Letters to the Editor for the week of December 1st 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DIEGO G DIAZ/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • photo by Diego G Diaz/Shutterstock.com

Personal choices matter

My intent in writing this letter is twofold: First of all, I would like to celebrate and thank the people who are making conscious choices to reduce their impact on this Earth.

Most of us are taught the "go big or go home" kind of mentality and it can sometimes feel like we're not doing enough. Maybe we should write a book, make a movie or start a movement so we can have a greater impact.

It's important to remember that in order to be successful, movements require many people supporting them (so we don't all have to start them, showing up is enough). We need people making simple, conscious lifestyle choices.

So to those of you who are always seeking ways to keep reducing your personal impact and joining in the movements to protect nature, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! You do make a difference.

If everyone was more mindful and making conscious, informed decisions, we would be in a way better position as a species.  

Secondly, I want to respond to some of the comments that were made during the discussion that took place after the "Wisdom to Survive" AWARE/library movie screening on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

A few individuals seem to think that we are in need of a transition energy source to meet our demands before being sustained by renewables. One individual suggested that we would all have to live in the dark for a period if we went straight to renewables.

I strongly believe that choosing the "lesser evil" to tide us over is a bad move. We already have infrastructure in place to meet our current energy demands.  If each person became more conscious of their personal consumption choices, we would require much less energy than we currently use.

This could help ease the pressure on our current sources of energy until the infrastructure for renewables is in place. The technology for sustainable energy exists, we just have to invest in it to see it expand and develop.  

The time to change is now. We need a new mindset where each individual becomes accountable. Whether we like it or not, every one of us is making an impact.  With every dollar we spend, we are casting a vote. Are we being mindful of what we're investing in/voting for?

Our leaders won't promote change if they don't think people want it. Making more conscious choices reduces the impact on the system and sends a signal to our policy makers that we want sustainable living options.

Some people in this world don't even have access to energy at all, and we can't take the bus or walk instead of driving?  

It's time to wake up and start being the change!

There are so many ways in which an individual can lessen their personal impact (food, transportation, investments, daily spending habits, waste reduction, writing letters, attending demonstrations etc.), what are you/we waiting for?   

Nalini (Marie Binet)
Whistler

RMOW proactive on asbestos

In the article "Significant gaps in British Columbians' asbestos knowledge" in the Nov. 24 issue of Pique, I was quoted as saying that the RMOW building department was not requiring gyproc to be tested for asbestos in homes pre-1990 until my meeting with them spring 2016.

In fact, the RMOW building inspector advised me at that time that the testing of gyproc was already a requirement for renovation or demolition permits for homes pre-1990. This is reported in the RMOW Hazardous Materials Survey, part of the building permit package.

The building department deserves credit for being proactive on this file.

Steve St. Arnaud
Steve St. Arnaud Contracting Ltd. and Asbestos Free Whistler

Sled Dogs movie not the whole story

Love dogs? Skip the film and go meet a real sled dog.

The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has Sled Dogs on its list of films over the WFF weekend — this caught my interest as I am a fan of this great Canadian tradition.

Oh, but this filmmaker seems to be taking a gruesome and wildly inaccurate, from my experience, picture of this pastime. Shock value? Hand-wringing, uninformed emotional tugging at your heartstrings?

Sled dogs are not pets — they are working dogs. And they love to work!

I recently had a glorious sled ride with Kingmik Dogsled Tours out of Lake Louise. Exhilarating indeed. And the dogs were clearly well loved, well fed, well cared for and doing what they loved to do — and each dog had a name and their personalities were evident and appreciated by the mushers — this stuff shows. The life of the "retired" dogs looked pretty sweet, too.

The tragedy of the Whistler sled dogs (who were killed in 2010) was terrible indeed, but it is not a reflection on the dog sled world across the rest of the province, as this film would lead you to believe.

B.C. has a Professional Mushers Association, which, along with the Ministry of Agriculture, the SPCA, the College of Veterinarians of BC and the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association, has created a comprehensive code of care for sled dogs. It is the law for all kennels in B.C., commercial or otherwise, to be in compliance with the code. Check it out for yourself.

There are a number of ethical and well-managed sled dog operations in our province and I for one am glad they are keeping this tradition alive. Visitors to Canada love it and I can assure you the dogs working there do, too.

Save your money and time and put it towards the real thing.

Vivian Birch-Jones
Lillooet

Make time for school survey

Sea to Sky School District parents will soon have the opportunity to provide thoughts on a school calendar for 2017 to 2020.

In the past, Whistler and Pemberton parents have typically voted for (what I think is a smart) school calendar that avoids breaks during some peak travel times enabling those working in the tourism industry to make money when it is busy and to save money by travelling when costs are less, or to just stay home to watch the kids.

A calendar with this configuration can also support better learning retention if it includes frequent shorter breaks (one week instead of two) in general and especially a shortened summer break from nine to six weeks. Unfortunately, this type of calendar has not yet gained traction. 

In the coming weeks, the school district is going to release a survey on the topic and while I'm clearly biased toward this type of calendar for the schools in Whistler and Pemberton, it is more important that you just have your say, whatever it is. 

Keep an eye out for invitations to the survey, which is running on Dec. 4 to 16 and make sure you take five minutes to participate.

Dan Wilson
Whistler

Housing needs to stay top of mind

Recently, a friend of mine confessed to me that his lease was up in December and he was told his rent was going to double because of the going rate demand.

This is not the first time I have heard this. In fact, my landlord has refused to give me more than a month-to-month lease because he is selling his home, I am faced with the same problem my friend has, I may have to move or pay double (and I have lived here for 25 years).

When I first moved here, I managed to get a job as a barista — the owner of the business believed in the snowball effect, if you want your customers to come back they have to be treated well, and in order for that to happen your employees who are mainly minimum wage have to be treated well, and in order for that to happen the supervisors... and so it goes.

It has worked well over the years and could be a model for other employers I have worked for but also several other people I know have had the same problem.

One of the main problems I've noticed in the past 25 years is the cost of housing has made it difficult to build suitable homes for the people who live here.

There are a lot of communities that face the same housing crunch we have (though one difference Whistler seasonal workers have is the need to find space for everything they need to survive the cold, wet and heat — all this stuff needs a place to be stored.)

The Whistler Housing Authority has done a somewhat adequate job within its resources to provide the community with affordable housing, but has not taken the fact that we need storage into consideration in the building process, leaving us to store things outside and causing problems with stratas.

My solution would be to put this information to use in future projects, as a happy employee is a productive employee, and people do not like to be forced to live in a box with no room to move around.

It's a bit of a conundrum; the cost of housing is so high providing more space means charging more for the home, leaving the average person out of the "affordable housing market."

In fact, most of the average employees cannot afford single-family homes and will have to rent, falling into the increasing rental trap.

Something must be done or minimum-wage workers won't be able to afford to live in, or commute, to Whistler to provide service for the tourists who come to spend time in our little piece of paradise.

Michael Deschenes
Whistler

Weekend, a celebration of the arts

Wow, what a weekend we just experienced, with Whistler Village full of smiles, skis, snowboards, and holiday cheer!

Arts Whistler would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate local art, from the Gallery Weekend to Bratz Biz and the Arts Whistler Holiday Market, Whistler's arts and culture community collaborated to build a strong weekend celebrating Whistler's creative community.

While the weather delivered fun on the mountains, it made for a challenging journey on the roads. To everyone who braved highway travel or popped off their skis for a few hours to check out the cultural happenings, thank you for supporting the arts scene that continues to thrive in our little mountain town.

Thank you to our local art galleries for collaborating on a new initiative, hosting a successful Gallery Weekend that highlighted the incredible local and international art we are fortunate to have in Whistler. With exhibit openings, live music and live painting, locals and visitors had a chance to mix and mingle with featured artists, and explore Whistler's beautiful local gallery spaces.

Our thanks and congratulations to Bratz Biz on hosting its annual market at a new location — The Westin Resort and Spa, Whistler. Since 2006, these talented kids have showcased a diverse array of locally made crafts and products, demonstrating both their talents as artists and entrepreneurs. Thank you to the parents, volunteers, and young artists who work tirelessly to bring this event to the community.

Finally, we thank everyone who participated in the Arts Whistler Holiday Market (formally Bizarre Bazaar), as we celebrated another year of showcasing local artists and their wares at the Whistler Conference Centre. We offer a huge thank you to the vendors and to our dedicated volunteers who help make this market run smoothly.

We look forward to creating bigger and better things next year with our partners in the arts community!

Maureen Douglas and the Arts Whistler team

Stacks of thanks

Thank-you to the 200 people that came out for the 24th Annual Library Wine and Cheese last Friday in Pemberton.

With the 34 unique gift baskets donated by local businesses, and with ticket sales being matched by Scotiabank, we will be able to make a sizable contribution towards the library's main room redesign plans.

Thank you also to the SLRD for granting us the Select Fund, which helped us cover our food and rental expenses, and thank you to the many volunteers who set up, tore down, bartended, and served.

Thanks to all of the Pemberton restaurants, who donated the delicious appetizers, and to Jenna Dashmey of The Food Lovers Catering Co. for overseeing and preparing the food. Additionally, thank-you to Dawn, Brad, Tom and Gavin for the great tunes in the Library.

Julie Kelly
Chair of The Friends of the Pemberton and District Library

For the Record

In an article in the Nov. 24 issue of Pique, Tim Schumacher of the Conservation Officer Service was quoted as saying "we want people to be upset when a bear is destroyed, because we're upset... people get upset and change happens, and that's what we want."

In a follow-up email, Schumacher clarified that he was not referring to the province's Bear Response Matrix in making those comments.

"What I meant by 'public outrage being useful' is that people start to care more about our wildlife, get involved and take action (by being Bear Smart)... There was no point in time where I was blaming the Matrix or questioning any COS policies. That certainly isn't the issue here and I think we need to get back on track to what we do best," he wrote.

"We need to make it socially unacceptable to leave attractants out for bears. This is the most effective way we can save bears' lives. Unfortunately, when a bear gets to the point of breaking into vehicles or homes, we have already failed as organizations, communities and society, to protect our valuable resources. It's then time to move on and do better next time."

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