Letters to editor for the week of January 7th 

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Rail: The alternative to the highway of death

An old friend, who just relocated from having lived in a mountain town for many years, had heard the snow was pumping at Whistler and wanted to get in on the early season action. My buddy flew in to YVR and rented a vehicle to drive up to Whistler as it was cheaper than the bus fare. The good folks at the car rental agency actually laughed when he requested snow tires or chains upon arrival; apparently such things do not exist on your average rental car at YVR unless you rent a full-size SUV and even then, it's a special order. Kind of dumb considering most of YVR's winter travel is to Whistler.

Anyway, my buddy made it up to Whistler with no problems, but ended up stuck in my driveway on his return trip and was forced to ski another pow day as travel on the highway would have been a disaster without snow tires or chains. My friend knew better than to drive an econobox with all season tires down the road, but the problem of ignorant people out driving Highway 99 with no snow tires or chains in the winter has become epidemic. It's dangerous enough even without any snow! Recent deaths, injuries, gridlock and road closures are a glaring sign that we need to come up with an alternative plan to the status quo because it just ain't workin'!

This town was put on the map by passenger rail from Vancouver, so why not take a trip back in time and use the rail infrastructure already in place to ferry tourists up from the city? Get the damn buses, rental cars and idiots without proper gear off the highway altogether! Even weekenders from Vancouver could take advantage of rail travel. What better way to enjoy the epic scenery on your Whistler vacation than sitting on a train rather than doing the white-knuckle death grip, fearing for your life or just plain parked out on the highway? Maybe even have a sea bus or ferry from YVR to Squamish and completely eliminate the current mind-numbing gridlocked vehicle route through Vancouver. It's surprising such a progressive-thinking region would not have already figured this sort of thing out. I'm sure people can rattle off dozens of reasons why not, but here are reasons why it's worth considering: Take more pollution-spewing vehicles off the road. Create jobs building out and maintaining the infrastructure. User levy pays for the project over time. Make arrival/departure a more magical experience for tourists. Leave the highway for local traffic commuting to work. Save lives. Why not!?

Toby Salin
Whistler

RCMP Tire Checks on 99

They were out there, late Tuesday morning, Jan. 5th, northbound by the Callaghan, just after the festive season. Fantastic? False!

I want tire checks, don't get me wrong, but Tuesday's checks seemed more like a minimal effort to say that they're doing it, not one to increase safety.

At that time I'm fairly confident to say that most, if not all the people travelling north would be locals or commuters who would be insane to not have winter-rated tires on their vehicles by this point in the season.

As for location, considering there was snow on the road all the way from Squamish, that wasn't great either. If you're going to do checks, what's the point of allowing someone to travel 80 per cent of the way (from Squamish) unsafely before stopping them? Then what? They're stuck at the Callaghan, with potentially a fine, and still no way to get somewhere to remedy the situation safely.

I, we want tire checks, please. When and where is key. Sure, on a busy Friday afternoon north, or Sunday afternoon south, it would create a little congestion. Compare that to a closed highway all day and maybe someone never making it to their destination, a little longer travel time is fine (and welcome!).

Will Charlton
Squamish

Snow tire sensors

With so many accidents on slippery winter roads, it would make sense to have a photo-radar type sensor on the highways where snow tires are required. You get your snow tires put on, and there is a transmitter (or similar) that goes on with them. When the vehicle goes onto a highway that requires snow tires, there is a sensor. No snow tires = no transmitter = the sensor sets off a camera, just like photo radar, and the car owner gets a ticket.  Not only do we get safer roads, the rental car companies have an incentive to put decent tires on their cars and stop gouging travellers for $30 and more a day for snow tires (resulting in people not renting the safe tires). A little Big Brother-ish maybe, and iffy at night or in a big storm, but on the slippery days, the police are too busy to be checking tire tread depth... and even on regular days, they probably have other fish to fry. In B.C. there are areas where you don't need snow tires, but cars should be equipped going into the areas where you do.

Laura Scully
Whistler

Naming Rights Up for Grabs

On behalf of the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Club and Canadian Freestyle Ski Association we would like to thank the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation for committing $300,000 toward the creation of a National Freestyle Training Centre on Blackcomb's Catskinner run. Whether it's arts, sports, community services or just helping where help is needed, it seems that every time a big community project in the Sea to Sky corridor gets off the ground, the WB Foundation has had a hand in getting it going.  So a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible.

In the past the foundation has helped our club with safety equipment, a trampoline, as well as sound and IT equipment, but this commitment has us doing flips! Blackcomb will have a first-class permanent mogul course and airbag training site, right alongside our already world-renowned terrain park and halfpipe, ensuring WB will be a mecca for freestyle skiers. We look forward to being able to host more national and international events here, as well as welcoming teams from across Canada and around the world for training.

We would also like to thank Doug MacFarlane and his team for working so hard to find a suitable location. Thank you Doug Bush and Mick Gannon for your help with surveying and designing several potential sites, as well as to Scott Cordell for his legal expertise, CFSA's Meredith Gardner and the Schwinghammers for their constant support.

Our goal is to raise a further $625,000 to complete the project and we are grateful to Whistler Blackcomb for allowing us to offer naming rights to the centre. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for an individual, family or business passionate about skiing, youth sport or Whistler in general, to help build this legacy. They will be able to play a key part in building future Olympians and supporting young skiers from all over to enjoy this National Training Centre right here in Whistler. Signage for the centre will be a few hundred metres away from the Rendezvous restaurant and the top of the Solar Coaster chair. Millions of people will see the name in print and online when looking at maps of Whistler Blackcomb. 

We are incredibly thankful that the WB Foundation has given us this vote of confidence and gotten us off to such a strong start. For further info, please contact info@whistlerblackcombfreestyle.com.

Julia Smart on behalf of
National Freestyle Training Centre Committee

Paving the parenthood journey

I've met some beautiful people during my motherhood journey. These amazing individuals have seen me at my best and at my worst. We've laughed together, we've cried together. We've shared our battles in the trenches; everything from sleep training methods to deciphering colours of poop to the best wine pairings with a child's temperament (Merlots are very good for coping with tantrums).  

We have been so fortunate to raise our children in Pemberton and be given the chance to meet and gather with other mommas in safe and non-judgmental spaces.  Because of the hard work of our dedicated community groups, they have built us an incredible network for parents to thrive and grow in our little mountain town.

I wanted to give a very special thanks to those below for making my parenthood journey so special:

Leah and Caprii for their ongoing support and hosting the Monday drop-ins; Loralee and the Sea to Sky Community Service staff at Healthy Pregnancy Outreach Program; Nic and the staff at the library for Storytime; Grace from SCSS's Mother Goose program; Donna and Annie at Strong Start; and the staff of SCSS's IDP Program.

And a very special thank you to those who fund these absolutely necessary and incredible programs that make us stronger and healthier parents.  Your generosity does not go unnoticed.   

With incredible gratitude,

Jill Brooksbank, Jim Dunlop & Family
Pemberton, BC

A smile of thanks

The unspoken language of a smile is a beautiful thing.

No matter where we are in the world, a smile is the universal code for happiness.

Here at home, I am beyond elated as my smile has undergone an incredible transformation. Dr. Jay McKenzie, Teresa and Stacey at Whistler Dental have gone above and beyond and have worked diligently to get me a beautiful smile in time for Christmas.

I never realized how much of my happiness was being held back until I was given the gift to unleash it with a perfect smile.

Thank you Dr. McKenzie and Whistler Dental, I am forever grateful. 

Katie McIntyre
Whistler

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