Letters to the Editor for the week of September 8th 

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ICBC to increase rates

ICBC is asking the BC Utilities Commission for a 4.9-per-cent increase in basic vehicle insurance premiums. This is in addition to the 5.5-per-cent increase approved last year for a total of 10.45 per cent over two years. I doubt if anyone has received a similar increase in salary over the  same period. As a retiree on a fixed income this latest increase would be hard to fit into my budget. Furthermore, I rather doubt that the BC Utilities Commission would approve similar rate increases by a private company holding  a monopoly in a 'public service.' If more funds are needed those at fault for accidents should pay!

In addition, with the closing of the Squamish Claims Office, those of us living in Pemberton, Whistler or Squamish must now travel to North Vancouver for an appointment with a claims adjuster. Less service at a higher rate!

I personally have never had satisfaction in dealing with ICBC in two claims in which I was not at fault, neither settlement was sufficient to pay the full amount of repairs. The attitude of ICBC was: "Here is our settlement, take it or leave it." With the ICBC monopoly, of course there is nowhere else to go.

Finally, if the BC Government cannot run their insurance business without these large rate increases, perhaps they should get out of the insurance business. I have friends in other provinces who pay far less for similar insurance coverage, and receive more customer satisfaction with claims, with a private insurer.

Ric MacDonald
Whistler

Thanks for the magic!

The Point Artist-Run Centre would like to thank all of those who helped make the 5th Annual Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival such a success. The festival wouldn't be possible without our two presenting sponsors, Gibbons Life and the BC Arts Council, our major sponsors Nesters Market, Arts Whistler, Local Automotive, Pasta Lupino and Burnt Stew Computers, as well as ongoing support from Whistler Brewing Company, Whistler Roasting Company and Armchair Books, and our media sponsors Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler Question and Mountain FM.

As in our first year of the festival, the Perseid meteor showers made a spectacular appearance on the opening night, this time behind the outdoor screening of Fido following the Lantern Boat Parade. Friday afternoon saw an entertaining performance by 12 talented young actors in Ira Pettle's Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Camp, and the evening featured the premiere of Brandon Barrett's play, Between Two Tall Mountains, staged both inside the lodge and outside on the floating stage.

Saturday evening was enlivened by the always-popular Get to the Point Improv Troupe, followed by Classic Scenes with a Twist!, the culmination of eight emerging actors working for two months in a mentorship program with instructors Angie Nolan and Ira Pettle.

Roving musicians Aude Ray, Bethany Parsons, Monty Biggins and Radim Koppitz kept festival goers entertained each evening, and the dancefloor rocked to the Hounds of Buskerville on Friday night and the Will Ross Band on Saturday night. Doc Fingers brought it all home with a wonderful Sunday afternoon of blues on the back porch.

The Point Artist-Run Centre is proud to bring so many talented artists together under one roof, and to provide working opportunities for those artists with over 40 percent of the festival budget going to artist fees. Equally important, arts festivals have a way of bringing people together in celebration of community and place through a little magic from the artists, and of course the added bonus of a meteor shower!

Stephen Vogler
Artistic Director, The Point Artist-Run Centre

Logging practices support local communities

I apologize for taking so long to respond to Louise Taylor's Aug. 11 letter to the editor, "Logging needs new plan."

I was on holiday at a friend's quarter-section property in the Interior and doing some FireSmarting work around the buildings. This is a property that has been logged three separate times during my lifetime and we are set up for the fourth time whenever the log market is right. There are black bear, moose, deer, various species of owls, and other wildlife on the property. There is a patch of old growth on Crown land just outside the property, although it looks like the Douglas Fir bark beetle might be spreading into this area judging by the new dead trees I observed last week. In addition, local range cattle graze over the entire property. We should fix the fence to avoid stepping in the manure, except that the cows help reduce the fuel hazard by keeping the grass low. I have observed this forested property continuously produce timber, range, wildlife and tremendous recreational opportunities for over 45 years. This said, there is nothing really special, or different, as to how this property has been managed compared to managing other forest land in BC. Forest professionals and companies work diligently to manage the forest for the benefit of the public and community businesses. And we are always trying to improve.

But I digress.

I stand by my last letter that states that selling logs into competitive log markets, including export markets, adds the most value to the timber resource, thereby better supporting local Sea to Sky workers, businesses and communities. The letter claims a report stating that Ontario generates more dollars per cubic metre of timber than B.C. does. While I have not seen the report, I will point out that much of the Ontario forest products industry is based on producing pulp and paper from their small trees.

In the Sea to Sky area, we also produce pulp and paper from poorer quality logs and from mill residues (wood chips). Companies try to maximize the value of the timber first by selling it to customers able to pay the best price. This includes both domestic mills and export mills if the log is deemed surplus to domestic mills' needs. These mills will make lumber, plywood, telephone poles, laminated veneer products or other building products with the residue used to make pulp, paper and bioenergy. The building products go on to be used to construct valuable homes and other structures although we stop valuing the "contribution" at the point of sale, not at the final price of the structures built from the timber. Therefore, it is not a fair comparison to compare the value of a mix of B.C. lumber, plywood, pulp chips, etc. produced from a cubic metre of timber to a tonne of Ontario paper.

We may have to agree to disagree on whether there is enough old growth left in the Sea to Sky area and whether old growth can be recreated over time. There are large areas of old growth within parks, conservancies, old-growth management areas and other areas excluded from timber harvesting. I believe that there are appropriate areas of old-growth forests set aside in the Sea to Sky area.

Carefully managing second-growth forests, including the judicial use of herbicides in some cases, encourages productive, environmentally sustainable forests that provide clean water, carbon absorption, wildlife habitat and recreational values. These managed forests tend to be the areas that are most frequently used by public as they have the roads and trails maintained by the forestry businesses.

I understand that people are passionate about how Sea to Sky forests are managed and like me you appreciate the importance of forests to our communities. I appreciate this opportunity to respond to your letters and provide you with my opinion on how best to manage these forests.

Stirling Angus,
Registered Professional Forester
Squamish

A huge thank you

Earlier this summer, the Mature Action Community held their annual summer barbecue and picnic. This event was a great success due to the generous donation from Bruce Stewart, store manager at Nesters Market.  The members of the Mature Action Community would like to extend a huge thank you to Nesters and Bruce Stewart for helping to make this event such a success.

Stacey Murl, President, Mature Action Comunity
Whistler

A simple way to ease traffic

Does anyone else think that changing our traffic lights to roundabouts would really help with the traffic problem in Whistler? I think it would be worth building one at the Creekside light and see how the traffic flow changes, then go from there.

Jean-Pierre Giroux
Whistler

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