Letters to the editor 

Men on wooden wings draw crowds

Upon reading about the crowds that came to the recent FIS ski jumping event at Whistler Olympic Park, my thoughts drifted back to the ski jumping competitions held during the 1930s on Hollyburn in West Vancouver. The recently published book Hollyburn, The Mountain & The City, mentions that the March 11, 1934 Vancouver City Championships held at West Lake Lodge brought 2,000 spectators. They all hiked up from the ferry landing at the foot of 14th Street to the West Lake Trail at the top of 15th Street - approximately the elevation of today's interchange at the Upper Levels Highway.

Scandinavian men on "wooden wings" performing their ski jumping expertise always drew crowds wherever they made ski jumps - at the mines in interior B.C. where they worked, such as Wells, Quesnel and the big Nels Nelsen jumping hill at Revelstoke, and on Vancouver's local mountains. Although Grouse Mountain had the first ski jump trestle, Hollyburn was considered the "ski jumpers' mountain," having five ski jump trestles over those early 20th century decades.

Many ski jumpers of that era called Hollyburn their jumping mountain. Tom Mobraaten, Henry Sotvedt and Nordal Kaldahl, the "three musketeers," were world class jumpers. Mobraaten attended the 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He had to pay his own way - no government assistance. However, his VISKI club members raised $600, a reasonable annual income for those Depression years. He came 14th in the final competition, despite an ankle injury.

He also attended the 1948 Winter Olympics at St. Moritz.

The next generation of ski jumpers, in the 1950s, included Jack Roocroft, who became North American Champion in 1950. He was slated to do well at the World Championships in Falun, Sweden but was felled by a broken leg before his turn in the final competition.

Jack still skis downhill at Whistler.
Iola Knight
Hollyburn Heritage Society

Left to eat countdown cake
As Whistler gets ready to celebrate the one-year countdown to the 2010 Olympics, it's time to evaluate how the "greenest games ever" have fared so far.

Completion of the Callaghan Valley has come with a hefty price. Between 89,000 and 120,000 trees were cut for the legacy trails and ski jumps. VANOC still refuses to commit to a grizzly bear rehabilitation legacy. However, the subdivision-size trails combined with EPCOR's new sewage treatment plant are ready to service a four-season resort to duplicate Whistler, post-2010. A developer's dream come true via the taxpayer's purse.

Over 800 trees were cut on Lot 1/9 for the "temporary" Celebration Plaza. VANOC has now scrapped the medals plaza as a cost-saving measure and we're stuck with a yellow-fenced mud pit, suitable for 4x4 monster truck rallies.

The red-listed Nesters wetland was destroyed to house the experimental refuel depot. Now B.C. Transit is stalling on their budgets and delivery timelines and rumours are swirling that the hydrogen buses will never materialize. Documents obtained from DND under Freedom of Information legislation indicate that this site will house 400 military personnel during the Games. Good use of a wetland.

Whistler's little "white elephant," the Whistler Sliding Centre, cost $104.9 million and uses 100 km of ammonia refrigeration piping and 68,000 kg of ammonia to keep the track frozen. This "fridge in the sky" requires the same amount of energy to operate as Whistler and Blackcomb mountains combined! The Cesana Bariol Sliding Centre in Torino needs US$1.1 million annually to operate and maintain, and local residents are already complaining about ammonia leaks. In these economic times, will the Whistler Legacies Society have the funds to operate this facility and are processes in place for ammonia leaks?

At first, we believed we could hold a world-class event with minimal impact on the environment, especially since ski resorts are the most vulnerable to climate change. Now it's clear that the 2010 Games are awash in "green" and that Whistler has no lasting environmental legacy. There's nothing innovative about clearing every tree in sight. Recycling, composting or building venues to LEED standards is not innovative but simply following the norm. Where are the solar panels, the compostable toilets, electric cars and green jobs that can be showcased to the world?

While I commend athletes for pressuring VANOC for carbon-neutral Olympics, the IOC cannot continue to destroy the global environment for corporate gain. Why not recycle sports infrastructure by establishing one set of facilities per country (or continent)?

While we ponder what we have lost forever, on Feb. 12, enjoy a piece of "free" 2010 countdown cake and make sure you wash it down with a glass of Kool-aid.

Pina Belperio

Looking for answers
Is there anyone out there who can enlighten me on the driving situation during the Olympics? Will I still be able to drive to Vancouver during the Olympics, or will I be landlocked in Whistler, or will there be sufficient public transport to the YVR airport where I work?

Colin Peverley

Team work saved a life
I would just like to say how well citizens, sliding centre patrollers, volley staff and paramedic crews worked to save a man's life in Lot 7 after the four-man bobsled Saturday evening.

While people were leaving a man fell victim to a heart attack. Two citizens immediately went to his aid and checked his vital signs. Another person called 9-1-1. Someone pulled their car up for lighting. All communicated well, including with the man's wife who was standing by.

Next, patrol from the sliding centre arrived and started getting I.V. ready. CPR was started and then paramedics from the sliding crew arrived. They were followed shortly by a local paramedic crew.

Things flowed along as well as could be expected under difficult circumstances - thousands of people and cars exiting parking lots all at once.

The man was stabilized, lifted and on his way to the medical centre, accompanied by his wife and family.

It was a bad way to end a great day, but it was very rewarding to see how lucky we are to have such caring, dedicated citizens, volunteers and professionals.

Al Higgenbottom

Thank God for honest people

Among all the bad news we witness every day, I would like to share my story, and show everyone that human kindness still exists.

Just few days ago I left my wallet behind at a coffee shop. Like most of us, my life is in my wallet... as well as some cash! My immediate reaction was to cancel my credit cards, as I thought I would never see my wallet ever again. But I took a chance and went back to the shop. To my biggest surprise a very kind person had immediately returned my wallet to the barista, and ALL the content was intact.

I will never know who to thank, as you have left no name but I hope you will recognize this scenario, and know how thankful I am for your honesty. May life keep you well, and return some kindness to you sometime soon.

Helene Caron

Community comes through
On Jan. 29, 2009, there was a structure fire to a house on Lakewood Crescent in Whistler, and six tenants were displaced.

On behalf of the tenants, Emergency Social Services (ESS), Whistler Fire Rescue Service, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, we would like to extend our thanks to the Executive Inn, Whistler Blackcomb Staff Housing, and Whistler Community Social Services, who were helpful during the ESS response.

Five of the six evacuees have moved into Whistler Blackcomb staff housing and the sixth has found housing.

Erin Marriner
ESS Coordinator
Resort Municipality of Whistler
Rob Whitton
Fire Chief
Whistler Fire Rescue Service

Clearing the air on energy
For many months now, British Columbians have been subjected to anti-IPP lobby groups which have been spreading false accusations about independent power projects. I have watched as the coordinated effort by unions - backed by the NDP and related organizations - oppose an industry that's bringing jobs to our rural communities. These critics have waged a war against independent power production with dishonest information.

Let's clear the air and provide facts on the topic of energy needs for B.C.

Because of poor planning by the NDP during their 10 years in office, B.C. has been dependent on imported power for seven of the last 10 years. British Columbians have been dependent on other jurisdictions, like the United States, to keep our lights on. Our government does not believe that's the right thing to do, nor should they. That's why our government is committed to making B.C. electricity self sufficient - the same vision that W.A.C. Bennett had that gave us the legacy we have today.

Despite all the claims of a proliferation of IPP projects, in actual fact there are only 46 such projects in operation, and readers should know that almost half of those were started under the watch of the previous NDP government.

Another fact overlooked by these "critics" is that these power projects pay back to British Columbians millions of dollars over the life of their contracts, for the use of water resources. It's no different than any other resource industry and the revenues the province gets back for the use of B.C.'s natural resources.

Critics are incorrect when they suggest B.C. Hydro and other Crowns are prohibited from developing new power projects. They conveniently ignore the fact that in September 2007, Columbia Power Corp. - a Crown Corporation jewel owned by the citizens of B.C. - unveiled the completion of the Brilliant Dam Expansion. The expansion provides clean, renewable energy - enough to supply 50,000 homes.

As well, how do they explain the extensive consultations B.C. Hydro is currently undertaking into the feasibility of building a hydro-electric project in the Peace region known as the Site C dam? Or the billions of dollars in B.C. Hydro's capital plan to expand and upgrade existing infrastructure?

We are creating a B.C. industry for clean, green power - that includes run-of-river, biomass, waste gas capture and wind - which will not only help us meet our needs in this province, but could ultimately help other jurisdictions reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their reliance on dirtier forms of electricity generation.

This industry brings jobs, investment and ongoing revenue to British Columbia. It has the added benefit of creating a service sector that provides jobs in rural communities. At a time of such economic upheaval, it's the height of irresponsibility for politically motivated critics to try and shut an industry down, based on a campaign of misinformation.

As the Minister responsible for B.C. Hydro - and as a proud British Columbian - I can assure citizens of our great province that B.C. Hydro is a Crown jewel. With the release of the Energy Plan in 2007, this government put the continued ownership of its assets legally into the hands of British Columbians.

Blair Lekstrom
Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Be informed
This is the first time that I've ever felt compelled to write a letter to the editor as I've never felt such anger and disappointment with something like this.

There are a few of us in this town that as much as they enjoy their winter outdoor activities as a means of staying healthy, also seek indoor physical activity to get them through the long dark days of winter. Some of us need the convenience of location, the intimacy of a smaller space, the scheduled regimen of a workout. And this means investing almost three times the amount per month of other gym memberships.

Inform gym gave us that - that is until it closed the doors, on Tuesday, Jan. 13th, 2009, turned off the lights and said they were "closed for renovations" without any warning or a heads-up given to its members. A sign was stuck on the doors, stating this simple fact and the phone message remained the same, thanking us for calling Inform gym.... Messages left were never returned. It wasn't until late last week that the phone message was finally changed to let their members know that they would be "...closed for renovations until further notice."

Now I know that I am not the only member, but am I the only one who wasn't "informed" of the closure? I was in the gym the night before with the owner and when I returned the following evening for my scheduled workout I was greeted to an unlit gym with the owner and two other men informing me that the gym was closed. Am I the only one who is four weeks behind their personal fitness goals? Am I the only one out three and a half months pre-paid membership fees that I set aside for months to save for?

I know the reality of the situation. I understand what local businesses have had to deal with, particularly this season. What disappoints me more than angers me is that the owner neglected to keep its members informed in any capacity. I personally felt invested in this business and spoke highly of it to all who asked the question "why are you looking so good these days?"

And now, I am out three and a half months worth of pre-paid membership fees and four weeks behind on my personal fitness goals. Am I alone in my anger and disappointment?

Traci Despatis


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