Letters to the editor for the week of July 2nd 

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Alpha Lake parking nightmare

The municipality needs a serious review on the Alpha Lake/Lake Placid Road parking situation.

Clearly many of the parking bylaws are being violated in this area, especially now the summer weather is in full swing.

Have I seen one muni officer issuing bylaw violation tickets? Unfortunately the answer is no, but I have sure seen near-miss accidents, pedestrian and cyclist hazards, pet hazards, oh, and my driveway is blocked.

This is not a pretty sight to see from my lounge window; I'm surrounded.

A consideration for the folks living in this area needs to be taken too.

Samantha Royle


Butt out safely

It is disgusting to see cigarette butts all over the municipality.

But the main concern of many locals is the fire danger. It has been very warm and very little rain.

From this we are at risk of serious fires here in Whistler.

All the snow has almost left both mountains, all the way into our glaciers. With limited water we could be in critical danger.

Do not throw cigarette butts from the chairlifts or gondolas, from your bikes or while hiking. Put the butts in your garbage and dispose in garbage cans.

As for the village — there are garbage cans and ashtrays everywhere.

Please dispose of the butts and do not put them on the ground.

Cigarette butts also contaminate our lakes, streams and drinking water.

Ryan Doiron


Stop creating garbage

In my opinion, we are creating too much garage by throwing paper, plastics, compost and metals into our garbage cans.

Did you know that Americans throw away 694 plastic bottles a second?

I think we should not purchase drinks in plastic bottles at all. If we stop buying them companies will have to stop making them.

Reuse plastic instead of throwing it away and try not to buy plastic in the first place.

However, when we do have plastic make sure it is recycled. Recycling saves energy. When you reuse paper instead of making it new you use less energy, 70 per cent less energy.

Also, composting is so important for our environment, for creating healthy gardens, and not taking up space in the landfill.

People should not throw away reusable recycling.

Be careful with how much you throw away.

Rosie Fyfe

Grade 2

Food waste

I think it is sad that Canadians waste billions of dollars of good food. We do not plan ahead. We do not make lists. It is less money to buy a lot at once.

We buy a big bag of strawberries, but half go mouldy and we throw them out.

We throw out perfectly good food. We throw out yogurt when it reaches its "best before" date even if it is still good.

I think it is sad that Canadians waste billions of dollars of good food. They should eat the good food instead.

Juliet Williams

Grade 1

Editors' note: Breanne Roy's Grade 2 class and Jaclyn McCance's Grade 1/2 class wrote these "Letters to the Editor" about environmental issues. This group of students showed passion for environmental issues, so their teachers allowed them to research the issues learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the importance of recycling, food waste issues and water conservation. Experts came to the school, and the students went on a field trip to the Re-Use-It Centre to learn more about reducing and reusing what they buy. They completed research at home, and with librarian Sara Leach to learn facts about their subject.

Variance requests should not be the norm

Please join me in stopping builders from abusing the Variance Board process.

Three years ago I sent a letter to Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, asking her to take charge of this type of abuse. I think she made a few changes. I recently noticed the same abuse and have written to her again.

The letter explains why the variance process is flawed and is in effect a "property grab" for builders. If you care at all I urge you to write to the mayor.

The variance process is only to be used in rare and minor situations of undue hardship. Because of the particular way that the Whistler variance process operates, I believe it can be open to abuse. To prevent this possible abuse the Board must be absolutely clear about their role and the concept of conflict of interest.

On June 30 JBR Construction (asked) the variance board to change the Whistler bylaws so it could build a huge house on a vacant lot (likely for resale). In doing so the board had to balance the private interest of the builder against the public interest of the rest of us Whistler people.

By granting the variance they gave (for free) to JBR a chunk of the land and air space that is now owned by the public. In effect JBR can build a bigger house than currently allowed under the bylaws and then make a bigger profit. This decision cannot be taken lightly.

The most important thing for the variance board to keep in mind is this: According to the law there is no undue hardship if the builder knew about the setbacks before buying the land. In other words, the builder accepts the hardship when they bought the land and the price of the land likely reflected this.

Three years ago, I saw this type of abuse happen. On July 31, 2012, I watched the variance board grant seven (yes seven) variances shrinking the public land on every side of a house, as well as the height and the depth!

Now a monster home sits squeezed between to lovely cabins and extends right onto the roadway and onto the beach. I was the only person at the hearing who was speaking for the public interest. The builder had about a dozen "friends" in attendance.

There are other problems as I see it with the variance. The process must not favour one side (e.g. builders). Only a handful of local neighbours learn about the builder's request because there is no public notice, even though all Whistlerites are affected by loss of public space.

Neighbours (like me) have to spend their own personal time to learn all about the law (it took many days) and then show up at the meeting (all alone) and stick out their necks and risk bad feelings in an effort to simply protect what we all already own — public space. There is no downside or embarrassment to the builder.

Another problem is that the board must have tools to be effective. The board relies heavily on those in attendance (e.g. the builders) and doesn't have access to prior decisions of other courts or other variance boards. It needs these tools to be able to interpret and apply the law.

Also, the board must be clear about its role and understand conflicts of interest. It is critical that the board understand the definition of "minor" variance, as well as the factors it must consider when determining "undue hardship."

That is the legal test.

As well the board must understand that when it grants a variance it is effectively overriding the work of municipal council. Its first role is always to honour the intent of the bylaws (that took years to develop).

I am hopeful that if the variance board plays its proper role then Whistler architects, designers and builders will no longer design buildings that intentionally violate the bylaws.

They will then stop assuming that the variance board will bend the rules for them, so they can make a profit at the public's expense. It's just not right.

Maureen Fitzgerald


Whistler Secondary School prom

Whistler Secondary School Graduates would like to thank the following businesses and individuals who helped make the 2015 prom a huge success.

Everyone was so generous and helpful to our prom committee: the Whistler Golf Club for their beautiful venue and great staff, Linda Marshall of Whistler Wedding Planners for her gorgeous decorations and flowers, Sabre Rentals for the magnificent tent, Coast Mountain Photography for the gorgeous photos, Marianne Cankoviic for her sweet impatiens, XL Audio Visual for the fantastic sound system and light show, Blue Violet Events for the lovely mood-enhancing tent lights, Cheese! Box Photo Booth for the entertaining cheesy photos, DJs Fenner Rockliffe and Dylan Girard for the cool tunes, Princess Stephanie for the lovely drapery, Purebread for the best cake ever, our parent chaperones for ensuring our students had a fun and safe event and the community of families and friends who came out to cheer them all on!

In addition, we'd like to thank BG Urban Grill who hosted our tired grads the next morning for breakfast.

Throughout the school year, the Whistler community really showed its support in various grad-fundraising activities including the following businesses: The Fairmont Chateau Whistler for its generous donation, Whistler Showtime for its help on our Haunted house and Grad Fashion Show, Sea to Sky BC Liquor Stores for their dry grad donation, Whistler Health Care for the coat check opportunity, Stella and Dot jewellery, Creekbread, Life Touch, Joern Rohde Photography, Nesters, dozens of silent auction donors and last but not least, the WSS Parent Advisory Council for funds which we put towards our grad legacy bike racks.

You all helped make our graduation and prom a huge triumph. Congratulations Grads of 2015!

Alli van Gruen and Silke Gebauer-Barrett

Parent Prom Committee

ARTWALK thanks

On behalf of the Whistler Public Library, I'd like to thank the following sponsors for helping us make the opening night of ArtWalk 2015 at the library a big success.

Always there to support the library, the "Friends of the Library" group deserve a huge thank you, especially Moe Richardson and Maureen Chaddock.

Thanks also to Allyn Pringle and Ariel Harwood, IGA and Davids Tea for their delicious contributions.

For set up, thank you to Travis Tai and Ellika Crichton, as well as the Hunter/Pringle family.

The evening was a fun community event, and a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists whose works we are proud to showcase in our community gallery.

Come by the library this summer and admire the works of Anne Popma, Marlise Witschi and Mike Tyler.

Marilyn Crichton

Whistler Public Library

Bypass trail finally approved

On June 22, 2015, after four years of pending application, BC Recreation Sites and Trails approved a proposal submitted by the Powder Mountain Snowmobile and Outdoor Recreation Club to create a bypass trail around the area known as Avalanche Alley, in the backcountry area of Brandywine (15 kms south of Whistler).

The proposed trail is intended to provide an alternate route to the upper valley, which is less exposed to avalanches than the existing non-permitted route, while minimizing impacts on the sensitive alpine ecology.

I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank some of the key individuals who have contributed to the campaign for this trail: Shawn Wilson, Doug McDonald, and Nelson Bastien, your drive, support and selflessness from the start of this project back in 2009 has been unmatched — this approval would not have been possible without your commitment to keeping backcountry users safe whilst riding on the trails.

I would also like to acknowledge Tyler Kraushar (secretary), Donegal Wilson (executive), and Erin Hart (president) of the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF). Without your efforts, we would not have earned the support of MLA Jordan Sturdy, nor funding from the National Trails Coalition.

Also, I would like to thank Alistair McCrone from BC Recreation Sites and Trails for your persistence and patience with what seemed like a never ending set of complications and hold backs on the application to approve this new trail.

Lastly, thank you to Jodi Matsuoka for the countless hours spent contributing ideas, editing my poor spelling and sentence structure, and making me sound eloquent on paper.   

Again, my thanks to all those who have been directly or indirectly involved in getting this trail approved. Lets hope we can have the project completed before the end of summer

Ryan Thorley

President, Powder Mountain Snowmobile and Outdoor Recreation Club

BioBlitz a huge success

The Whistler Naturalists' 9th annual Whistler BioBlitz: Sea-to-Sky Edition was a huge success, thanks to the great weather and the quality and quantity of over 90 scientists and volunteers.

BioBlitzes strive to achieve two goals: to increase public appreciation for biodiversity and also our knowledge of all the species that share the areas where we live. The 2015 BioBlitz again achieved those goals thanks to the efforts and support of many people and organizations.

The highlight this year was our first Blitz in the Squamish Estuary. Thanks go to Judith Holm for her fantastic organizing and Vanessa Logie for guiding scientists to some fantastic spots. We also appreciate all the help from the SLRD and Stewardship Pemberton in putting together the Pemberton Blitz.

Visiting scientists were blown away by the diversity of ecosystems they encountered: from the estuary in Squamish on Friday, to Whistler's wetlands and alpine meadows on Saturday, then all the way up to Pemberton's Riverside Wetlands on Sunday. Everyone left enthusiastic and keen to do it all again next year at our 10th annual (and Canada's longest-running) BioBlitz.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by Alpha Lake Park on Saturday to take part in the BioBlitz Nature Festival. On display were Whistler critters, plants and other life forms with scientists answering questions and providing lots of amazing info. Special thanks to Trish and the Whistler Library for their "Animal Crackers" kids program that was a huge hit!

Results from the weekend are now pouring in and we expect the total to be more than 600 species, of which many will be new records for our area. The results will be collated by the Whistler Biodiversity Project and available on-line within the next few weeks at www.whistlernaturalists.ca.

The Whistler Naturalists would like to thank all the scientists and local volunteers, plus our key sponsors: the Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE, RMOW, SLRD, Whistler Blackcomb and Stewardship Pemberton.

We would also like to thank all the organizations and businesses who contributed to the event: Whistler Museum, Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, South Coast Bat Action Team, South Coast Conservation Program, Legends Hotel, Creekside Market, Nesters Market, Whistler Brewing, Riverside Café, Tourism Whistler, Avalanche Pizza, Tim Hortons, Janet Pashleigh, and Contour Promotions.

Kristina Swerhun, Bob Brett, Kathy Jenkins, and Julie Burrows

On behalf of the BioBlitz team


Where's my country?

I was born and raised in Ukraine in the '70s in what used to be the USSR, a communist regime. Because my grandfather escaped to Canada as a political refugee in the '60s our family was always under the watchful eye of the state. It wasn't fun. Liberties, like free speech and freedom of expression, were non-existent. Voting was a farce.

As you can imagine, immigrating to Canada in the '90s and then getting my Canadian citizenship was one of the greatest and happiest moments of my life. I proudly sang Oh Canada at the ceremony and, being the nerd that I am, I read the copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms I've been given from start to finish and marvelled at the freedoms guaranteed to me as a Canadian Citizen.

I ran off to a tattoo parlour a week later and got a maple leaf tattoo on my shoulder like I've seen so many other Canadians have. When travelling, I would point to the Canadian flag on my backpack and proudly exclaim where I was from.

In May 2015 part of Bill C-24 went into effect, and I, along with likely at least half of my fellow Whistlerites and millions of other immigrants across the country have been officially declared as second-class citizens.

A few days ago Bill C-51 went into effect...

We now live in a country where the government spy agency, CSIS, has been given broad police powers without much oversight.

We now live in a country where a person can be arrested and deemed a "terrorist" for raising their voice in an effort to prevent environmental disaster. The government may deem such speaking up an economic threat to the security of the nation. (For giggles Google "Lake Karachay" to see what can happen when a government is given free rein over "economic development.")

We now live in a country where a large majority has been declared second class or less than equal without committing any crime or having done anything wrong, and whose precious citizenship can be stripped away without a judge or a court.

We now live in a country whose laws have become eerily similar to the countries that I and many other immigrants have fought so hard to escape.

Will new citizens now be handed a redacted version of the Charter when they are sworn in?

Suddenly I don't feel like waving the Canadian flag around on July 1. Unless of course our Supreme Leader, Herr Harpfuehrer, says that I must. One wonders if we'll be asked to wear an armband at all times to easily identify us as second-class citizens.

My shoulder is itchy...

Victor Lezu


And what a FUNtastic day it was

Spring Creek Community School held its Fun Day on June 12.

Many wacky activity stations of thanks to our amazing Grade 7 teacher, Mrs. Hennessy and all of our incredible graduating Grade 7 students at Spring Creek Community School and Ecole La Passerelle (ELP) a super FUN Day. The leadership, positive energy and responsibility that you demonstrated throughout the day were commendable. The Graduating Class of 2015 from our school rocks!

Thank you to rainbow principal Ms. Lisa Bartlett, all of the SCCS and ELP teachers who showed immeasurable support, all of the students who brought the spirit, and the SCCC and ELP parents who helped with set up, helped at the stations and helped with tear down. It was a memorable day because of all of you, and despite the rapid changes in weather, it was all dealt with through laughter and smiles (wind and rain does not stop our fun!).

Special thanks to the PAC's Tracy Higgs and Andrea Legge for leading the organization, Tanya Goertzen for emceeing and Christine Zucht and Caralynn Haasen for assisting.

Fruit baskets and coffee cups of thanks to Creekside Market and Upper Village Market for the plentiful nutritional snacks, and to Whoola Toys for prize donations.

High fives to Nenna Craythorne, Caroline Bagnall, Michele Stalker, Jackie Jackson, Tom Jackson, Jane Hague, Alison Stein, Anne Gelenic, Jeff Isert, Kerri Fletcher, Renae Mayo, Melissa Deally, and Marvin Haasen — your efforts in creating an energized and enjoyable day for all students were much appreciated.

Christine Zucht

PAC Secretary, Spring Creek Community School

Nepal charity carwash

On June 13, students from Whistler Secondary School (WSS) held a charity carwash for Nepal at Creekbread.

The event was a huge success, as we raised almost $500 for the relief effort in Nepal.

On behalf of the WSS leadership class, I would like to thank all of the generous volunteers for coming out and helping us, and the people who had their cars washed for their donations.

Also, a big thank you to Creekbread for letting us host the event on its property, to Lordco in Function Junction for donating all of the soap we used, and to the Mellor family for providing hoses and helping out all day — this wouldn't have happened without your help.

The money we raised has already been sent to Plan Canada, where it will be used to support victims of the devastating earthquake that occurred last month.

I am thankful to have held this event in Whistler, as I believe this community is one of the most supportive and generous places around, thank you.

Dylan Macdonald

WSS leadership class


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