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A bow hunter’s perspective

RMOW hindering wildlife RE: Black tailed deer migration route through the RMOW sewer treatment plant property I would like to know what council is doing or plan to do about the aforementioned migration route.

 

RMOW hindering wildlife

RE: Black tailed deer migration route through the RMOW sewer treatment plant property

I would like to know what council is doing or plan to do about the aforementioned migration route. I have discussed this with some councillors but for those who might be unaware the situation is that deer follow new vegetation growth along the valley bottom through the STP property in the spring, crossing the Cheakamus Lake Road up onto Whistler to treeline, then in the fall return to lower elevations. Highway 99 has now formed a barrier on one side and with the river on the other side the animals are forced through the STP property. This is something I have observed for 35+ years but if you don't believe me there is a report done by Cascade Environmental commissioned by the RMOW engineering department that confirms the existence of this migration route.

So what is council doing "to enhance the environment," "protect wildlife corridors," "ensure sustainable wildlife populations for residents and visitors to enjoy?" Well quite frankly, they are doing the exact opposite.

There is a huge waste pile of material from the STP upgrade covering the riparian zone, then there are a couple of acres of prime valley bottom land clear cut for an Olympic parking lot, evident by the fact one can see the STP quite well now. This parking lot is now being used by the roads department for a dump site for their ditch cleaning operations.

How about the STP lights? Earth Hour 2010 there were 57 lights on at the plant. This is your idea of conservation and helping the planet?

Then there is the "inspirational Olympic torch" lighting on the new Valley Trail that is now a hideous Olympic leftover. Spewing light 360 degrees and visible for kilometers, these lights would never be allowed in any part of this town as they are pure light pollution. And guess what they cross? The black tailed deer migration route.

The RMOW is not enhancing; no, you are hindering wildlife on your own property - and it is not just deer, there are lynx, bobcat, coyotes, raccoons, cougars, etc. travelling through this narrow little strip of land. All the RMOW staff I have spoken to about this situation have indicated they want direction from council. With a whole lot of people and their dogs about to move into the area it would seem that some "offsetting" or "mitigation" is in order. How about turning the STP lot into a wildlife refuge. Turn off the lights at the STP, plant trees and modify all and selectively turn off some of the Valley Trail lights. Then at least wildlife would be accommodated in some small way.

The mayor has been twice around the world telling everyone how green this town is. I don't see that, all I see is hypocrisy, apathy and indifference. So what are you going to do, gentlemen?

Lyall Fetherstonhaugh

Whistler

As a long-time traditional archer, I was shocked to learn about Sylvia Dolson's plans to ban all bow hunting in the resort and beyond. This is the same person who brought us bear contraception for Jeanie the Bear. Remember these are wild animals, not our local pets.

 

I can agree with Ms. Dolson on a few points: firstly, that all crossbows should be banned throughout the province and in my eye, Canada-wide. A crossbow is a rifle stock with a bow laid across it that is held with a trigger mechanism and shot similar to a rifle. Crossbow users are typically gun hunters who are trying to get in on the early bow season, without the dedication, training and ethics of a traditional bow hunter, and many hunters fail to comprehend the limitations of their weapons.

Instead, I use a traditional bow (longbow, compound or recurve), which takes time, effort, practice and skill to master. Traditional bow hunters are in touch with their environment and their hunting surroundings.

I also practice archery - the oldest sport in the world and a designated Olympic event.

Secondly, I agree that legally shooting at bears from the Callaghan Road and Highway 99 is neither sporting nor humane. When it comes to baiting bears for viewing, Whistler Blackcomb is just as guilty since it baits bears for tourists by planting luscious grasses and clover; plants that are not native to this area. Back in the day, it was mostly salal and blueberries.

For as long as I can remember, I've picked pine mushrooms while hiking with my bow and enjoyed many a grouse dinner, hunted locally for subsistence within an hour-and-a-half walk of my home in Creekside (or hunted with my mountain bike and trailer between Lost Lake and Chaplinville). I am a hunter that judges a hunter by what he has in the freezer and not by what he/she has hanging on their walls.

The fear-mongering generated by Councillor Lamont about mountain bikers being shot in the chest with a bow shows his lack of knowledge of the sport. With the aspect and thickness of our forests, long shots are not taken, and an ethical shot is 35 yards or less.

Most of the trails in the valley were at one time either animal and/or hunting trails, long before WORCA took ownership of them. These include the Khyber, Cougar Mountain, top of Rainbow, up into Garibaldi Park and Black Tusk, the Soo, the Rutherford and the area known as "pick-up sticks."

Bow hunters can hear mountain bikers and hikers coming from over 150 metres away - farther than our bows can even shoot. There are far more injuries generated in the "trauma parks" than in a hunting incident in the valley.

How many rhythm or pump tracks have been set up on public land? As a bow hunter, I pay $150 per year in licensing fees and tags to hunt on Crown land. Maybe it's time to license mountain bikers using the backcountry. I'm sure this new fee or tax could help out our cash-strapped B.C. government.

When it comes to dogs, they are required by law to be kept on leash when entering a provincial park. Every year, there are incidences of dogs maiming and killing deer. I wonder how many of those dogs kill for sustenance.

I know my views aren't popular with many, but this is the way I enjoy the Whistler backcountry. For most archers, it's a lifelong sport, just like skiing. Remember that we all pray to Ullr, the Norse god of skiing and archery. If you piss him off, we could all be in for a bad snow year.

Curtis Christian

Whistler

 

Where's the sport?

I support and applaud the initiative and efforts of Sylvia Dolson who is currently lobbying for a ban on bow-hunting within the RMOW. Although I believe that hunting is both justifiable and necessary in less populated areas of our country, in my opinion it is dangerous and reckless for hunting of any kind to be permitted within the boundaries of the RMOW. With the number of recreational activities that take place everywhere in this community, bow-hunting should not be permitted here at any time of the year. I find it very disturbing to think that my family and friends who are avid mountain-bikers and hikers, as well as our much-loved dogs may be at risk of being shot accidentally as we enjoy the trails of Whistler.

As for Sylvia's analogy that shooting bears from a roadside vantage point is like "shooting fish in a barrel," I agree. Hunters who are truly sportsmen would not take pleasure in such activities that are clearly unfair to animals.

It is time for our elected officials to take a stand on this issue and listen to the citizens of Whistler. There is no good reason to continue to allow bow-hunting within this community.

Patricia Dagg

Whistler

 

Hunting is sustainable

I'd like to clear up some erroneous and misleading information regarding bow hunting in Whistler that was included in the recent newspaper articles. The Pique article included a photo of a mother bear and her two cubs with the caption "Under current rules, this family of bears is vulnerable to crossbow hunting." This is completely false. It is unlawful to hunt any bear less than two years old or any bear in its company.

I also read that "the wounding rate for animals shot by bows is significantly higher and they often suffer slow and agonizing deaths." What actual statistical evidence is being used to support this claim? Modern bow hunters are generally very efficient and humane, and suggesting that it is common that deer or bears are being wounded and left to die agonizing deaths simply isn't true.

I saw it stated that bow hunting is a "huge safety risk for residents and visitors" and this is also false. There is no evidence to support any claims that bow hunting is a safety risk for pedestrians or cyclists also using the area. In fact, bow hunting has been used extensively as a wildlife management tool in eastern parts of North America in and around suburban areas because it poses such a small risk. In all of Canada, incidents of bow hunters shooting other outdoor enthusiasts is virtually non-existent.

Every day the Whistler Medical Clinic receives patients that have injuries (or even deaths) from mountain biking, skiing, boarding, bar fights, motor vehicle accidents etc. Has there ever even been a patient in Whistler due to a bow hunting mishap? I have been working in Whistler for 24 years and I've never heard of a bow hunter shooting a cyclist or hiker. Clearly, the most dangerous activity in Whistler is not and never has been hunting, and there is no evidence to support banning bow hunting would make Whistler a safer place - although banning biking, snowboarding and driving cars might!

The main big game species hunted in the Sea to Sky corridor are blacktail deer and black beasr. Both deer and black bears are plentiful in this area. Hunters take a relatively small amount of animals and there is no conservation concern for these species' populations.

Both of these species provide excellent, free range, unmedicated, organic meat to hunters' families. Both species have meat retention regulations - there is strictly no "trophy" hunting of these animals, all the meat must be retained.

We hear quite a bit about "sustainability" in Whistler, and hunting wild game for food is possibly the most sustainable method of obtaining food in Whistler! Hunting in the Sea to Sky corridor has been taking place for a very long time. First Nations people have used the area constantly for centuries and still do.

There are relatively few bow hunters that hunt around the edges of the RMOW. (I've never seen a hunter at Lost Lake and I don't expect to.) There is no evidence to show bow hunters are any sort of risk to the public and suggestions that bow hunting is a huge safety risk should be viewed with a great degree of skepticism because of this.

There is no conservation concern for deer or bears in the Sea to Sky area. Rather than discussing banning bow hunting, it should be encouraged as a sustainable method of obtaining the very best healthy, organic meat for your family. A little education and some signage for hunters and all other user groups can go a long way toward mutual understanding, and would be a preferable route to take rather than banning an activity under very questionable pretenses.

The Pemberton Wildlife Association would be happy to help implement an education plan endorsed by Whistler Council.

Clarke Gatehouse

President, Pemberton Wildlife Association

 

Left hanging

I hope there is a Part II to "Whistler Council at the midpoint." At the endpoint of last week's editorial, pondering the role of local government and current state of après Olympic affairs, we are left hanging. "What the municipality could do to further business in Whistler" is the 64 million dollar question.

In preparation for the Forum's delegation to China and to host a Whistler Day, Sept. 16, at the Canada Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, we have met with several stakeholders. There is growing Whistler interest in this vast emerging market with more than 200 million sophisticated Chinese travellers and investors. But in general we find that there is little long term strategic economic thinking and poor lateral coordination across sectors.

In contrast, the Vancouver Economic Development Commission is spending over $150,000 with Mayor Gregor Robertson leading a coordinated team for three Vancouver Days at the Expo. (Interestingly we also heard of VEDC's claim to $60 million in new deals and the creation of 165 new jobs from their economic push through the Olympics).

With our MLA Joan McIntyre we are doing our best to showcase the many recreation, education and investment opportunities that exist in Whistler and the corridor for inbound and outbound commerce and exchange with China.

I suppose if we see ourselves as a "one industry town" and leave it all up to Tourism Whistler and their marketing strategies and budget all may be well. But there seems to be room for more collective action to strengthen and diversify our economic future, particularly in the innovative knowledge and green sectors, and the higher paying jobs of the future.

As well as an Official Community Plan we need an Official Community Business Plan. Five and 10 years from now where in Whistler will be the new and higher paying jobs? What innovative spin-offs and start-ups will be spawned from the intellectual and entrepreneurial resources that abound? How will local governments coordinate in the corridor to foster and encourage effective economic development?

An OCBP is one of the community projects that Leadership Sea to Sky Cohort VII, beginning in October, will be working to frame and advance. We are not the Whistler Economic Development Commission but like the Pique editorial we care about the collective health and economic well-being of post-Olympic Whistler and the Sea to Sky. We are looking forward to Part II and council after the mid-point.

William Roberts

President, The Whistler Forum

 

Offhand musings by some guy

I read Max's column with interest (I won't be sticking up for my member, Pique , July 22), and I generally agree. However, his reference to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside InSite project as a "safe-injection centre," as he quotes, is incorrect. Far from it.

I have spent nearly two years as a firefighter in the DTES, and Insite is most assuredly not "safe." The public misperception that shooting heroin or coke with a clean needle makes the act safe is bogus and misleading. It's heroin, get it? Don't confuse the use of a clean needle as making the act safe.

Overdose calls to that address are frequent to the point of being mundane by the fire and ambulance crews that work there. The problem is so much more acute, and severe, than any offhand musing by some guy that lives in Whistler. Get your facts straight, Max, before you spew.

InSite staff don't call it safe, either - it's supervised and nothing more. The use of nursing staff and Narcan (heroin counteract drug) on overdoses does absolutely zero to solving the problem of drug addiction. The rate of HIV and Hep C infection rate has dropped, which was the point in the first place. Good job. But, if you want to stop injection drug use, giving a junkie a clean needle to shoot heroin after he or she stole the money or goods to get it is hardly the solution. In fact, it's a joke. Keep your opinion on this matter quiet until you know the facts, Max.

Trent Scarlett

Squamish

 

RMOW hindering wildlife

RE: Black tailed deer migration route through the RMOW sewer treatment plant property

I would like to know what council is doing or plan to do about the aforementioned migration route. I have discussed this with some councillors but for those who might be unaware the situation is that deer follow new vegetation growth along the valley bottom through the STP property in the spring, crossing the Cheakamus Lake Road up onto Whistler to treeline, then in the fall return to lower elevations. Highway 99 has now formed a barrier on one side and with the river on the other side the animals are forced through the STP property. This is something I have observed for 35+ years but if you don't believe me there is a report done by Cascade Environmental commissioned by the RMOW engineering department that confirms the existence of this migration route.

So what is council doing "to enhance the environment," "protect wildlife corridors," "ensure sustainable wildlife populations for residents and visitors to enjoy?" Well quite frankly, they are doing the exact opposite.

There is a huge waste pile of material from the STP upgrade covering the riparian zone, then there are a couple of acres of prime valley bottom land clear cut for an Olympic parking lot, evident by the fact one can see the STP quite well now. This parking lot is now being used by the roads department for a dump site for their ditch cleaning operations.

How about the STP lights? Earth Hour 2010 there were 57 lights on at the plant. This is your idea of conservation and helping the planet?

Then there is the "inspirational Olympic torch" lighting on the new Valley Trail that is now a hideous Olympic leftover. Spewing light 360 degrees and visible for kilometers, these lights would never be allowed in any part of this town as they are pure light pollution. And guess what they cross? The black tailed deer migration route.

The RMOW is not enhancing; no, you are hindering wildlife on your own property - and it is not just deer, there are lynx, bobcat, coyotes, raccoons, cougars, etc. travelling through this narrow little strip of land. All the RMOW staff I have spoken to about this situation have indicated they want direction from council. With a whole lot of people and their dogs about to move into the area it would seem that some "offsetting" or "mitigation" is in order. How about turning the STP lot into a wildlife refuge. Turn off the lights at the STP, plant trees and modify all and selectively turn off some of the Valley Trail lights. Then at least wildlife would be accommodated in some small way.

The mayor has been twice around the world telling everyone how green this town is. I don't see that, all I see is hypocrisy, apathy and indifference. So what are you going to do, gentlemen?

Lyall Fetherstonhaugh

Whistler

 

Revisionist history

The ongoing saga over the contentious Cheakamus Crossing asphalt plant had a major escalation this week with the RMOW moving up the re-zoning to entrench the plant from its originally scheduled fall timeline, to this Tuesday. That they failed to notify any of the Cheakamus Crossing residents only strengthens the perception that it's more an exercise in muzzling the very damaging debate, rather than an attempt to streamline the municipal process.

Reading frantically through the several hundred pages of revised bylaw and environmental reports this week, I was struck by the RMOW's revisionist history of the site. Notwithstanding the extensive (and thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, public) trail of 1998 rezoning documents showing that everyone involved believed the asphalt plant to be an illegal use, the RMOW is still holding to the belief that the plant is a legal use.

One paragraph in the zoning history jumps out as being particularly enlightening as to the RMOW's attitude. "1994- IP2 zone adopted specifically for the Indian Head Quarry at Cougar Mountain. IP2 zone prohibits asphalt plant use by restricting materials to only materials mined on the parcel." I'm not sure what dialect of bureaucratic iambic pentameter they speak at municipal hall that would read a simple descriptive sentence like, "Manufacturing and processing of gravel and aggregate using only materials mined on the parcel" to actually mean, "No asphalt production here." To stress the RMOW's logic a bit, if you were to produce asphalt from gravel mined at the site, would that be a permitted use?

Listening to mayor and council (Forsyth and Zeidler excluded) speak at Tuesday's meeting reinforces the impression that they are operating in a complete reality vacuum. That Mayor Melamed and Councillors Quinlan, Thomson and Lamont have stuck to their guns so stridently despite the overwhelming evidence that they are wrong and misguided would be comical if not for the several hundred families that are moving in beside this polluting monster. Instead it's just disgraceful. That we would allow the gravel mining operation to increase in size by almost 30 acres in the name of certainty is mind blowing.

David Buzzard

Whistler

 

A legacy disappearing

I have stayed out of the discussion about the asphalt plant because, even as a future resident of Cheakamus Crossing, I thought that I was wrong to complain about the plant when I had been given full disclosure of its presence as part of the buying process.

Yes, I want it gone, and I fully support everyone who is doing everything they can to get it moved. However I'm not writing to discuss whether the plant should be moved or not. I'm writing to let the council know how unimpressed I am with their behaviour over the last year.

Back in 2009, council decided that the plant would be moved by July 2010. Yes, it was probably an unrealistic timeline, however it was still a signal to all Cheakamus residents that the intention was, at some point, to move the asphalt plant. Now some council members want to give first and second readings to decide if the quarry should be given permanent fixture and if it should be expanded to double its size! All of this seems to have been pushed through relatively fast and more importantly, it's being done prior to our OCP being completed. Their actions seem shifty, distrustful and loaded with a hidden agenda.

The simple truth is this: the athletes' village was built with the promise to be an amazing Olympic legacy to Whistler and its residents, and from what I see and read it looks like council are doing everything to ruin that legacy.

I don't normally pay an extreme amount of attention to community politics, but I promise all of the council this: your actions and decisions will certainly be judged, not only by myself but by most Cheakamus Crossing residents when it comes time to re-elect. You have the power to make Cheakamus Crossing the legacy it was intended to be, or the power to destroy it. I hope you make the right decision.

Chris Den Tandt

Whistler




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