, has been the beneficiary of RMI funds (Resort Municipality Initiative). The revenue, generated by a tax on destination room night occupancies, is used to fund, amongst other things, the Festivals Events & Animation (FE&A) committee which brings in some extraordinary events like the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ironman Canada and Crankworx, all engines that drive hotel room nights. 

Both the federal and provincial governments have been, and continue to be, major investors in Whistler, while also being major beneficiaries of the success of Whistler on all fronts, and therefore the competitive competence of the local government is not something to be taken lightly.

The significance of the $1.3 million in tax revenue that goes down the highway daily to Victoria and Ottawa should not be lost on anyone. A walk around town would indicate that a lot of aging infrastructure will need some significant upgrades to stay competitive; we will need more of that $1.3 million to come back up the road to spearhead those initiatives.   

It is incumbent upon the RMOW to stay abreast of our competition, continue to innovate and work hand-in-hand with all levels of government to ensure the money flows both ways.

It is essential that everyone at the table is thinking and moving in the same direction from a planning and business development perspective.

Following the (municipal) election last November, the three new councillors will have the benefit of the experience early in a new four-year term so leverage on the experience will be maximized across the whole team. Whistler is not a regional resort; it cannot be managed with a regional mentality or limited by regional experience. Whistler business leaders are regularly on the road to see what our competition is up to, shouldn't the mayor and council be up to speed as well? This will be a record summer for Whistler but to budget future years against record-breaking weather and a dollar at .67 U.S. would be foolhardy.

Understanding the competition is fundamental to good business.

Roger McCarthy
Whistler

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

In the past, the (resort's) sewer (system) was created by forcing Whistler property owners to pay 50 per cent of the sewer extension costs. Yet some of my neighbours are unhappy being asked to pay much less than 50 per cent.  Owners appear unhappy to have their costs capped at $12,000 or $384,000 of a $3.5 million public works project that could well go over budget. Do not look a gift horse in the mouth. Rather, move into the modern reality that city dwellers have — sewer systems.

About 18 months ago, five Alta Lake property owners negotiated a deal with the RMOW so we could hook-up to the municipal sewer.

We were unhappy that we had to manage the contract and be at risk if the project ran over budget. Yet now we are very happy with the resulting hook up and the convenience of having sewer services like all other Whistler citizens. We appreciate not having the costs of getting our private septic tanks flushed and the septic system breakdowns privately repaired. We had two years to hook up and could have delayed for two years paying the connection fees but all of us did so within three months.

We argued that all Whistler property owners should be entitled to a basic service and RMOW should reduce the risk of polluting Alta Lake. RMOW and council were unsympathetic to our argument that we should pay costs similar to Alpine and Emerald property owners when they hooked up to the sewer. We were then told the budget for all 36 homes on Alta Lake Road was about $30,000 per property owner. We negotiated hard and agreed to pay 50 per cent of the sewer extension cost, which was $25,231 for each property owner.

Yet, according to the Aug. 13 Pique, some of the remaining 32 property owners appear unhappy to be forced to pay $12,000.

 To get a hook-up to the sewer for less than 50 per cent of the cost is a great deal. I wish we all got a grant like the property owners at Emerald and Alpine Meadows, but no grants are forthcoming due to tight provincial and federal budgets. 

Council gave a great break by giving the remaining owners the carrot of much less than a 50 per cent contribution. Stop whining and realize that the sooner we all get hooked up to the sewer, the better. Sewer is a basic service designed to save the environment and protect Alta Lake.

Sure, most Alta Lake owners have good private systems that do not pollute the lake, but they will over time if not properly maintained. A few owners have old non-conforming septic systems but do not have the money or the will to upgrade. Why should the RMOW have to continue with the historic abnormality of 32 lakeshore owners on private septic when the risk of pollution to our natural gem, Alta Lake, is so great?  The RMOW, on our behalf, needs to finish the task of having one integrated sewer system and then maintain it so as to be a proper custodian of Mother Earth. How can we explain in a world-class ski resort that it is logical to allow lake dwellers not to be hooked up to the sewer like everyone else?

I know that that $12,000 will be hard to come up with for some property owners who do not have multi-million dollar homes. For senior owners who cannot pay their contributions, some can defer paying the tax and others can sell their lots for the higher price gained by having sewer hook- up. Let's give the environment a break and have everyone on sewer during the term of the present council. If a pensioner/property owner has a private sewer breakdown it is not irresponsible to use lack of resources as an argument not to repair and allow seepage into the lake. How can that be a reason not to spend $12,000 to hook up and eliminate future environment issues?  Give Mother Earth and this blessed lake a break!

Michael Blaxland
Whistler

Editor's Note: Municipal studies have found no evidence of environmental damage to Alta Lake due to the septic systems on Alta Lake Road. One of the municipal arguments to move ahead with the project is the potential future damage to the lake should any systems fail.

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