Letters to the Editor for the week of June 30th 

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Emission control

RE:  Letter to the Editor, "Woodfibre LNG will be one of the cleanest?", June 23, 2016:

Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, who said in a May 2014 article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper: "Woodfibre LNG intends to link its facility directly to the BC Hydro grid, which delivers 92-per-cent clean and renewable electricity. As a result, at least from a carbon-pollution perspective, its LNG would indeed beat the global gold standard for carbon pollution." So yes, by making the decision to power our facility with electricity from BC Hydro instead of natural gas, we will reduce our GHG emissions by more than 80 per cent, making Woodfibre LNG one of the cleanest LNG facilities in the world.

As the responsible owner of a historical industrial site, Woodfibre LNG Limited is going beyond what is required to help in the rehabilitation of Howe Sound. Notably — through our Environmental Assessment Agreement (EEA) with the Squamish Nation — we will create a green zone around Mill Creek, which will help improve habitat for fish, including pink salmon.

Also included in our EEA with the Squamish Nation, the Squamish Nation has a direct say on which cooling method we will ultimately use for our project. As part of this second look at our cooling technology, we've had professional fisheries and marine biologists from Hemmera Envirochem Inc. at our site to conduct pink-salmon outmigration surveys this spring and herring-spawn surveys for the last two spawning seasons. You can read more about their findings in the latest edition of our newsletter on our website, woodfibrelng.ca.

We'll continue to rely on science to inform our engineering decisions. For example, if seawater cooling is selected as our cooling technology, we'll do more studies and modelling as required by our EEA with the Squamish Nation and the provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate before construction can begin. These studies will guide the final design of the seawater cooling system intake and diffuser to ensure that they meet best management practices and protect fish in Howe Sound.

Have a question for Woodfibre LNG?  Visit our Q&A website, askwoodfibrelng.ca.

Jennifer Siddon
Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Woodfibre LNG Limited

Sign of the times

Thank you, Whistler pilots!

Go to Whistler Air's base at Nick North and you'll see a new sign posted showing the recommended landing and take-off routes for seaplanes that avoid over-flying homes.

This directly benefits the residents of Nick North, Alpine and Emerald Estates, and discourages all "sightseeing" flights above other residential areas, thus avoiding unnecessary noise disturbances.

A shout out to community-minded Whistler Air base manager Daren Clark, and Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall for designing and putting up this sign.

Peter von der Porten

Time for a change

Now that we are supposedly getting a real-waves surf park in Whistler, it's time to send in a letter with my latest idea to make this town more fun to live in. If the Reno-aissance that Whistler Blackcomb has in the works adds the projected 800,000 people to the resort as planned, changing the school week is a must.

Locals already grumpily tell guests: "Humphhh! I never ski on weekends." What kind of customer experience message is that? If locals didn't have to ski on Saturday and Sunday, but knew they had a weekend to ski that kicked in on the slowest days of the week, you'd never hear that quote again. It would free up more space in line for the projected 800,000 people, making their Whistler experience better. Customer experience isn't just for tourists; it also should include the people who live here. We are customers of Whistler and our experience should be equally as important.

It's time to change our school week.  This is a town where every night is someone's Friday night, and the busiest days in the resort are Saturdays and Sundays. As such, the school week should have Mondays and Tuesdays off instead of Saturdays and Sundays. This idea would make for happier staff, parents and kids, which will make an enhanced Whistler guest experience for everyone, tourists and locals alike.  

As our town gets busier and busier, it's getting harder and harder to ski and ride on weekends with our friends and/or our kids. Standing in line for 45 minutes to an hour to access one of the village gondolas or chairs isn't very fun at all and even worse when you are trying to ski with little kids with limited attention spans. Having the kids in school on Saturday and Sunday would free up locals to work when the town is the busiest without having to stress about childcare and so much else. Knowing your ski days don't line up with the rest of the world's weekend makes me happy just thinking about it. Kids wouldn't skip school as much because why should they skip school to stand in line? It would make employers happy because it would be easier to get committed staff that could work Saturdays and Sundays when they are needed most and the pay is the best.

The change would take the strain off the ski school by shifting the local kids to less busy days of the week so there would be more instructors available for Saturdays and Sundays, while making more lessons available for the same instructors on traditionally slower days, such as Mondays and Tuesdays. Making it more affordable to live here means thinking of ways for people to get paid more.

Companies are finding it harder and harder to attract great staff and people committed to staying in Whistler. This would be an amazing bonus to everyone thinking of moving here to work and live.

Best of all, the experience that we all moved here for and work ourselves to death for would be enhanced tenfold. Skiing and riding with our kids and local friends without standing in long lines is why we are here. Changing the school week to accommodate local families so parents can make hay while the snow falls, sun shines or disco ball spins and still be able to ride with their kids on the non-busy days would go a long way to making it easier, more affordable and more fun to live here.

Big ideas take time to accomplish and if we worked on it, this could happen quicker than we think, possibly by September. And the Farmer's Almanac says this coming winter is looking good and I want to snowboard more with my kids.

Ken Achenbach

The unsustainable cost of des

In the lead-up to the Whistler 2010 Olympics, the political hot button was green with federal and provincial governments offering incentives in the form of rebates for the installation of high-efficiency heating systems, especially heat pumps that promised free energy from air. But the political green darling was the geothermal system that extracts energy from the Earth that was free for the taking. 

As the federal rebate program wound down, provincial rebates took over. Ontario offered incentives in the form of rebates of up to $750 for installing high-efficiency furnaces and up to $1,250 for installing solar panels. While rebates of up to $500 were offered for the installation of heat pumps, rebates of up to $4,375 were offered for the installation of geothermal systems. This was almost three-and-a-half times the maximum rebate offered for solar panels and almost nine times the maximum rebate offered for heat pumps. Why such a spread? A large rebate was required to offset the high upfront costs associated with the installation of a geothermal system. The beneficiaries of the rebates were not only homeowners, but the suppliers of heat pumps and installers of geothermal systems who faced a tough sell.

If there was only one thing that was better than the green darling, geothermal, it was the District Energy System (DES). DES systems extract heat from the processing of raw sewage that otherwise goes down the drain.

Politicians were quick to seize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be immortalized for making the Olympics the greenest in history. This clearly played a role in VANOC's decision to go DES green, not just for the heating of buildings in the Olympic Village, but also for the heating of hot water in the residential units so that athletes could be anointed with green hot water. As engineer Ken Newbert commented in his forensic investigation: "the systems seemed appropriate for the application considering the VANOC design criteria for domestic hot water delivery during Games Mode." But the special high-temperature heat pump was two-and-a-half times the cost of a standard heat pump, not to mention temperamental. Worse, in the Legacy phase it continues to heat 120 gallons of hot water 24/7 where a standard 40-gallon hot water tank would more than suffice. This is anything but green, let alone sustainable. It is important to note that the VANOC design criteria for heating domestic hot water with a heat pump did not appear to be applied to apartment-style units like The Springs and Falls where hot water is heated by gas boilers or electric hot-water tanks.

While DES systems are energy efficient, there is a small problem. The high upfront cost of installing a DES heat-pump system eclipses any savings.

By the time the Olympics were winding down, the infatuation with geothermal systems was quickly fading. By 2012 the rebate program in Ontario had come to an end.

Despite the Olympic hype, Newbert noted: "The systems are not revolutionary or what we would call leading edge." With the Olympics in the rearview mirror, the promise of DES green has morphed into a sea of red ink that is slowly drowning owners in Cheakamus Crossing in unsustainable debt.

We DES owners will not go gently into that dark night.

David MacPhail

Not so affordable

It's great to have Pique covering the issues Cheakamus residents are currently suffering with this DES system. The WHA is such an important part of Whistler and having this subsidized housing is the only way most workers in town can afford to buy here. To have such a high percentage of this "affordable" housing in such a great community burdened with mistakes made by the Whistler Development Corp. is frustrating. To ask residents to spend approximately $2,000 per year maintaining systems that are riddled with installation errors is suddenly not so affordable and unless something is done now, things will only get worse.

The engineering report has 20 pages of information detailing what needs to be done to get our systems up to the specifications to which they should have been installed — before any homeowner took ownership. No one can overlook this report and it's insulting to offload responsibility to homeowners and blame us for the vast amount of costly issues we deal with on a weekly basis.

Kelly Gibbens

A FUNtastic day it was

On June 17, Spring Creek Community School celebrated another successful year of learning with its annual FUN Day.

We had many wacky activity stations thanks to our amazing Grade 6 and 7 students. The leadership, positive energy and responsibility that you demonstrated throughout the day were commendable. The Graduating Class of 2016 is a special one!

A big thank-you to our newly appointed principal Mr. Stuart Bent for "clowning" around all day, and to Lenka Hennesey and all of the SCCS and ELP teachers and assistants who dressed and played along in colourful spirit. A big thank-you to all of the students who brought their teamwork and high energy, and to the large group of SCCS and ELP parents who helped with set-up and the tear-down. It was a memorable day because of all of you.

Special thanks to the PAC's Tracy Higgs for leading the organization and Tanya Goertzen for MCing. Hot chocolate and coffee cups of thanks to Tim Hortons store #5791 and Creekside Starbucks. Your generous contributions in helping to create a super FUN day for all students were much appreciated.

Christine Zucht
Spring Creek Community School PAC

Thanks to our Library Friends

On behalf of the Whistler Public Library Board of Trustees and the library staff we would like to thank all the friends who have served and continue to give their time, energy and contribution to our library.

The financial augmentation that the friends have provided over the years has undoubtedly helped enrich the library for both individuals and the community at large.

Congratulations to you and all of the volunteers who successfully raised $4,675 at the recent book sale, and thanks also for the support of the giant plant sale earlier this month, which raised more than $2,000. Coordinating such events is a monumental effort that plays a generous and selfless role in both advocacy and the provision of funds to purchase items that make a significant impact on the positive patron experience here at the library.

In the last several years your contributions have brought us such wonderful things as the bistro seating in the plaza, new fixtures for the children's area, BOB the book bike and our beautiful Christmas tree (just to name a few). In addition, we are grateful for your ongoing support of Books for BC Babies, Film Movement and our recent Spanish and French conversation groups — not to mention the beloved Games Night, which serves as a home away from home for so many young people.

For all of this we thank our library friends!

Elizabeth Tracy


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