Letters to the Editor for the week of September 24th 

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Draw your own conclusions

With the rains that just ended, I assume there were problems with rising water levels.

The municipality will probably hire consultants at a cost of thousands of dollars to solve the problem.

I would like to offer some observations, made during a bike ride on Sunday afternoon, at no cost.

The water level in Alta Lake was very high. The water level of the River of Golden Dreams was at the red mark on the gauge by the railroad bridge. Since this gauge is before the point where Crabapple Creek enters, the water from the creek had no place to go and would therefore backup.

At the south end, the channel that connected Alta Lake and Nita lake remained dry.

I'll leave the conclusions to the 'experts.'

Jim Kennedy
Whistler

'Effective altruism' not truly effective

I knew "altruism" means "the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others."

Since "others" is not qualified I thought "effective altruism" might meet the definition of an oxymoron, but I wasn't sure so I looked it up, again. Though "oxymoron" means a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction, even that definition left me wondering until I read the origin of the word.

I had thought it might be derived from a combination of "hypoxia" and "stupidity," but it doesn't. Oxymoron comes from the Greek word meaning "pointedly foolish," so "effective altruism" probably qualifies.

Singer, the Princeton professor who coined the term said, "it is based on the very simple idea we should do the most good we can" (Pique, Sept.17).

He gave as an example the Wall Street broker who gives a six-figure amount of money, half his salary, to "effective" charities. Our own Canadian example is P.K. Subban the Montreal Canadien defenceman who donated $10 million of his eight-year, $9 million-a-year salary to a children's hospital where there is now the P.K. Subban atrium.

Their apparent generosity notwithstanding, this is not the "most good (they) can do," and they weren't practicing "disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others." They were practicing calculated charity.

We're all altruistic by nature, for our own well being has always been ultimately dependent on the well-being of others, of humanity.

However, it is a weak instinct that is no match for our misguided, unnatural belief there is meaning in money and thus more meaning in more money.

Our effort to get more has created a vertical economy, essentially an erect pipe, and a cone-shaped social structure around it that sucks money from it in a torrent at the top that is diminished as it flows down through the cone until at the bottom it is a drop in each pocket. The obvious consequence is massive inequity and the critically diminished well being of humanity.

The only indication there is still a detectable measure of altruism left in humanity is the collection of ineffective, calculated charitable activities initiated by faint innate feelings we should help those in need.

While acting on those feelings creates a blip in individual well being, they do nothing for humanity, for as the rich man wrote in the Bible, "the poor will always be with us," as long as we maintain the vertical economy.

However, if we exchanged our belief that there is meaning in money for the belief that the only possible sense of meaning can be found in the "well-being" of others, we'd have a horizontal economy, no one in need, and a universal sense of well-being.

While a possibility, despite the fact our economic activities have left Mother Nature in critical condition that threatens the vestige of our well being, razing the global vertical economy seems unlikely.

Typical of people everywhere, in a month a small majority of Canadians will vote for one of three political leaders all promising to stimulate the economy presumably to keep it erect, so it "will work for everyone" (though not equally), so "every family can get ahead" (though for one to get ahead another must fall behind) and it will put "more money in the pockets of every Canadian" (though not equal amounts).

Each vote will stab the well being of humanity. Humans are such a bunch of oxymorons.

Doug Barr
Whistler

Book sale success

A library full of roses to all that came out and purchased used books at the Pemberton Book Sale on Sept. 11.

An arm full of roses to all our dedicated volunteers.

And a bank full of roses to Scotiabank for matching our $2,601.85 book donations, for a grand total of $5,203.70.

These funds will go towards new blinds for the upper windows.

Also, a special welcome to Logan Spencer Gillis born Sept. 18 at 8 lbs. 11 oz. to our dear librarian Emma, and Stu. Save the date for wine and cheese Dec. 4.

Julie Kelly
Chair/Friends of the Pemberton Library

Conservatives don't care about salmon

Twenty-six million dollars was spent on the Cohen Commission, which came up with 75 recommendations.

Out of those 75 recommendations I believe the federal government has fully implemented only one.

I think this stat shows how much the Harper Conservatives care about salmon on the west coast.

Ray Mason
Pemberton

Time for conversation on wildland fire risk by everyone

The week of Sept. 20 to 26 marks National Forest Week in Canada.

Originally established around 1920, and renamed National Forest Week in 1967 this occasion has evolved to encompass educating Canadians about the many and varied human and environmental aspects of Canada's forest resources — past, present and future.

National Forest Week remains, first and foremost, a challenge to individual Canadians to learn more about their forest heritage and support greater recognition of this valuable resource.

With this year's theme — "wildland fire" — being so relevant to the events occurring in British Columbia this summer, the Forest Practices Board challenges British Columbians to learn more about how they can help prevent catastrophic wildland fires in their communities and to take action.

Our recent report on Fuel Management in the Wildland Urban Interface highlights issues such as the limited government resources to respond to wildfires where communities are at risk, and inadequate efforts by communities to treat forest fuels to protect homes and surrounding property from wildfire risk.

In our report, the board makes a number of recommendations and suggests ideas for how to improve the situation and reduce the risk to property and lives. For example, one of the most effective actions individuals can take is to FireSmart their property.

As of Sept. 17, B.C. has experienced 1,810 wildfires, which burned over 298,000 hectares. Within weeks of the fire season start, the provincial government's $63 million allocated for fighting the fires was depleted, and the total spent now stands at $272 million — money spent reacting to fires to protect communities and infrastructure.

By comparison, our report found that just $60 million was invested in the strategic wildland fire prevention initiative over the past 10 years, with an additional $500,000 announced this past week.

Our findings highlight B.C.'s need to get ahead of the game through wildfire prevention and readiness so we can save on the costs of fighting fires and, more importantly, reduce the risks to people's homes and properties — and lives.

Most communities in B.C. have a Community Wildfire Protection Plan now, and those that don't should.

But a plan doesn't help if it's not implemented and hazard fuels are not treated.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans require sustainable funding for fuel reduction treatments and re-treatments. All parties need to find ways to treat more area effectively at a lower cost. This includes accepting prescribed burning as an efficient and effective treatment in the right circumstances and engaging the forest industry in carrying out fuel reduction treatments.

Education is also a critical component to getting property owners to take steps to protect themselves. As a result of the board's report and suggestions, BC Assessment is now looking at informing property owners about FireSmart programs in their mailout of annual property assessments.

Perhaps the FireSmart status of a property will even be recognized in property assessments or insurance rates in the future.

Is there a role for BC Hydro or other government agencies to get involved and help?

The role of local government should also be re-examined to capitalize on their strengths. Local governments do not generally have technical expertise in fuel reduction on staff, nor should every municipality.

But local governments are very good at co-ordination, facilitation and community consultation. Perhaps the province could provide the technical expertise while local governments provide co-ordination and communication?

First Nations, communities and individuals need to do their part too, in taking action to reduce forest fuel around their homes and properties. Simple acts such as storing firewood away from one's home and pruning trees and shrubs can make dramatic differences when a wildfire threatens one's property. The type of landscaping and roofing material used on one's home can also play a role in mitigating against the hazards of wildfire.

It's time for B.C. to start being proactive — not reactive — when it comes to wildland fire. What's needed is leadership to galvanize action and all parties need to get involved — the province, municipal governments, First Nations, the forest industry and individual citizens. No one party can make a difference on their own.

Our report provides some ideas and suggestions to get the prevention conversation started. Now who will step up and carry the ball? We challenge every one of you.

Details on how to FireSmart one's home and property can be found at www.firesmartcanada.ca.

Tim Ryan
Chair of BC's Forest Practices Board

One Helly good year

A few years ago, Jeff Grant had a plan to introduce Whistler runners to the sport of trail running. His idea was to hire a sadistic trainer named Chris Kennedy to lead runs on a different trail every week. Jeff thought it would be a good idea to run straight uphill for 45 minutes on some of Whistler's steeper trails, then turn around and run back down and theoretically everyone should finish together.

About 10 curious runners showed up for the first week of this torture, muttering afterwards that this was a terrible way to try to encourage people to try trail running, and why would anyone come back. But the next week, they not only all showed up again, they brought friends with them.

On behalf of the hundreds of trail runners, not only locals, but visitors as well, a huge thank you to Jeff and Helly Hansen for whipping us in to shape every summer. Hope your shoulder heals quickly.

Jim Budge & the Helly Hansen Tuesday Trail Runners
Whistler

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