Letters to the Editor for the week of September 25th 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE / TOURISM WHISTLER - Fireworks at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
  • photo by Mike Crane / Tourism Whistler
  • Fireworks at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Whistler has much to celebrate!

The resort is abuzz with:

• The recent accolades from SKI Magazine — ranking Whistler Blackcomb the No 1. overall ski destination in North America; and what promises to be the busiest and most successful summer on record — thanks to an exceptional lineup of festivals and events, increased group business, and strong marketing and sales programs, attracting both regional and destination visitors alike.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the businesses and organizations that work so tirelessly to contribute to Whistler's success:

• Congratulations to Whistler Blackcomb for receiving top marks in Ski Magazine for terrain, lifts, and on-mountain food;

• Congratulations to our resort-wide businesses in accommodation, bars and nightclubs, activities and restaurants for receiving Ski Magazine top accolades in lodging, après-ski, off-hill activities, dining and service;

• Thank you to the Resort Municipality of Whistler for its investment into festivals, events and animation through the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative, a critically-important program that helps grow Whistler's and B.C.'s tourism economy;

• Thank you to the Whistler Chamber of Commerce for its commitment to quality training for resort staff, and the upcoming launch of its exciting new Whistler Experience service program;

• Thank you to Whistler Blackcomb for its continued investment into on-mountain infrastructure, including the addition of new Whistler Gondola cabins for this upcoming winter season.

It takes a community to build a resort; it takes teamwork and trust to build true partnerships.

Thank you to all of Whistler's businesses, associations and government partners for your leadership, collaboration and support.

We may not always get it right, but when we do, the results speak for themselves.

Barrett Fisher

President & CEO, Tourism Whistler

Support heliport funding at Indulge

In the Sept. 18, 2014 edition of the Pique, there was an article about the "Construction on health care centre helipad underway" on page 13.

There is an omission in this article. It is mentioned that the project is being funded by Vancouver Coast Health and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional Hospital District — in fact, there was a $160,000 shortfall in funds from these two sources and the Whistler Health Care Foundation board voted unanimously to provide this shortfall to ensure completion of this important project.

The Whistler Health Care Foundation invites the community to help raise these funds for the heliport upgrade by supporting Indulge, an annual gala event to be held Friday, Nov. 14. Tickets and donations can be made through our website at www.whistlerhealthcarefoundation.org.

It's a fun event with the theme of "Denim and Diamonds" this year and includes a silent auction, a meal with an Italian theme and a live band.

We hope to see everyone at Indulge!

Karen Gardner

Coordinator, WHCF

School-trustee election a place to make voice heard on education

B.C.'s public school teachers have voted to accept the agreement reached between BCTF and BCPSEA on Sept.16.

This was a very difficult round of bargaining, but we are pleased that it concluded in a negotiated settlement. While the agreement does not address long-term, systemic problems created by chronic underfunding of public education over the past 12 years under BC Liberal governments, there are some modest improvements that should result in better supports for our students.

A new Education Fund should create over 800 new teaching positions across the province to improve class size and composition directly. It is our expectation, both provincially and in our school district, that all new teaching positions will provide direct service and support to students. This is why teachers were willing to sacrifice salary for six weeks — to bring tangible improvements and better supports for our students.

While teachers did not achieve all of our bargaining objectives, a very positive outcome of this dispute is the unprecedented level of engagement, not only of our members, but parents, students, concerned citizens and other members of the public who stood alongside us and showed support in many different ways.

Clearly this tremendous level of awareness, engagement and activism from the public played a pivotal role in bringing this dispute to resolution.  There is nowmuch greater momentum to work together for a stronger, vibrant, equitable public education system. 

Teachers will continue to engage with parents and the public in our ongoing efforts to create a high quality, properly funded education system.

We hope that members of the public join us in our efforts to elect strong advocates for public education in the upcoming school trustee election on Nov. 15.

We also ask that parents continue to lobby local trustees, MLA Jordan Sturdy, Minister of Education Peter Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark for improved supports in our schools, especially when you see that your child is not getting the service that he or she deserves. It remains deeply troubling that our government continues to fund public education at a rate that is $1,000 less per pupil than the Canadian average.

This is disgraceful in a province as wealthy as British Columbia. Our students deserve as many voices as possible speaking on their behalf, and the local trustee campaign this fall provides an opportune time to advocate together for public education.

In the meantime, Sea to Sky teachers look forward to returning to the work they love to do.

We also wish to extend a huge thank you to all those who supported us during this challenging period. It is much appreciated and made a real difference in boosting the morale of teachers on the line. We look forward to working with our students and meeting parents as we teach and learn together.

Carl Walker

President, Sea to Sky Teachers' Association

Change of season

Many of you are still enjoying what we have left of this beautiful season, but unfortunately a new season is upon us.

With less sunlight each day, it's time to prepare for the time of year that many people can't stand... fog-light season.

I had my first experience this morning on my drive to work. The sun had risen and I was enjoying my beautiful drive into Whistler when suddenly it hit me from behind. An F150 with crazy bright headlights with his fog lights on, presumably warming them up for winter.

Many people are confused as to what the use of fog lights is actually for. I'm here to help. They're for fog.

I guess to be more specific, they're for fog-like conditions when there is not a vehicle directly in front of you. And if you happen to encounter an oncoming vehicle, and you feel it's not a risk to your life to turn them off for a second (99-per-cent of the time), please do.

Keep the roads safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Brooks Wegner


Resources part of bright future

I write with great disappointment about West Vancouver Council's reaffirmation on Monday, Sept. 8, to ask the federal government to ban LNG carriers from the well-established shipping lanes of our coast.

As a long-time West Vancouver and Whistler resident — and a 35-year veteran of B.C.'s resource sector — I have seen how economic progress can exist in close harmony and in a complementary manner with tourism and outdoor recreation.

We live in a region that is blessed with natural beauty, but also one that has a rich history of resource development. Woodfibre LNG can build on both of these great traditions, adding family-supporting full-time jobs to the region and working to ensure our tourism and recreation operators continue to flourish.

I am disappointed that my elected representatives are putting barriers against another community's economic opportunity. Woodfibre LNG will create 100 new local family-supporting jobs, and has already committed to pay at least $2 million a year in taxes to the District of Squamish.

These jobs are important to local families, and this tax revenue is money the Squamish community — our neighbours — can use for important local services.

As an individual whose personal and professional goals include building positive and trusting relationships with First Nations, I am deeply troubled by barriers to a new sector in B.C. that also promises to benefit First Nations.

The Woodfibre LNG Project is located within the traditional territory of the Squamish First Nation. I understand that the Squamish First Nation and the Woodfibre LNG Team have been working in a trusting and respectful manner to establish a framework for continued discussions. The District of West Vancouver needs to respect this process.

As the former manager of Aboriginal Affairs and Environment for one of B.C.'s largest forest companies, I have no doubt that LNG is the natural choice to replace a 100-year-old pulp mill. The Woodfibre site has a deep-water port, access to a natural gas pipeline and BC Hydro transmission lines, and is zoned for industry.

All the communities in the corridor are already benefiting from the development of LNG sector in B.C., and as a result of Woodfibre LNG interests, this 100-year-old industrial site is being cleaned to the environmental standards of today.

This project can be developed responsibly. I am encouraged that since 1964, LNG carriers have taken more than 140,000 journeys around the world, all without a single major incident.

Furthermore, British Columbians have the experience and expertise to safely manage the movement of LNG carriers in our waters.  All we have to do is take in the view from the shores of West Vancouver to see the safe movement of vessels — more than 3,000 foreign vessel arrivals in Port Metro Vancouver in 2013 alone.

Finally, Woodfibre LNG has shown itself to be a good neighbour, meeting with people across the region — including West Vancouver Council — and listening to their concerns.   

I am confident that LNG development is good for all British Columbians, Woodfibre LNG is right for Squamish, and I urge the West Vancouver Council to reconsider its position.

Dan M. Jepsen, RPF

West Vancouver/Whistler

Sharing the wealth is the answer

Thank God someone is standing up for those poor publicly traded companies. It's about time someone stood up against the little guy and championed big business.

Maybe we should have a reduction in the already insulting minimum wage? Or maybe start flying in staff from third-world countries to displace Canadian's intent on living and working in Whistler?

If youth from across Canada knew that they could move to Whistler after getting a university degree, find a job with a livable wage and a clean comfortable place to live, do you really think we would still be reliant on Temporary Foreign Worker or Working Holiday Visa staff?

How about increasing the hotel tax to three per cent and diverting that one per cent back to the 99 per cent that are working hard to make a life in this town?

Craig Burton


Skywalk Trail amazing

An incredible new alpine hiking trail has been quietly added to the assets of our great community by volunteers from the Whistler section of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACCW).

People like Kevin Titus, Mitchell Sulkers, Roy Gutteridge, Rupert Merer, Bob Cadman, Polly French, Greg Williamson and many others have shown incredible dedication by donating their time, skills and energy to this project.

When we presented our report on Whistler Area Hiking Trails to the RMOW in January 2012, this trail was still a dream initiated by Whistler area pioneer Don MacLaurin, with enthusiastic endorsement from Kevin Titus, who did extensive initial explorations and route improvements.

Within one year from legal application, this world-class hiking trail is now built and people are hiking or running it already.

This high-alpine-hiking trail work by volunteers lead by Mitchell Sulkers was a unique experience in the history of our community.

The trail building was a huge effort by the ACCW with support from the RMOW. A temporary trail work camp at 1,500-metre elevation provided a base for the high-alpine sections of the trail. The RMOW helped with the application, with funding for materials, helicopter support and for the professional services of Boyd McTavish, who provided training of our crew and trail- routing guidance.

The new trail offers spectacular views of the many waterfalls on 19 Mile Creek, the glaciers on top of Rainbow Mountain, views of Mt. Ipsoot and views from Mt. Garibaldi to Mt. Currie. It passes through old-growth forests, along several lakes, incredible alpine meadows, and glacial moraines. It consists of two loops — the North Loop from Mountainview Drive via Screaming Cat Lake is 20 kilometres long, and the South Loop from Alpine Way via the Rainbow Helidrop Trail (Jaws) is 18 kilometres long.

It can be accessed from the yellow gate at the top of Alpine Way, from the top of Mountain View Drive or from the end of Valley Drive, also from the North via the 16 Mile FSR (high clearance 4x4 vehicles only).

We hope that this new trail will help to promote alpine hiking in our resort.

We also hope very much that people will respect the very fragile nature of this hand-built trail and will not ride on it as it has not been built for bikes or motorized equipment.

We have supported new alpine trails with hard surfaces that are being developed for mountain-bike riding on Sproatt, and we hope that WORCA in return will help us in getting the word out to their members that Skywalk is a hiking trail only and is just not built for bike use.

We would like to express our deepest respect and gratitude to all the people and supporters involved in this project. I am very touched and impressed by the friendship, dedication, effort, personal sacrifices and devotion you all have contributed in creating this awesome new trail.

Kurt Mueller


Fair wages will go long way to addressing worker shortage

You say this as if all of a sudden out of nowhere you have rushed to the rescue of the "business." If anyone has been reading your comments/opinions since this topic has come around, Mr. Val Litwin, your viewpoint has always been from the business point of view. In essence, is that not your job to represent the businesses that participate within the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, so... spare us the drama.

It amazes me how focused all of your stats/data/graphs/spreadsheets/surveys have been (on) business... and how much time and money has been spent on this?

Have you thought about actually going and standing outside of the Chamber and just asking the employees that walk by their opinion on, 'Why Whistler has a hard time recruiting Canadians'and maybe ask us how we feel about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)?

You see that in itself is the problem — I don't think you have actually thought about the employee and our point of view. I think employers have forgotten that without an employee there is no employer, and if there is no employer there is no Whistler. We are the people that make this place, and we deserve to share the riches just like the business owners.

When I read all the guest letters about their wonderful time in Whistler I don't read, "Well the owner of company B was so great," what I read is, "The staff were so amazing."

I can give you one answer right now why Canadians are not moving to Whistler, they are moving to places where they can actually make and save money. Would you move to Whistler the ski town that is two hours away from the most expensive real estate in North America to gain employment with a starting wage of $12 an hour?

I think this is a wonderful time for Canadians, all Canadians, to be focused on this topic and take the time to write (federal Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism) Jason Kenney (to) tell him about your experience in Whistler and your opinion about the TFWP.

Locals should be asking the people that are running in the local election what their viewpoint is about the TFWP and fair wages in Whistler. People are listening right now and this topic is very hot.  

Mr. Litwin — I challenge you to take a pay cut for a month, bring your salary down to $13/hour, and that is being generous, and see how the greater portion of Whistler lives. Maybe you are going to have to go and get a second job and work 50-60 hours a week to get by, maybe you will have to start using the food bank to put food in your stomach, maybe you will have to share a room with one or two other people to be able to afford to put a roof over your head, or maybe you will just pack up and leave because you can't afford to "Live the Dream."

You say, Mr. Litwin, there will be "unintended consequences" with the changes to this program. What are the "unintended consequences" going to be?

Didn't Whistler just have the busiest summer ever? Room nights were up, businesses reporting a 10-12 per cent increase over Crankworx. Are those the "unintended consequences" you speak of?

Whistler Blackcomb had a record-setting second quarter and an increase in its third quarter, so that must be the "unintended consequences."

 Whistler seems to be doing just fine, numbers don't lie.  

Business will not be able to exploit an employee and will be forced to pay a reasonable wage.

Joey Gibbons (The Gibbons Group) seems to understand the logic behind all of this very well, maybe you need to go and sit down with him Mr. Litwin and get an idea on how an employee deserves to be treated.

Paul Rowe


Book sale success

A library full of roses to all the volunteers that helped with this year's Book Sale from book sorters, to book and table transporters ,to sales people and tent providers.

And thanks to all the generous donations made by book lovers who stopped by and shopped.

You all were part of the success, with $2,242.00 brought in on Sept. 12 in front of the Scotia Bank here in Pemberton.

Thank you again this year to the Scotia Bank for matching this amount.

We are also grateful for the $1,000.00 contribution from Ironman.

Julie Kelly

Chair, Friends of Pemberton Library

Wheelup thanks

I would like to thank all of the sponsors and volunteers of the 2014 21st Westside Wheel Up in support of the B.C. Disabled Ski Team. The sponsors are: Whistler Blackcomb, Edgewater, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Four Seasons Spa, Comor sports, Chromag, The Grocery Store, Nesters, Wildwood, Creekside Market, Samurai Sushi, Whistler Brewing Co., Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler Question, Gibbons Life, SMD Automotive, McCoo's, Sabre Rentals, FanatykCo, The Fix, Evolution, Whistler Bike Co., Southside Diner, Sportstop, Summit Sport, Whistler Village Sports, Black's Pub, Araxi, Rimrock, Toad Hall, Purebread, Starbucks, and Comfort Foods.

I would like to thank all of my friends who volunteered for the Westside Wheel Up. This has become a community effort.

Phil Chew


Pemberton teachers thankful

The teachers at Pemberton Secondary School and Signal Hill Elementary would like to thank Michel and Martha for their generous donation of grocery store gift cards for the teaching staffs at both school.

Your kindness on the picket line last week was greatly appreciated and came at a very needful time.

The staffs would also like to thank the community for their donations of treats, words of encouragement, and honks of appreciation. We appreciate your support.

Karen Tomlinson, on behalf of the teachers at PSS and SHE

To be humbled

Last month, Pemberton had the honour of hosting just over fifty scientists, specialized in their fields, from near and very far, as an extension of the Whistler Naturalists annual BioBlitz event.

This is the first time Pemberton has co-hosted this event. As the scientists unloaded from the bus, the butterflies in my stomach took flight. I consider myself an OK self-taught naturalist — my formal school training only dabbled into scientific components. I was nervous. Would they be interested in what they found here? Do we, do I, have anything to contribute to their wealth of knowledge?

We walked through bathtub trail as I have a hundred times before. This time it was at a snail's pace with half a dozen or so mycologists — those who study fungi. The sight of a fruiting fungal body on the forest floor brought on a language and vocabulary more or less foreign to me. I observed things I never even knew existed such as fungal spores on an alder leaf.

I learned that over 90 per cent of all perennial plants depend on fungi for their existence, and of the millions of fungi that exist, many only fruit and are visible to the passer by once in every 20 or 30 years! The rest of the time they are present underground.

Later in the day, I was amazed to learn that in B.C. we have about 75 different species of dragonflies, and about 50 of those species exist in Pemberton. Further, most of these species spend the first two to five years of their life underwater as eggs or nymphs. Once they emerge, they delight us in their flight for just three or so days to lay eggs, completing their life cycle, and die.

As we sat on the banks of the Lillooet River at the end of the day having lunch, Lil'wat members Lois and Lex Joseph brought on goosebumps as they whole-heartedly preformed their Welcome Ceremony for these visitors. I looked in front of me. The accumulated depth of knowledge held within all of these individuals sitting on the riverbank was overwhelmingly staggering.

Imagine if one person could hold all of that knowledge? Imagine if one person could know all of those various aspects of nature in such an intimate way — to know the minute details of one species of slug, in combination with the food they feed on, and what feeds on them — and so on. I was humbled. How much there is to know! How much I have to learn in order to better understand nature.

A very big thank you to all the scientists and the Whistler Naturalists from Stewardship Pemberton Society for including us, and the Pemberton ecosystems this year. And thank you to everyone who came out to the public walk and those who contributed to make this event amazing. It truly was an honour.

Dawn Johnson

Stewardship Pemberton Society Coordinator


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