Letters to the Editor for the week of October 13th 

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A community coming together

We would like to thank the Whistler community for the amazing outpouring of support and help in our efforts to bring a family over from Syria.

The decision to bring a family to Whistler was not taken lightly. We weighed the risks of starting over in a town with a housing crisis against the generosity of Whistlerites and, thankfully, have been proven right. This town stepped up and spoke out against a tragic humanitarian crisis, demonstrating that we can see beyond the borders of our little mountain town.

This may seem like a small contribution in the grand scheme of things, but to the family coming here it is huge, so thank you for being a part of it.

Specifically, we would like to thank the following, in no particular order, for their time and effort. You are what makes Whistler special: Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church; Whistler Volunteer Fire Department; The Whistler Valley Quilters Guild; Nesters; Richard and Cindy David; Graeme Fitch; Red Mechanical (Dwane Peavoy); Rona Building Centre (Jordan); Sabre Rentals Ltd.; Carney's Waste Systems; Mountain Paint Commercial Centre (Dave and Laura Kinney, Mix Master Mike); Jack Crompton; Whistler Public Library; Race & Company LLP; Sophie Saint-Jacques; the Resort Municipality of Whistler; Durfeld Log Construction Ltd.; Cleaners for all Seasons; The World Ski & Snowboard Festival; Playground Builders; The Real Estate Association of Whistler; The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation; Rod and Ben of Windsor Plywood; Cameron Lackey; Emily Wood; Cormac O'Brien; Dane Cozens; Paul Quinlan; Tom Conway; Miles Vitti; Josh Riekman; Jeff Isert; Tom Gallagher; Jamie Wiseman; Jason Ellis; Chris Collins and Herge Girad of Owl Ridge Painting; Jake Illingworth and Plan B Electrical.

(If we've missed anyone, please know that you are valued and appreciated.)

Plus thanks for all the generous donations of money, clothing and household goods from Whistler residents.

While there was an enormous amount of work done in the past year, this is only the beginning.

When the family arrives in town next week, we are looking forward to a warm Whistler welcome. We hope that everyone can help them settle in and learn about just how awesome this place is.

Sarah Morden

Make marijuana free

What a to-do and excitement over the probability of marijuana being available to panic-stricken Pemberton councillors everywhere who are fearful of they know not what (Pique, Oct.6).

Yet there is a cry for expensive licences, zoning, quality, guidelines and a need for regulation while at the same time not having all the facts. There aren't any that everyone doesn't already know.

Cannabis is effective in the treatment of many aches and pains and known to be better than booze for recreation — and there is no "excited delirium" from marijuana as one councillor claimed.

The only problem is that it's currently unlawful. That aspect of the law needs to be cancelled.

Such laws exist only because of ignorant, frightened legislators. Completely without reason, marijuana was said to be wrong and forbidden. Suddenly with the prospect of the new legality, it is said to be OK if taxed.

This false morality shows its real colours with heavy-handed control, as it has over the years with alcohol.

Marijuana needs to be as free as potatoes and marigolds and rhubarb and grapes. Just eliminate the laws against it and let it be.

Tax income instead.

Terry Smith
Garibaldi Highlands

Don't download housing onto taxpayers alone

In response to all the discussion about housing lately, I felt compelled to write this letter against my better judgment to address another side.

As second homeowners in Whistler, we pay our taxes every year, some of which go, if I am not mistaken, to support the Whistler Housing Authority.

Now I read that the muni is fielding a task force to study and address the crisis, again using our tax dollars.

Our family works very hard over the year to pay these taxes, and we own here because we bought in when real estate was reasonably priced.

We are not the "elite" and take offence when we are branded as such, as I am sure many second homeowners do also.

So... questions:

1) Where is the Whistler Centre for Sustainability in all of this? Is not this the very issue they should address? And if not, then what exactly is its mandate?

2) Why are second homeowners expected to always ante up? Is paying our taxes here to support the WHA and other initiatives not enough?

We have a longtime local worker who stays at the house as a caretaker/roommate. He pays very reasonable rent in exchange for basic maintenance and the odd load of firewood or the occasional driveway-shovelling marathon.

So we feel we do our share, and have nothing but empathy for many longtime friends and workers who have struggled with wages and housing in our resort since the 1980s.

However, in the final analysis if resort businesses need housing for employees, then they should be the ones to provide the better working wages and accommodations, and not try to download this onto homeowners in general, one way or another.

Paul Rossi

[Editor's Note: The WHA's operational budget is self-funded, derived from revenues associated with its rental-restricted inventory. The municipal subsidiary is the lead organization responsible for all restricted housing development in Whistler and has been supported by the RMOW Housing Fund and/or other public resources in the past.]

Tourism in Whistler

With all the talk about not having enough staff to keep our valued tourists happy, why are we still paying Tourism Whistler high monthly fees to bring in still more tourists? Just asking.

Wally Raepple

Edible education

"We know when children are encouraged to grow and cook, and enjoy wholesome, delicious food all together, from seed to table and back again, in an atmosphere of caring and beauty, they fall in love with its lessons." (Edible Schoolyard; A Universal Idea, by Alice Waters, 2008)

A seed was planted, it grew and flourished, and fed and nourished.

This past spring, at Myrtle Philip Community School, the students built garden beds, filled them with soil, carefully planted the seeds, and watched them grow. When they returned to school in the fall they harvested 54 kilograms of potatoes, 25 kilograms of carrots, celery, beets, pumpkins, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, onion, leeks, kale, herbs, and flowers.

Last week, with the help of very dedicated parent volunteers the students prepared and served over 100 litres of soup to 330 students and 50 teachers and parents. The students dined together at a longtable, complete with tablecloths, and each brought their own bowl so no waste was created. We live in such an amazing community, where events like this are made possible by generous and hardworking community members.

It is with my deepest gratitude that I owe so much thanks to many people who made the Myrtle Philip Community School (MPCS) Gardening Program a huge success this year.

First, the main sponsor that got us started with the garden beds was Toyota Evergreen Learning Ground. Through this, MPCS received a grant for School Ground Greening. With the grant money, we were able to put in nine new garden beds (for a total of 13 at the school) and get this amazing program going.

Thanks to: Steve from Rona for helping us stretch our budget; Jaye-Jay from Sea to Sky Soils for the amazing locally composted soil; Paul from Whistler Excavations for soil delivery; Kathleen Cunningham who donated a wheelbarrow and four garden shovels; West Coast Seeds; Executive Chef Julian Owen-Mold at the Hilton Whistler for the soup stock dinner rolls, table cloths and soup pots; The Grocery Store; AWARE; Four Seasons Resort; The Real Estate Association of Whistler; School District 48; RMOW; soup leader and teacher Jen Black; all the teachers and staff; the Parent Advisory Council and the amazing volunteer parents from MPCS.

By connecting students to the source of their food, and their community, we are helping create a more sustainable food system and a more aware society.

Christy Craig

Don't kick them out

Old-time squatting in Whistler is now romanticized.

It is an essential part of our town's history, and many now-successful locals, the mayor included, were squatters at one point. They did what they had to do to get by and didn't cause any harm in the process.

What's wrong with that?

But times change, and though times aren't any easier now (arguably much harder), squatting and even camping in your van or RV is now clamped down on.

This town has lost its way, as G.D. Maxwell said some weeks ago, "Maybe Whistler isn't for you, dude?" (Pique, July 14).

With trespassing notices handed out, and fines threatening long-term campers and squatters recently, the authorities are kicking people when they're down. These are people who are working, spending, contributing to the local economy and community, and are doing what they have to do to get by.

Some were careless with trash, but no need to punish everyone for the actions of a few.

Ah, but it's illegal you say! The law must be obeyed and not questioned.

Well, the law is cold, hard and unfeeling. Even if it is illegal for squatters to squat, it is absolutely wrong to kick people out of their only shelter at this time of year in the worst housing crisis this town has ever seen.

But I guess the law is fair, as Anatole France said in 1894, "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread."  

So, to the authorities I say: Have mercy, put yourselves in the shoes of those you are making it hard for, and if you kick someone out of their only home, the onus is on you to provide a home for them. If you can't do this, then shut up and put up and if you must go after someone, go after those who are causing harm.

Frank Lee

Ski Swap thanks

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to the dedicated staff of Whistler Blackcomb Corp., local ski shops, Creekside Market, and of course the public who supported the Whistler Mountain Ski Club's (WMSC) 32nd annual used ski swap.

We would also like to acknowledge our 120 volunteers — the parents, coaches and athletes who volunteered and worked tirelessly to set up and dismantle the used swap, answer the myriad of public questions, run our check-in and check-out and assist with Telus' free ski waxing service.

Without the support of Whistler Blackcomb, this major annual fundraising event, which supports our many B.C. ski athletes and future Olympians, would not be possible.

On behalf of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, thank you.

Dan Jepsen
Volunteer manager of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club Swap

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