Letters to the editor for the week of June 5th 

click to enlarge SUBMITTED BY CATHY JEWETT - Firefighters help make neighbourhood Fire Smart
  • Submitted by Cathy Jewett
  • Firefighters help make neighbourhood Fire Smart

Contract explanation needed

Although I attended the May 20 council meeting as someone helping Sea to Sky Soils with their bid to win the RFP to operate the Whistler Composting facility at the Callaghan, I'm writing this as a Whistler taxpayer and former Vancouver city councillor, with some serious questions about what happened in the awarding of that contract.

Walker Environmental Group, (WEG) a 127-year-old family-owned eastern Canadian company with vast waste management experience, partnered with locally owned and operated Sea to Sky Soils, (SSS) operators of four composting sites in southwestern B.C., including the one at Rutherford Creek, to respond to a RMOW Request for Proposals for a five-year contract to process bio-solids at the Callaghan.

On April 29, staff emailed WEG/SSS to say that after a "thorough evaluation" they had won the RFP. WEG/SSS was told their bid was $600,000 cheaper than the competing bid from Carney's. Later that day, based on no new information, staff sent another email saying they changed their mind, based on a reassessment of WEG/SSS's costs in the RFP.

What caused them to go back and recalculate WEG/SSS costs?

On what basis did that recalculation reduce WEG/SSS's cost advantage from $600,000 to $200,000?

If there was a misunderstanding about numbers, why, after being notified that they won the bid, was WEG/SSS not given an opportunity to clarify their numbers in writing or in a meeting with staff?

Why was it necessary to rush to a decision on the RFP on one day with a multi-million-dollar contract at stake?

Even though cost made up 50 per cent of the decision and WEG/SSS had the lower bid, their significantly lower score on "experience" resulted in them losing the bid.

Yet between them, WEG and SSS process about 15 times as much organic waste as Carney's, using a variety of technologies, in numerous municipalities around Canada — including Banff, with similar conditions as Whistler. How could this experience be ranked lower than Carney's, which has one site? If experience was based only on experience operating the very rare composting machine at Callaghan, no one else could have won the contract.

The experience chosen by council comes at a high cost. In addition to more than $200,000 in five-year operational savings, WEG/SSS had included in its RFP response a proposal to introduce its Gore-Cover Technology, used in 250 cities around the world and also at Rutherford Creek, to phase out the Wright Tunnels currently used for composting at the Callaghan.

Staff has shown interest in this idea. If built within RMOW's planned infrastructure upgrade budget, this would save Whistler taxpayers an additional $200,000 a year in maintenance costs (Whistler taxpayers currently spend $350,000 on upkeep and maintenance at the Callaghan composting facility) — this was never brought up by staff at the council meeting.

Council chose an option costing Whistler taxpayers $1.2 million more than a competing bid offered over five years.

I emailed every Whistler councillor twice with this information. None replied. I left phone messages for all councillors. Only one replied, but did nothing. SSS met with staff before the council meeting and went over all these issues. Staff agreed that WEG/SSS had a strong case and the process could have been handled better, but stood by their decision. I raised some of these issues at the council question period. On the matter of maintenance costs, staff said they would provide answers later in the meeting, but didn't.

At the meeting, Whistler's supposedly fiscally responsible council asked almost no questions about the decision-making process and full financial implications of this $4.9-million contract (the mayor excused herself as her firm works for Carney's).

I suggested in my email to mayor and council that they could ask for this RFP decision to be reviewed by an outside party, as is done in many other municipalities.

The day after the meeting, SSS was notified that Whistler food waste would be diverted away from its Rutherford Creek compost facility. If that facility is shut down due to a lack of local support, Whistler taxpayers will go back to paying a premium to ship overflow organic waste to Washington State during December to May peak volumes.

Whistler taxpayers need some answers.

Peter Ladner


Firefighters help neighbourhood limit forest fire risk

To broaden awareness of Whistler's Neighbourhood Firesmart Program, Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood recently brought a large crew of firefighters to the Fissile and Idylwood neighbourhood of Alpine Meadows.

The crew descended upon this forest/urban interface area to expertly identify and remove potential fuel that could spread fire within the community.

A huge bouquet of roses to Fire Captains Dan Kauffman and Stephen Doyle and their hard-working firefighters for yeoman service in helping to remove over 100 cubic metres of potential fuel. Your example encouraged the participation of many homeowners and helped focus community consciousness on fire prevention. Good job!

Thanks too for the service of the RMOW Community Chipping Pilot Program, which removed the large piles of limbs collected by the hard-working firemen and homeowners.

Forest/urban interface fire concerns many homeowners, but few are able to identify and effectively control naturally occurring fire risk. The hands-on support and guidance of the Whistler Fire Department and the RMOW helped homeowners focus on high-risk issues and inspired many to get out and get active in reducing fuel levels.

The memory of the 2003 Kelowna, Barriere and Kamloops Fires tends to fade quickly and it is important to bear in mind that Whistler shares a similar forest/urban interface and many of the same fire risks.

Harold Locke, Brenda Hochachka, Ian Johnston, Ann McKinnon, Stephanie McHugh and many other very appreciative residents of the Fissile and Idylwood neighbourhood.

Now Fire Smart

The members of the Fissile/Idylwood strata would like to thank Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood for selecting our strata for the Fire Smart Pilot program, and mayor and council for approving this project.

After completing an assessment of the fire risk of our 27-home strata; on the May 24/25 weekend a crew of fire fighters arrived bright and early with pole-mounted chainsaws to assist home owners and residents in crown-raising trees, removing deadfall and debris and creating clear zones around the houses.

Large trees that require professional tree fallers were identified and left for another day.

Second homeowners and permanent residents from the very young to our most senior citizens donned work gloves, picked up tools and pitched in.

We had people trimming, hauling away, raking and cleaning up debris and the strata was a flurry of activity for two days.

All were amazed by the size of the debris piles we managed to stack up along the streets in such a short time; these were removed during the week by the RMOW chipping crew.

A task that would have been overwhelming and much less effective if undertaken over time by each homeowner, was made swift work of by our well-trained firefighters and the amateur-owner group back-up crew.

This program gave our strata a big jump start on creating a Fire Smart community and showed us how much can be accomplished when we work together.

We are very grateful to the firefighters for their guidance and hard work. A sincere thank you to Sheila and crew from the Fissile Idylwood strata council.  

Jill Almond, John Morgan, Cathy Jewett, Dave Copeland and Lockie Brown


Lock out leads to confusion

Teachers in School District 48 have been working under the restrictions of an employer lockout for the past two weeks.

As a result, they have faced punitive measures, including a salary cut of 10 per cent. This action on the part of the employer came in response to a moderate job action, approved by the Labour Relations Board, that teachers began in late April.

This job action was intended to minimize impacts on students but put pressure on the employer at the bargaining table.

Unfortunately, the employer's lockout has had a deleterious effect on some student activities that had not been previously affected by the teacher job action. Prior to the lockout, most extra-curricular activities were continuing as the Union recognizes that they are voluntary activities.

The ill-conceived, chaotic lockout by the employer left teachers, students, and the public, unclear on which activities teachers were permitted to participate, and forced teachers to abandon their voluntary activities.

Because of the employer lockout, administrators at some district schools have chosen to cancel some activities and special events, which could have proceeded without teachers' involvement.

Understandably, teachers are not happy about the direction that the dispute has taken, but remain committed to bargain a freely negotiated collective agreement.

Our bargaining goals are supported by all members: "A Fair Deal for Teachers; Better Supports for Students."

Carl Walker

President, Sea to Sky Teachers' Association

NIMBY thanks

The fifth edition of the NIMBY Fifty in Pemberton went off with a bang this past Saturday and what we saw was another truly amazing day of riding, on beautiful trails, amongst stunning mountain scenery with like-minded lovers of the bike.

Our most sincere thanks go out to all the volunteers who come out of the woodwork every year to make this event happen. Russ, Terry and I are just three guys with busy work and family lives, and the day simply wouldn't happen without the tireless help and support of our battle-hardened volunteers. Thank you so much for making this event so smooth year after year.

We also want to make sure and thank each and every racer who heads out to Pemberton and lays it all on the line on the most beautiful, but punishing, singletrack you'll ever ride. You're why we keep coming back to put this great race on every year.

Special thanks need to be mentioned also to our incredible sponsors without whom the NIMBY Fifty wouldn't happen: Chromag, Red Bull, Steed Cycles, Different Bikes, The Soze Group, Oakley, Bike Co., Boreale Mountain Biking, Fanatyk Co., Dissent Labs, Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa, Code Sports, BikePirate.com, Trail Mapps, Dean Linnell Personal Real Estate Corp., Vibe9 Design, The Pemberton Valley Trail Association, The Pony Espresso, Deep Cove Craft Brewery, Schramm Vodka, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, BC Bike Race, Pemberton Valley Lodge, Kinesio Majo, Route 99 Motorsports, the Dubh Linn Gate, and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. 

A big shout-out goes to Jordan and Trish Sturdy at North Arm Farm who so graciously supply the use of their beautiful farm as our race venue. Every year you're both becoming more and more relaxed as close to 500 racers and their families descend upon your property. So, thanks for staying so cool!

Our hearts also go out to fellow racer, Matt Klee of Oregon, who passed away on Friday, May 30 in an accident at the Whistler Bike Park. Matt's name was on the start list for NIMBY Fifty 2014 the next day. Our most sincere condolences go out to Matt's family and friends.

Thanks so much everyone and we'll see you again next year for another deep-dive into the sweet pain cave that is the NIMBY Fifty!

Dean Linnell, Terry Evans & Russ Wood

Founders and Race Directors of the NIMBY Fifty

A winter to remember

Now that the mountain is closed for the winter season, I find I have the time to say thanks and I have good reason.

Thanks to Whistler Blackcomb,

For being you and doing all that you do.

In a season where we may have talked more highly of rollers than pillows, you really came through.

I'm sure I'd be at a complete loss for things to do, if not for you.

Thanks to my friends and families,

Smashing pow, racing groomers, seeing sights, hitting hit runs, sitting on the chairs and gondys.

All perfectly suitable solo activities but add good pals and expect timeless memories.

Time with pals is nothing but clever.

Thanks to you we made a bunch of "the best day ever."

For those I missed seeing.

Not sorry, I was skiing.

For us I think the path is clear.

We will have to meet up for a soul shred next year.

So it's off to the memory bank for me.

Off to deposit all that life money.

I guess it's time to get amongst the summertime activities,

Beaching the beach, biking the trail, wiffle in the forest, rope swinging into the lakes, jumping out planes and floating in floaties.

Enjoying the smell of fresh cut grass on the warm summer breeze.

Alas, I doubt a day will go by that I don't think upon those sweet, sweet winter memories.

Thanks and much love.

Phill Nicoll


MPCS takes the Climate Change Showdown

On behalf of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, I am pleased to announce the winner of the Climate Change Showdown for the Sea to Sky region in B.C. is Craig Smith's Grade 4 class at Myrtle Philip Community School in Whistler, followed by Mireille Turcotte and Jacinthe Gauthier's classes at l'Ecole la Passerelle in second and third place respectively.

By making important energy saving changes at home and when travelling the students of Whistler who participated in the program are responsible for reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by a total estimated 44 tones (if they continue their actions throughout the year). That is the equivalent to providing all energy needs for 11 family homes all year! Great Job!

The Climate Change Showdown is a program managed by the BCSEA, which aims to promote a raised awareness about our impact on the environment and to inspire long lasting behavioural change in all students, teachers and families that take part.

The workshops have been possible in Whistler this year thanks to the support of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Thanks everyone for your efforts in reaching a more sustainable world!

Marie Fortin

Climate Change Showdown Environmental Educators

Derby thanks

The Whistler Roller Girls Society (WRGS) would like to thank the community of Whistler for all of its support and cheering at our home bouts this past year.

It has been so much fun playing in front of a home crowd, and we are thankful for having the opportunity to spread the derby love in Whistler.

WRGS would like to thank Petra and all of the wonderful staff at Meadow Park, the referees, all of our incredible volunteers and the Brick House Betties for making our season ender such a close and exciting bout last weekend.

WRGS would also like to thank all of our sponsors for their generous donations. Thank you to Whistler Brewing Company for providing a great beer garden, Garf's, Whistler Superior, Freeman Audio Visual, Peak Performance, Roller Girl, MidnightFinishing, The Station, Creekside Dental, Fairy Punk Designs, The Fairmont, Nesters, Scandinave Spa, Naked Sprout, Camp of Champions, Epsom Gel and Cocos Pure. We couldn't have done this without you!

We would also like to thank SMVImages, Sean St. Denis, New Guy Photography and Russ Desaulniers and all of the amazing photographers for their talent and time! And definitely our crew of onesie-wearing, #1 fans: the Owl, Spyro the Dragon, the Unicorn, the Fox, Banana Man and Co!

A special thank you to all of the derby family and friends who support our members as well, all of who have worked so hard since starting this league three years ago.

Your support has allowed us to be successful.

Derby love to all!

Melissa Hollis (a.k.a. Haul Ass), vice president, WRGS



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