Letters to the editor for the week of August 14th 

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Stick to Tiny Town, Max

I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of recent letters clarifying support for Israel's actions in the latest conflict. I thought to myself "good on Pique's editorial team — they tend to the left narrative — but gave a voice to the counterpoint." Then I got to good old Max. I've been a reader for years — generally entertained, mostly (as I'm not exactly on the left) in agreement. But on this one, please, Max — stick to the tribulations of Tiny Town.  

You paint yourself as unbiased — or undecided. I'm OK with that. Israel/Palestine —from your perch on the lake, who's to know who is in the right? But benefit of the doubt to Hamas? If this is meant to be funny, you're way off base on a group of openly genocidal murderers who hold their own people hostage and revel in their stated love of death, preferably for the Jews. 

You digress into moral equivalency and "Israel's atrocities," showing you have bought into the awful propaganda images hook, line and sinker. This is a terrible war that is being fought and innocents get killed. But they are not the targets. People like you are being suckered, taking the imagery at face value without looking any deeper. 

And then the clincher — let's give up and move the Jews out. This is incredible — let's destroy a successful modern democratic country and ship out six million people, most of whom originally came from persecution and exile and have lived there for multiple generations — from Holocaust Europe, and places like the Arab states, Ethiopia, Russia — and plunk them in Florida? To allow homicidal radical Islam to take over? 

So imagine you're having a beer at "Tel-Aviv Tapley's," and the sirens go off, and you have 15 seconds to get to cover — reflect on that. And now consider, perhaps, how you should count your blessings for where we are and what we have, and not have the audacity to preach about those who have built a vibrant country under the guns of genocidal hatred.

David Fox


Waiting for Part II

Now that Max has come out about his religious orientation he is one of two "nones" I know in Whistler. There must be others since 20 per cent of all Americans and 33 per cent of under-30s have come out as "nones." This is good for it might allow humanity to survive, if there is time, because discarding religions is one of the actions we can take that reveal the way of living which would allow even Israelis and Palestinians to co-exist in the Middle East. Max wisely qualified "religious reasoning" because it is as oxymoronic as "military intelligence." 


Religion is a human "wrong"

With which we try to fill the void.

Humanity will not survive

Unless religions we avoid.

While hanging on to our beliefs

To others we cannot "...reach out...,"

Depriving us of nourishment

For life, we cannot do without.

Religions aren't the source of all

The traits that we consider good,

Or motivation making us

"Do unto others..." as we should.

Good traits and motivations are

What let humanity survive

Until the point in history

Religions started to arrive.

Since then religions have decreased

The "right" that made humanity.

By just discarding them we can

Return to how we used to be,

One group of individuals

In common cause we all applaud,

Becoming what we each can be

Thus making up the face of God.

I'll wait to judge Max's proposed idea that Israel be moved to Florida. I suspect it will be humorous nonsense but it could be just as useful as serious sense.

Doug Barr


Carnage in Gaza

There are brutal thugs on both sides of the conflict in Gaza, but two photographs taken during one of the ceasefires highlight the difference between the Israeli and Palestinian experience of the carnage.

The photograph taken in Israel showed sunbathers back on the beaches, enjoying the weather. The photograph from Gaza showed a woman picking through the body parts and rubble of what had once been her home and neighbourhood.

I'm afraid the scope of death and destruction in Gaza has turned the phrase "Israel Defense Forces" into an oxymoron. They have always been proficient at killing their enemies. They now excel at making new ones.

And where does Canada, that once proud nation of peacekeepers, stand in all this? We offer helmets and vests to the Ukraine to protect their soldiers, but shrug at the horrific deaths and injuries of thousands of unarmed, innocent Palestinian civilians.

It seems Mr. Harper only considers it injustice if it happens to people who fit his personal religious and moral code. How far we have fallen.

Van Clayton Powel


Thanks for full-flight services at heli-pad

Whistler Search and Rescue Society and all the outdoor enthusiasts who love to visit and reside here in Whistler, wish to acknowledge and thank both VCH (Vancouver Coastal Health) and the RMOW (Resort Municipality of Whistler) for working together to restore full medical flight services to and from the medical clinic. We all really appreciate your efforts.

Brad Sills

WSAR Society

Dog park sunbathers, mellow out

Lately, I have seen a lot of you in the dog park (Barking Bay), setting up camp with your giant umbrellas, day tents, pi cnics, toddlers, even infants! I also see you become outraged when dogs in the off-leash dog park tumble past you as they play. News flash, it's a dog park — a space for dogs to run off leash as they play and socialize with each other.

If you want to sprawl out and sunbathe, or want a mellow, relaxing time at the beach with your pup... call me crazy, but perhaps the main beach or backfield is, perhaps, a more suitable place for you to go. Or stay. But don't get angry at the dogs or their owners when you're sprawled out and get run into. The dog parks are the only designated areas dogs can play off-leash, so let them have their space! There are plenty of other areas for us humans.

Tom DaviesWhistler

MP disagrees on LNG

In response to the West Vancouver council vote to ban the passage of LNG tankers in Howe Sound, and as the member of Parliament for West Vancouver and the rest of our magnificent riding, I disagree with the motion, the way it has been passed, and its timing. I admire the mayor and council of West Vancouver and work with them regularly. I applaud their energy and genuine commitment to the interests of our community. In fact, I have never previously written publicly to challenge one of their decisions or actions.

Elected officials have a duty to wait until they know what the concerns are, how significant they may be, and what can be done to mitigate them. At this time, we have not heard of the council investigating the matter thoroughly or interviewing the proponent, Woodfibre LNG in Squamish. But, on the other side, the proponent is doing much to engage the public in Squamish and elsewhere, preparing for just such an application. Firstly, our community needs to know that the project would be in Squamish and has not yet entered its environmental assessment phase. In fact, the proponent has not even formally filed an application. Secondly, it's one thing to say, "No, not in my backyard." However, it's something else to say, "No, not in someone else's backyard."  LNG promises to bring jobs and economic growth across our whole province. The premier and government of B.C. have committed to LNG as a primary economic driver. If we are to pay for our teachers, our medical services, or welfare and the other good things we love in British Columbia, we do need some level of economic growth. As a British Columbian, I am also concerned about the environmental impact of new industrial developments in our jewel, Howe Sound. However, before I categorize this project as unsound for environmental or safety reasons, I as a politician, or for that matter, a taxpayer in this country, need to understand the facts and have the input of experts. One of the greatest benefits we have had with our focus on the environment is the ability to continuously improve and become more efficient in the use of resources. As a result I am a firm believer that the environment is the economy as I have indicated many times in the House of Commons.

I do know that an LNG plant brings an alternative to coal, and brings more high valued long-term jobs to our riding than a gravel pit, a logging project, or a garbage incinerator.

Therefore, we should not prejudge this project but remain engaged in the process. This, and other industrial projects, should be evaluated one by one, based on facts and science, not presumptions. They should also be part of an overall plan for Howe Sound, a concept that I have championed, and will continue to champion. 

I look forward to the next steps in promoting growth in our riding in a proper, long-term, and sustainable way.

And, once again to Mayor Michael Smith and West Vancouver Council, thank you for your dedication to our community. I just disagree with you in this particular case.

John Weston, M.P.

West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country

Clear data needed to support TFWP

The Whistler and Squamish Chambers of Commerce hosted a roundtable meeting with Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, on Aug. 6 to discuss recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). I would like to thank all neighbouring chambers and the engaged corridor businesses – from Pemberton to Squamish – for attending the roundtable or luncheon following.

Our corridor shared a compelling story with the minister – that we live in a vibrant region generating phenomenal tax revenue, that we have hard-working entrepreneurs who want to work with government and that we have an urgent need for workers, foreign or domestic.

We were also very clear on another key point: that we understand every effort must be made to hire Canadians first and mechanisms like the TFWP are to be utilized as a limited and last resort. "Every effort" includes making sure we pay competitive, livable wages to attract and keep Canadians.

The data, not our feelings or hunches, tells us we need recruiting options like the TFWP. In 2013 Whistler's unemployment rate was a slim two per cent according to the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Community Life Tracking Survey and in June 2014, the unemployment rate for mainland Southwest (the area Whistler is included in for the TFWP) was measured at 5.7 per cent.  Whistler has an excruciatingly tight labour market that is projected to get even tighter (go2hr predicts a 14,000-person labour deficit for tourism and hospitality positions in B.C. by 2020).  In a Whistler Chamber survey of members, in which 64 local businesses participated, 36 per cent reported temporary foreign workers make up over 30 per cent of their workforce. Without this critical complement of workers we would be unable to offer the exceptional service experience that attracts 2.5 million visitors each year.

If the hard facts fail to communicate the need, simply flip to the back of this news magazine and scan the dozens of job postings that have been open for months. One Whistler business recently said as few as five per cent of the job applicants last winter were Canadian. That business is not alone.  We need more workers in Whistler, period.

The Whistler community wants to put Canadians first and reduce dependency on foreign workers and efforts range from trying to attract First Nations workers to offering outstanding culinary apprenticeship programs aimed at recruiting grads from B.C. educational institutions.  Yet despite phenomenal training programs and recruiting initiatives, certain specialized workers are in finite supply in Canada (like highly qualified snow sport instructors and culinary positions such as chef and sous chef) and we must be able to hire foreign workers to fill these roles when Canadians are not available to cater to our international guests.

Minister Kenney made some significant changes to the TFWP in June. Many of those changes will make operating more difficult for Whistler businesses, but one change was positive: increased monitoring and enforcement when it comes to program compliance. In our ongoing advocacy, one of the policy changes the Whistler Chamber will push for is crisper data — so government can track more specific regional unemployment rates that better reflect market labour conditions, for example.  This will help communities determine their true need and give government the intelligence it requires when tailoring visa programs to suit Canadian businesses. A piece of advice for brands that have possibly built their model around temporary foreign workers: it might be time to rethink your viability.

The Whistler Chamber views the TFWP as just one tool, but an essential one, in our kit to recruit workers. We hope Minister Kenney and the federal government acknowledge not only our unique (and legitimate) labour needs as a seasonal, destination mountain resort but also the tax revenue they stand to lose if we cannot properly staff our businesses.

Val Litwin, CEO

Whistler Chamber of Commerce

What about our Western Toads?

I find it rather frustrating that your headline article from last week (Pique, "A frog for the killing," Aug.7) was published at the exact time that a local amphibian migration event, the Western Toad migration at Lost Lake, is ongoing and raising a lot of interest for both locals and tourists alike. The Western Toad is blue-listed as a species of special concern in our province, due largely to habitat degradation and human development. Amphibians are important indicators of ecosystem health in wetland and forest ecosystems, and are extremely sensitive to habitat loss and pollution.

Here in Whistler, our municipality, along with valuable help from local biologists, naturalists, and citizens, have been working hard to maintain and support the population of western toads that call Lost Lake home.

Currently, this year's toadlets are making their way from the lake, where adults breed and lay eggs in the early spring, to the forest where they will rear and grow before continuing that cycle. There are tens of thousands of tiny (1-2 cm) toadlets migrating through the park, over the Valley Trail network and the park access road through to the forest past Blackcomb Creek. Since only one to five per cent will survive to reproduce, it's very important that we work to minimize our human impact and support their natural migration.

It would be great if the Pique could focus on raising awareness of local wildlife conservation events, as well as regional issues, especially when they are in season. Any support that visitors can provide, such as minimizing driving into the park, walking their bicycles, and helping to raise awareness of the migration event in their own community, is very much appreciated.

Charlotte Whitney


Bear blame game continues

I would like to open by saying I'm not a bear hater. In fact, I enjoy seeing/passing them occasionally. However, I am tired of people being blamed for all the bear conflict and we have to do this, we have to do that. You have to ask yourself — how many bears is the valley capable of sustaining naturally? As a reference, National Geographic had an article on Russian bears that each needed a square km of natural foraging to survive. As the bear population continues to increase, the possibility of a "serious" conflict arises. 

Jim Kennedy


Bears can co-exist in Whistler

I read with sadness the accounts every summer of bears being killed by conservation officers. It seems the real issue here is humans' fear of the bears.

Living in a wilderness setting, one is living in the home of these wild animals and must use one's own animal instincts to avoid conflict. The instinct to live in peaceful harmony comes to mind, as other wild animals must do to cohabitate in the bush.

I raised my son in Whistler. We lived in a cabin on Westside Road (now Alta Lake Road) and were quite used to the bears in the valley. My son walked home from Myrtle Phillip School along the trail and passed a bear standing in the trees very close; he just kept going and the bear did nothing.

I grew a garden and had a compost pile and never saw a bear show any interest in it.

There was an apple tree growing next to the stairs that led up from our cabin. Each year a bear would come and climb that tree and eat the apples. I walked by it on my way to work each day and it stayed a whole week 'til all the apples were gone. Amusingly, I developed photos of that bear at my job for Whistler One Hr. Photo, taken by tourists who stayed at the nearby hostel.

Recently, I was in the village of D'Arcy and observed a woman working out in her garden; she let me know there was a mother with cubs just behind her bushes and not to go that way with my dog. She kept gardening.

My point is, we can coexist with these marvellous creatures and many old-time locals in the valley know this.

I wish the "knee-jerk" reaction to shoot them dead would just stop. We can do better than that.

Sharon Bishop


Orienteering National Champs

Whistler hosted the Canadian national orienteering champions Aug. 1 to 5. Orienteering is a cross-country running race, usually held in forested terrain, in which runners must visit a number of checkpoints between the start and the finish lines. Different courses are designed to be appropriate for age classes, which start at under-12 and stretch to over-85.

The national championships included six races over a period of five days, including races in the One Duck Lake forest area, Whistler Village, Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain, and Lost Lake Park. Altogether over 400 people from 12 countries came to Whistler for five days to compete in the races and many stayed on following the races to participate in a three-day national junior training camp held at the Whistler Athletes' Centre.  The competitors' feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and they are looking forward to returning to Whistler for more races, and more time to take in all that Whistler has to offer.

The championships were organized by the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club and the Orienteering Association of BC. It was 100 per cent volunteer run, with many volunteers committing hundreds of hours to make the races run smoothly. We volunteers greatly appreciate the support of the community, and in particular would like to thank the dedicated staff at the RMOW, Whistler Blackcomb, Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre and the Whistler Athletes' Centre, as well as the Pique, and the residents of Emerald Estates for their support of this event.

Thank you!

Adrian Zissos

Orienteering Festival director



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