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Year in review 2023

Whistler 

By Braden Dupuis

As another calendar runs out its final days, newsrooms the world over turn their attentions to a time-honoured tradition: the Blackening of the Fingertips.

Well, those still fortunate to produce a printed product, anyway.

Here in Whistler, we don’t take the community’s support for granted—your advertising dollars and your charitable donations ensure a fresh issue of Pique hits the stands each Friday, and will for the foreseeable future.

So thank you, today and always, for supporting local news.

It enables us to keep building our expansive Pique print archive—the one that will officially reach 30 years old in 2024 (and closer to 50 if you include the Whistler Question archives, also under the Pique umbrella)—and the one where we undertake the annual tradition of flipping through each and every issue, compiling all the top news, sports, and arts stories of the year.

Hence the ink-stained fingertips.

What did our review of all that old ink tell us about 2023?

Looking back on 12 months of Pique, it was a year defined by abnormal weather, of rising fees, and of friends gone too soon.

That’s only the broad view, of course. As with any year, it’s impossible to capture every moment, or give proper weight and deference to each and every headline in a tidy, end-of-year wrap-up.

This is just a snapshot; an incomplete reflection of one year of newspaper headlines.

As always and with everything, your mileage may vary.

TOP STORIES 

According to Pique readers in this year’s Best of Whistler poll, the biggest news story of the year was the closure of Village 8 Cinemas—Whistler’s only movie theatre—in the first week of 2023.

Its loss is especially painful given the rainy start to B.C.’s 2023-24 ski season, now garnering headlines across the world.

“We’ve been trying to manage this location for a long time. It’s been really, really super challenging,” Gina Facca, chief operating officer of Imagine Cinemas, told Pique last year. “It was challenging before COVID, to be perfectly honest with you … Our home base is in Ontario, and it’s difficult to manage something that’s three [time zones] away and however many kilometres away.”

Efforts to revive the theatre in the months after its closure did not gain traction, though Tourism Whistler says it plans to investigate more weather-independent activities for the resort in 2024.

The other big newsmaker of 2023 was the Whistler 360 Health Collaborative Society—the innovative new model of health-care delivery making waves in the resort.

And 2023 was a banner year for Whistler 360, between opening up new clinic space and connecting hundreds of Whistlerites with a new family doctor.

“The magic or secret sauce of W360 is the complete culture shift from a physician- and nurse practitioner-led small business model of delivery to a community-led, and governed, non-profit society model. This shifts the focus from ‘surviving’ as a small business to thriving as a multidisciplinary team that is committed to, and accountable for, the wellness of the community,” said board member and local physician Karin Kausky, in a March email to Pique

“Being part of a successful, committed, community group that has created a model of excellence, has reinvigorated and sparked joy in the entire team, both on the clinical and community side.”

In early June, a grizzly bear was tranquilized and relocated from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club after its grazing forced a rerouting of the Whistler Half Marathon, kicking off a summer of increased reports of grizzly sightings in the resort.

In August, a Pique Freedom of Information request revealed reports of Whistler grizzly encounters have effectively doubled in recent years.

In 2016, just six grizzly bear conflicts were reported in Whistler. That number jumped to 13 in 2017, before levelling off at 12 conflict reports in both 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, 18 grizzly conflicts were reported, followed by 13 in 2021.

In 2022, however, the number of reported grizzly conflicts jumped to 28, and from Jan. 1 to July 5, 2023, the COS received 30 reports of grizzly conflicts (20 of which came in June, and nine in May).

In October, community members joined forces with search-and-rescue groups from near and far in the search for missing senior Robert McKean, who went missing with his dog on the morning of Oct. 9.

The mass effort was suspended Oct. 15, with searchers turning up no sign of the 80-year-old Whistlerite, who has dementia. But the search will continue locally, said Whistler Search and Rescue’s Brad Sills.

“It’s just horrible. It really is, and you really, really, really want to bring closure,” Sills said.

“After the first couple of days you go, ‘Well, you know, he’s 80 years old, 130 pounds, he’s lightly dressed, and it’s been pouring rain and it’s cold. The survivability rate… you have to be realistic.”

AT MUNICIPAL HALL 

At Whistler’s municipal hall, 2023 was a year defined by—what else?—rising fees.

Property taxes, permitting fees, year-round pay parking, recreation user fees, cemetery fees… if you pay for it, chances are it got more expensive last year.

But when it wasn’t hiking fees, the Resort Municipality of Whistler had plenty else on the work plan in 2023.

The best decision by council in 2023, as voted by readers in this year’s Best of Whistler poll, was adopting the community’s first Housing Action Plan.

The wide-ranging plan identifies completed and ongoing efforts around housing in the resort, as well as providing a framework to guide future initiatives, and is broken into six core efforts: monitor supply and identify needs; protect and optimize employee housing; leverage municipal lands; utilize and expand financing tools; encourage the private sector; and remove red-tape barriers.

Also high on the list, according to readers, is the approval of cannabis retail stores in the resort—the first of which, A Little Bud, opened its doors in Function Junction in October. 

“I’m going to be honest with you, it’s been even better than what we expected,” said Randy Tingskou, who owns A Little Bud with his wife, as dozens of eager customers filled his shop on its first day of operations Oct. 11. 

“And we had high hopes for this, so it’s wonderful to see. But Whistler certainly seems like a cannabis-friendly community.”

Who could have guessed?

In March, public outcry over a proposed redesign of Rainbow Park sent the municipality back to the drawing board, and in May, the park officially closed for construction (with work still on track for completion in 2024).

HOW ‘BOUT THIS WEATHER? 

On a broader scale, it was a year defined by abnormal weather and a rapidly changing climate.

The summer in B.C. was marred by wildfire smoke and evacuations—though Whistler escaped unscathed with no major blazes sparking near municipal boundaries.

When it was all said and done, 2023 amounted to the worst wildfire season on record in B.C., with more than 2.84 million hectares of land burned.

The severity of the situation led local officials to mull a permanent campfire ban for Whistler in the summer months—another move lauded by locals in Pique’s Best of Whistler poll.

The unique weather wasn’t contained to summer fires alone, as higher-than-normal temperatures continued to urge local glaciers further into recession.

In September, local mountaineer, glaciologist, and “force of nature” Karl Ricker passed the torch to a new generation after 50 years of monitoring Whistler’s glaciers.

But even after all that time, Ricker doesn’t take a romantic view of his work.

“I’m a hard-nosed scientist. Glaciers come and glaciers go—that’s what’s been going on for millions of years,” Ricker told Pique. “If people have attachment to a glacier, well, they can have it, and that’s their prerogative, I’m not going to interfere. But as far as I’m concerned, glaciers have been fluctuating back and forth for millennia and it’s not about to stop.”

On the mountain, a rocky start to spring skiing operations led to a swarm of pitchforks and torches from locals and guests alike, prompting Whistler Blackcomb to rethink its local communication strategies—with encouraging early results.

And the weather anomalies didn’t subside in the waning days of 2023—the end of the year brought rain, rain, and more rain to the valley, as temperatures hovered well above freezing.

 

Sports 

By David Song

They say you win some, you lose some. 

I’d like to suggest this familiar proverb is representative of the sporting year we’ve just had. As usual, the Sea to Sky corridor was the stage (or the home base) for all kinds of talented athletes, whether they were winning championships or taking young careers to the next level. Of course, no one truly remains undefeated, and the victories we witnessed go alongside some notable losses for our community. 

Let’s look back at some of 2023’s biggest highlights and lowlights, beginning with the Nordic Junior World Ski Championships. 

Cleared for takeoff in Callaghan Valley 

The last time Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) hosted a large international competition with multiple disciplines on the fly, it was 2010 and Brian McKeever was on his way to three Paralympic gold medals. It happened again from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5, when FIS brought the Nordic World Juniors to town—the first time since 1997 said event had taken place in Canada. 

More than 500 athletes from 37 nations descended upon Callaghan Valley for 10 days of skiing, shooting and jumping. Scandinavian teams took command of the field, but a few Canadians also made their presence felt—none more than Alexandria Loutitt.

Not long after her 19th birthday, the ski-jumping phenom ascended to victory in Whistler as the only one to break 100 metres on both of her massive leaps. She thus became the first Canadian female ever to earn World Juniors gold in her sport. 

Loutitt wasn’t done there. In March, she became the inaugural woman to win a senior World Championship while representing the Maple Leaf. That breakthrough in Planica, Slovenia also made her the just second athlete, male or female, to clinch both Worlds and the World Juniors in the same year. 

Canadian ski jumpers train in Slovenia due to a lack of funding and opportunity at home. After her championship performance in Whistler, Loutitt reminded her followers that WOP—which boasts the only operational ski jump in Canada—is a world-class facility deserving of support. 

Meanwhile, Xavier McKeever returned to his uncle Brian’s old stomping grounds as a national-level cross-country skier hungry for a return to form. The Albertan fell short of his own high expectations with two top-16 results in his individual races, but joined Alison Mackie, Luke Allan and Alexandra Luxmoore for sixth in the mixed team relay. 

Indeed, Canada’s best skinny-skiing efforts came in the relays. Rémi Drolet, Liliane Gagnon, Jasmine Lyons and Sasha Masson replicated McKeever and company’s effort with their own sixth place in the U23 mixed relay, falling just 32 seconds short of bronze. Gagnon and Lyons had previously secured two of the Maple Leaf’s best individual finishes with 12th and 13th, respectively, in the women’s 20-kilometre mass start, while 2022 Olympian Drolet ended up 17th among men. 

It’s an encouraging sign of collective potential for a nation seeking new stars in the wake of five-time World Championship medallist Alex Harvey’s retirement. 

Furthermore, the World Juniors generated a wave of momentum that has buoyed local Nordic organizations. Dan Wilson, president and treasurer of Whistler Nordics, encountered club members of all ages on location throughout the event. Today’s youths do not remember the Vancouver Olympics—if they were even alive at that time—but watching Canadians test their mettle against the world has no doubt inspired some to focus on their own athletic journeys. 

The people versus UTMB 

As the Sea to Sky’s Nordic sport realm welcomed a world-class event with open arms, its trail-running community lost a gem when Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford announced the demise of Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) on Feb. 10 under controversial circumstances. The longtime Coast Mountain Trail Running (CMTR) frontmen cited a lack of timely communication and unexpected new rules from Vail Resorts as key factors in their decision. 

WAM had been a marquee contest for six years, offering a variety of distances up to and including a 100-mile ultramarathon that wound its way through the Fitzsimmons Range. Scores of athletes from around the globe loved the race, with Pembertonian Maude Cyr describing it as “the most beautiful” she’d ever been part of. 

More than just a fan favourite, WAM was also a relevant economic driver. The 2022 iteration created $717,000 in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the municipality of Whistler, $971,000 for British Columbia, and $1.2 million for Canada. It also generated nearly $273,000 in local taxes, $337,000 in provincial taxes, and just under $416,500 in federal tax revenue. 

Such benefits notwithstanding, Whistler Blackcomb’s senior communications manager Dane Gergovich noted in a mid-February email that his organization “identified a number of safety issues that were compounded by the lack of a medical plan that would adequately meet the needs of a race of this size and scope.” Gergovich also wrote that CMTR leadership cancelled the event after being asked to deliver a revamped safety plan by a certain deadline. 

But wait, there’s more. 

In late October, the UTMB Group and Ironman Group announced Ultra Trail Whistler: its first Canadian World Series race. The news prompted Robbins to tell his side of the story in painstaking detail with a blog post accusing Vail Resorts of intentionally hastening WAM’s eradication. Robbins writes that Vail decision-makers failed to communicate clearly, then ambushed CMTR with demands superfluous to the operation of a trail-running event.

Robbins’ post immediately became a must-read for trail runners across British Columbia and beyond. Legions made their fury known, decrying UTMB and Ironman while voicing staunch support for CMTR. 

Tom Barlow called for a total boycott of Ultra Trail Whistler and the Everesting event (which Vail had scheduled during WAM’s traditional weekend) in his early November letter to Pique. Instead, Barlow is encouraging people to back the new local race Robbins is working on to compete with UTMB.

“From Manchester to San Francisco and beyond, I’ve had people revere Robbins and the team at CMTR,” Barlow wrote. “I’d argue there’s not a place in the world where world champions run with people of all abilities, ages, and backgrounds. All of these consistently well-organized and remarkable events are supported by passionate volunteers, illustrating how deep the spirit of genuine community is. 

“The races themselves allow those who live, work, and play on these unceded territories to appreciate our local geographies and their histories. I hope Vail will choose to do better.” 

He’s hardly alone in that sentiment. 

“We had an alpine playground before you, UTMB,” said Ellie Greenwood on her X account. “Our local dedicated race directors…had a super VK, 25k, 50k, 110k and 100 miler but got pushed out last year. Good luck getting locals to volunteer, we’ll be helping at the other super CMTR events instead.”

“This is not just being met with heavy backlash in the Sea to Sky corridor or even just in B.C.,” commented Alex Dunn on Pique’s website. “This is spreading worldwide through the trail/mountain/ultra-running community. The Eastern States 100 has recently cut ties with UTMB as they were an ‘index race’ for UTMB. Others will follow.

“Gary Robbins is highly respected in the world of ultra running: one of the truly great people in this sport. The races that Gary and his CMTR team put on are always top notch. I have had the pleasure of racing in a few of them.” 

Robbins feels he’s already voiced his piece. He indicated in a subsequent blog he has no interest in an extended PR battle with Vail or UTMB, instead urging fellow athletes to continue practicing their sport in an ethical way. 

“Come race season, you do you and go and vote with your hard-earned dollars,” Robbins said.

Now, we’ll see if the passionate, multinational crowd of runners we’ve already heard from can make their stand. 

Cyclist’s paradise 

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? 

Crankworx isn’t going away anytime soon. Much the opposite, it keeps innovating with new features like the 1199 track: two-and-a-half kilometres of gnarly downhill carnage that pushes even top-flight riders to their limits. Organizers set up the Canadian Open DH in Creekside for the first time, spreading the festival beyond its historical confines in the Fitzsimmons zone. 

Two Squamish brothers became the first to conquer 1199 in an epic turn of events. Those men were Jakob and Dane Jewett, who came roaring out of the gate to win the elite and U19 races respectively. 

For Jakob, it was a long-awaited homecoming after a series of injuries that left him laid up for considerable chunks of his young career. Meanwhile, Dane expressed the intent to “risk his life” for gold before the biggest win of his life—a statement that may or may not have been hyperbolic. 

In any case, Dane crushed a beast of a track in three minutes, 28 seconds and change. That was better than anyone else in any age group: faster than his big brother, and World Cup veteran Mark Wallace (who took silver), and reigning King of Crankworx Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (bronze). 

On the women’s side of the Canadian Open DH, another Squamolian named Miranda Miller dusted off her downhill bike to grab third in front of friends and family. She didn’t come close to Austrian victor Valentina Höll—nobody did—but it was a hefty achievement regardless for a 33-year-old who’s been focused on enduro lately. 

Miller and the Jewett brothers gave Sea to Sky fans something to celebrate on the first day of Crankworx. Georgia Astle kept it rolling with an air DH silver medal. Ben Thompson earned Rider of the Day honours in the same Joyride contest that saw Emil Johansson cap off his immaculate undefeated season. 

It all built up to the festival’s last day, when Whistlerites, Squamolians and Pembertonians alike dominated the Canadian Open Enduro.

Jesse Melamed, Rhys Verner and Remi Gauvin swept the men’s elite podium, while Brittany Phelan, Miller and Florencia Espiñeira Herreros secured the hardware among ladies. Wei Tien Ho claimed victory in the U21 men’s race as Elly Hoskin won silver in the women’s U21. Another Sea to Sky sweep occurred in the men’s U17 courtesy of Mateo Quist, Mason Cruickshanks and Jack Hague. 

All six elite medallists are part of the same tight-knit group, and they probably partied deep into the night. Lord knows they had plenty to celebrate. 

Melamed followed up his 2022 Enduro World Series (EWS) championship season by bringing glory to new team Canyon CLLCTV. Verner had a coming-out party as a top threat after being viewed as an underdog for much of his career. Miller added another notch to her storied career, while Gauvin carried the mail admirably for Rocky Mountain Race Face (RMRF) after Melamed’s exit. 

Then there’s Ho, who—like Phelan—is a two-sport athlete. He showed out on home soil months after being named to the Freeride World Tour (FWT) as a skier. 

Managing director Darren Kinnaird labeled Crankworx 2022 as “the world’s largest mountain biking family reunion.” 2023 was no doubt a worthy sequel. 

Arts & Culture

By Scott Tibballs

Whistler’s arts and culture scene always has plenty on the go, and 2023 was the first full year back for just about every event you can think of. It was a cracker of a year for events in Whistler, with new books, art exhibits up the wazoo, community initiatives and more across the board.

Beloved festivals came roaring back, others endured, and the music scene was seemingly non-stop.

EVENTS 

You’d be hard pressed to find a week of no fun in Whistler. Whether it’s world-class sporting events, art exhibits or live music, there’s a little (and a lot) of just about everything for everyone. Events seemed to either be making a glorious comeback, or were celebrating a big year for longevity in 2023.

The year started with the Snowed-in Comedy tour back in Whistler in January, becoming somewhat of a staple of the new year.

Whistler Pride is another staple of the winter season, with hundreds of fabulous locals and visitors alike taking to the slopes, and bringing a little rainbow goodness to town through late January in what was the festival’s 30th year in Whistler.

The Point Artist-Run Centre’s Winter Carnival kept the party going in February, returning for the first time since 2020 in an all-ages festival of fun.

It was a year of milestones for the stand-out events on the annual calendar, with the Whistler Children’s Festival celebrating 40 years in May. As one of Arts Whistler’s original major events, it has come a long way in the decades since its launch, turning into an integral family-friendly landmark event over the years.

The World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) returned in a “pared back” form for 2023, following a few years of scaling-back, and then the pandemic. Inspired by love for the mountains and everything about mountain culture, WSSF, presented by Gibbons Whistler, will be back yet again in 2024.

Of course there were also Canada Day festivities—although the RMOW nixed the parade for a third year running, much to the dismay of locals, there is always plenty to do in the village and along the stroll.

The Whistler Village Beer Festival celebrated 10 years of operations in September, while Art on the Lake returned in 2023 as well—a “uniquely Whistler” event made up of live music, art demos and performances for all ages… on and around Alta Lake. The homegrown interactive art exhibit proves quite the challenge for planning. But who doesn’t want something a little quirky to make the world more fun?

A regular event of province-wide fame, the Whistler Writers Festival, did its thing in October, drawing in a bevy of literary talent, giving readers and writers in the community their annual opportunity to feast on ideas, while also collecting inspiration for their own creativity.

VENUES 

What’s a whole raft of events and happenings without the places that make it happen?

The Audain Art Museum hosted The Collectors’ Cosmos in the first part of 2023, an exhibit of 170 works of 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish prints. It was in stark contrast to the exhibit that came right before it, Out of Control: The Concrete Art of Skateboarding, and represented the range of art and creativity the museum wants on show.

The pieces featured in the exhibit offered not only a glimpse at early Northern European printmaking, but also a look at what life, science, society, and even the landscape was like during that period.

Still with Audain, the gallery expanded its Emily Carr collection in 2023, adding Survival, a 1940 28-by-23-inch oil on canvas work by the famed Canadian painter.

Then there was the Flowers from the Wreckage exhibit from July to October, while the museum saw out the year with the Gathie Falk: Revelations exhibit from November through to early 2024.

The Point Artist-Run Centre had a busy year, too, with its flagship event, the Flag Stop Theatre and Arts Festival making a reliable return in August. Don’t forget all the Spring Artist Sessions through March, all the music jam sessions, and a whole lot of art in its busy calendar.

Staying with art, the Maury Young Arts Centre kept a full calendar of events and exhibits through the year, ending with Andrea Mueller’s Inconsistent Memory exhibit.

In the music scene, well, there was a lot. After years of not much, and 2022’s relatively slow start, 2023 was the year of the party.

The Summer Concert Series was a hit as usual, with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra kicking off the party in June, and then popular artists like Dear Rouge, Bruce Cockburn and more keeping the music going all summer.

COMMUNITY 

Whistler once again opened its heart in 2023, with the community’s diversity on display from January through to the end of the year. 

The resort’s growing Ukrainian community welcomed the Orthodox new year in January, a year into the Russian invasion back home.

Whistler businesses were hard at work being innovative and creative, while some integral local businesses changed hands to loyal employees—like Armchair Books, which was sold to longtime staffer Sarah Temporale back in March, taking on the mantle from the Ellis family which ran it for 41 years.

The Sea to Sky got its own little love letter from author Bronwyn Preece in her book, Sea to Sky Alphabet, which wove the characteristics of the region through an educational tale about more than just the region’s beauty, but its character and spirit. There were plenty of other locally-sourced books launched through the year.

Rimrock Café also changed hands, with Chris McKinney and Steve Maile taking over after having worked there for more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, the owners of Roland’s Creekside Pub were inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame in July.

In sad news for the Whistler news community, Paul Burrows, who founded the Whistler Question (Whistler’s first newspaper of record, and a precursor to today’s Pique) died in March.

On the community group front, the Whistler Children’s Chorus was going strong as of September, recruiting new members and getting into the swing of the season. 

 

Pemberton

By Róisín Cullen

The clash between nature versus progress is always a recurring theme for Pemberton—and this year was no different. 

Borders come up frequently when talking about current affairs in Pemberton—the border between downtown and the natural beauty that surrounds us; the border (or electric fences) between local farmers and grizzly bears; and, most importantly, the borders, real and perceived, between Pemberton and the Lil’wat Nation.

It is clear the two communities are moving forward to a shared future, and are in the middle of a period of substantial change.

GOING DEEPER 

In September, the Village of Pemberton (VOP) paused its Official Community Plan review process so officials can focus on building a “deeper and more meaningful” relationship with the Lil’wat Nation.

The VOP is now using the extra time to renew its protocol agreement with the Lil’wat Nation, as well as gain a better understanding of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The pause is also being used to foster a more collaborative relationship between the two parties.

“[The OCP update] requires deep and meaningful consultation with Lil’wat Nation and its leadership and its community,” said Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman. “We recognize that this is not only because our lands are unceded, but also because our futures are tied together. We share values. We share goals … a water source, emergency preparedness, the overarching health of our communities, the love of the land.

 “For all of those reasons, council took the decision to put a pause on the OCP process to work with Lil’wat Nation on a renewed protocol. This is the first step in this meaningful consultation.”

With the move, council once again stressed just how important its relationship with the Lil’wat is—”Cultivating Trust” is one of five broad strategic priorities for the remainder of council’s term, outlined in its Strategic Plan. 

ROAD TO RECONCILIATION  

The sudden closure of Joffre Lakes in August, prompted by two local First Nations, made headlines all over the world.

The Líl’wat Nation and N’Quatqua First Nation announced they were “shutting down” access to the park in a joint statement on Wednesday, Aug. 23. In a statement sent to Glacier Media the following week, the Nations said their access to resources has not been prioritized.

The tourism boom of Joffre Lakes and the so-called Instagram log was a great example of a debate going on all across Canada. Interestingly, many school children in Xet’òlacw Community School only visited the cultural site for the first time this year. 

“I like Joffre Lakes because it’s colourful and beautiful,” one student told Pique. “When you go there the birds land on you because they are so used to tourists feeding them. They might forget how to feed themselves. I like it when it’s quiet. When it’s busy, there’s a lot of garbage.”

Lil’wat Nation Chief Dean Nelson compared Joffre Lakes to an amusement park in an interview with Pique in October. It’s a commodity for them,” he said. “People think they have to be there, to take the picture there.” Nelson suggested a year-round closure of the park could be explored in the near future.

Wild, wild horses 

Talk of wild horses in Pemberton has dominated Facebook posts, coffee row, and council meetings for the past few years. Cultural differences, multiple jurisdictional boundaries, drivers disobeying speed limits, an unwanted highway, and debates over where these majestic animals belong have divided the community. 

This fall, two separate collisions on Highway 99 led to the death of two horses and an injured driver. The collisions prompted many in Lil’wat Nation and Pemberton to take action to save the horses and protect drivers.

Pique spoke to the owner of the horses, Wayne Andrews, for a Dec. 8 cover feature. Andrews said enclosing the horses would go against everything he stands for. 

“That’s like colonizing us,” he says. “That’s really mean and cruel. It’s like keeping horses on a reserve. We have a hard time speaking out, because we are so used to being punished. It’s all from the boarding schools.”

The issues surrounding the wild horses aren’t going away any time soon, and it will be interesting to watch communities on both sides of the border work together on solutions in 2024. 

Grizzly bears were also pushing borders in Pemberton this year, with some families in Pemberton Meadows saying they are living in fear. Residents say they are worried it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or killed. 

Experts with the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative are helping people learn how to co-exist with grizzlies, but are calling for a designated Grizzly Bear Management Specialist in the Sea to Sky.

At a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board meeting in the fall, Area C Director Russell Mack said the province needs to take action during the bears’ hibernation period. He pointed out a grizzly bear was frequenting his backyard at the time of the meeting.

“Something serious is going to happen,” he said. “These are apex predators. They are not pets as people are making them out to be. Somebody is going to walk into one at the wrong time.” 



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