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Beautiful, but hardly pristine

Signs an eyesore; Highway guy humbled; Hydrogen follies; Our dangerous experiment

Beautiful, but hardly pristine

This letter was addressed to Archie Riddell of the provincial Environmental Assessment Office. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

On April 11th I had an amazing ski into Madley Lake from Alexander Falls on the existing road/trail. The snow was melt/freeze in the morning and a bit chewed up by a snowmobile tour the previous day. After the turnoff to Wood Lake it was perfect corn snow up to Madley Lake. I skied up above the north end of the lake to about the 1,100 metre elevation. This area is beautiful and opens up into sub-alpine glades with lots of potential for ski touring into the alpine area above. I think VANOC has made a good choice in making this one of our legacy trails.

The Whistler Nordic Competition venue has been compared to the previous Olympic Venue in Canmore. One point I like to add is that Canmore receives little natural snow and could not operate without snowmaking. Whereas I measured 270 cm at Madley Lake. There will be good skiing into May this year, go check it out. The view from the competition area is awesome and when people come here for the nationals next March they will be blown away.

Some people may not consider me to be an environmentalist, but I have been skiing and hiking the backcountry in the Sea to Sky corridor since 1984. I know three things about grizzly bears: a) They hibernate in the winter; b) An adult male has a range of up to 200 sq km; c) If you're hiking above Callaghan Lake and you get between a mother and her cub you're in big trouble. I am confident that VANOC can develop a bear management plan to deal with this issue.

The Callaghan is a beautiful valley, but it is not pristine. I skied the logging road to Wood Lake with my friend Boyd because it was groomed for snowmobile tours and was surprised to see a clear-cut of approximately 20 hectares. The road to Madley Lake was originally built for mining. The day I skied in there were 35 private snowmobiles and 12 from a tour operator, and a snowcat.

I totally support VANOC’s plan for the Callaghan to become a non-motorized area and to stop logging after the trails are built. As a taxpayer  I think the $2 million of federal and provincial  funds budgeted for the legacy trails will make a great investment into a world class ski area, one that I hope to ski with my friends and family for next 20 years.

Rene Long


Whistler deserves better

This letter was addressed to MLA Joan McIntyre. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

I wanted to write to you personally to let you know how outraged I was when I saw the signs that have been put along the highway throughout Whistler identifying the Olympic venues. These signs are without a doubt some of the ugliest things I have ever seen, they are huge and totally out of scale to the resort, not to mention that there is no recognition of the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Host Resort Community designation that we received. If this is the type of behaviour that we can expect from the province and the federal government for our participation in the Games, I would say let's NOT participate!

I have no intention of looking at these for the next three years. I will be starting a letter writing campaign to rid ourselves of these eyesores and put something in place that this world class resort deserves — perhaps like the beautiful sculptured signs Vancouver has.

Hope to hear back from you soon.

Laurie Vance


Tracking Whistler’s actions

Re: “The myth that we care” column from the May 3rd, 2007 edition of Pique.

Thanks to G.D. Maxwell for highlighting the importance of taking action to mitigate climate change in his most recent Maxed Out column. For those who want to learn more about some of Whistler’s actions and our 2005 performance related to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (among other community trends), please visit Keep an eye on the site for the 2006 data to be released early this summer.

Dan Wilson

Whistler Monitoring Program Coordinator


Spare a thought, lend a hand

For those of you that do not know yet, the happy highway guy has been hurt on the job.

I'm sure you know him or have heard of him, as many of you travel the highway a lot and are in tune with the type of energy this crazy man gives off. He usually signs and dances while he holds the "slow" sign. He was voted Favourite Whistlerite in 2003.

After talking to him today for my first time, I was informed that he has a slipped disk in his back and his work is debating the injury. Apparently he lives alone (his wife of 17 years just left him) and has five kids.

I figured this is a good time to help out a man who works hard, loves life and lives in our community.

You can donate your bottles to a bottle drive held by Janeen (604-892-5482) or you can donate to him personally at Ben Richards, PO Box 3499, Garibaldi Highlands BC, V0N1T0, 604-848-5408. Anything is something to him right now.

A wise woman once told me that: "If we all do a little we can accomplish a lot!"

Joanne Van Engelsdorp


Hydrogen highway potholes

The feature article from the April 26 th edition of Pique, on hydrogen fuel cell technology, was a reminder of not only the power held by this lobby, but of the naivety held by our media and politicians. After many years studying environmental science and specializing in air pollution related issues, I am burdened by many unfortunate truths regarding our believed keys to climatic salvation.

Firstly, hydrogen isn't a fuel as much as it is an energy carrier — which is why it is used in “cells” (batteries) and doesn't require combustion. But, H 2 doesn't exist in its pure form in nature; instead it is a main (molecular) component of fuels such as gasoline, natural gas and other petrochemicals — the reason our climate is in such a mess in the first place. It's a Fact: that it takes more energy to extract hydrogen from water than the resulting hydrogen stores. That can't be changed; it's just a law of physics. The energy required to extract H 2 from natural gas is a little more efficient. You cannot get hydrogen from renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.), but you can waste these clean energy sources on extracting hydrogen from fossil fuels. It's a Fact: hydrogen fuel cell technology increases our dependence on fossil fuels.

After the hydrogen has been removed, all that is left of the natural gas is CO2, the same amount that would remain if we just burnt the gas as fuel in the first place (and remember climate change is a global issue). It's a fact: H2 doesn't reduce total emissions of anything (even CO2) it simply switches the source of emissions from the transportation sector to the extraction and refining sectors. Generally, the cleaner a fuel is at it's point of use, the dirtier it was somewhere else. The energy sector proposes to use underground injection (storing the waste CO2 in underground chambers or depleted petroleum reservoirs) but where will we get the energy do that? Are we really going to have an endless supply of renewable power to make all this “emission-free”? Not to mention the non-CO2 air pollutants associated with fossil fuel extraction that will continue to be released in the name of supplying us with “clean” hydrogen.

Not only are hydrogen fuel cells energy expensive, but this highway into the future will likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Hydrogen cannot be transported using existing pipeline or fuelling station infrastructure — this all needs to be built. It is true that hydrogen has been used safely by industry for over 50 years. Hydrogen fuel cells are a great way to store energy that would otherwise be wasted in forms such as heat from industrial processes. But industry uses all sorts of hazardous chemicals. Hydrogen is still an explosive gas (more so than natural gas or gasoline) and would need to be handled by trained professionals — that's an expensive fuel-up.

I would prefer to see the same amount of energy, money and publicity go into petroleum refinery upgrades that would reduce industry emissions and triple gasoline combustion efficiencies. Or, policy to limit automobile size and fuel usage.

Canada is soon to be the world's leading supplier of both oil and natural gas. If climate change is a global issue and we all share the atmosphere will driving trendy fuel cells somehow help when ballooning populations around the globe drive around on our dirty oil? It's a fact: hydrogen fuel cell technology is a threat to the health of the planet and the economy.

Judi Krzyzanowski

PhD Candidate


Blind rush to sustainability

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news regarding the proposal for Hydrogen as a fuel source, but apparently the blind rush toward "sustainability" has some folks believing they can defy physics and the natural world.

Some basic research will reveal the facts of this medium as an energy source. The following is point one from the Stanford University website FAQ regarding this subject: "Hydrogen is often advocated as an energy medium. Here is a relevant FACT. Hydrogen does not occur free in nature in useful quantities. It has to be made, usually by splitting water — H2O — to get the hydrogen. This requires all the energy you are going to get from burning the hydrogen and a bit more on account of inefficiencies. Therefore, hydrogen is an energy transfer medium rather than a primary source of energy. Hydrogen is obtained by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The energy to split the water should be nuclear or solar. Nuclear is cheaper."

Considering the number of sunny days in B.C. I am left wondering where the nuclear faculty is to be built? Construction will have to commence rather soon in order to fuel the multi-million dollar fleet of buses arriving for 2010. The B.C. government does have Bill 30, which allows this facility to appear wherever they want, so at least any opposition to location shall be dealt with swiftly.

Fossil fuels can also be utilized to manufacture hydrogen, but this takes double the amount of end product to manufacture.

Another interesting fact is the proponents of this fuel source have something in common. Profit.

Apparently our premier has been swept off his feet by Governor "Pump you Up" Arnie. I sincerely hope the rest of our elected representatives heed the advice of our own Eckhard Zeidler and give this notion a second look.

Accountability to taxpayers needs to be phrased as often as sustainability

Steve Anderson


Our dangerous experiment

Every child in elementary school knows that it is bad to cut old growth trees for any purpose. But sometimes, the adults who teach this virtue forget to take a real action in protecting them. Anybody who watched Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth , remembers that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts like a stock market graph. The high points will be during winter months in Canada and the low points will be during our summer months. This is due to the way our planet revolves around the sun. During the high points of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere we pretty much rely on the rainforests located south of the equator to keep the carbon level in the atmosphere low. Has anyone in Canada thought about the effect of deforestation in these rainforests?

If we buy rainforest products like hardwood flooring or furniture from countries like Indonesia or Brazil, we probably never thought that we are all responsible for diminishing the capacity of our natural carbon storage at the time when we need it most, our winter months. Here we are talking about replanting trees and forcing our industry to store carbon below the ground to offset greenhouse gases emissions, and yet we are happily buying rainforest products from earth’s natural carbon storage.

Even worse, we support the Kyoto protocol that encourages developing countries to replant trees by giving them “credits” but gives no incentives for maintaining the existing ones. So, naturally these countries cut their existing trees to fuel their economy and collect “payments” from the international community to replant trees. Even your third-grade child knows that trees planted yesterday are not the same as trees that have been around for centuries. Ironically, this is exactly what is going on in our global trades of goods and carbon credits.

Make no mistake, the people and the governments of developing countries also know that cutting their old growth forest is bad for them. It is not only bad for their rich biodiversity but it is also bad for their economy. They know that they sell their timber for tiny fractions of what the North American customers here pay in the local hardware and furniture stores as finished goods. But, they have no other choice.

They will have another choice when the public in North America demand their governments ban the trade of timber from rainforests and start to pay compensation to rainforest countries for the safekeeping of our natural carbon storage. Why destroy our natural carbon storage, which works really well for ages, and replace it with artificial ones in our own backyards? Why destroy our biodiversity that has been the natural source of our medicines and replace it with excessively priced, lab-grown substances to cure our illnesses? Even your child knows this does not make any sense at all because they know that we are experimenting with their survival on this planet.

Jay Wahono


Nice gig being a B.C. MLA

If you blinked too fast, you probably missed the announcement from Victoria last week in which a government-appointed panel recommended that our MLAs receive a 29-per-cent increase in basic salary, taking them to $98,000/year. The premier is entitled to a 54-per-cent rise in salary, bringing his annual earnings to $186,200/year.

Not bad for a group that has only two sittings per year, and cancelled the 2006 fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly. B.C.’s MLAs now sit fewer days in the legislature than they have since 1972. In 2006, B.C. MLAs were in the provincial legislature for a total of 46 days and worked only nine weeks of the year.

If anything, these folks deserve a pay cut for selling out B.C.’s resources to the lowest bidder. These elected folks sold off B.C. Rail, dismantled B.C. Hydro, sold our precious rivers and energy resources to foreign and/or private owners with virtually no local government consultation. They under-funded our public health care system, brought in the TILMA (a.k.a B.C./AB trade deal) and increased the number of working poor in B.C.

Despite all these self-instilled pay raises, B.C.’s minimum wage has been frozen at $8 an hour since 2001. A new study released last week by the CCPA called for the elimination of the $6/hr “training wage” and for the minimum wage in Canada to be raised to $10 an hour — the amount that someone working full-time, all year needs to get out of poverty.

B.C.’s premier runs the province like the CEO of a large multinational, instead of an elected official who took the oath to govern our province in the best interests of its tax paying public. This increase is an insult to the working class who will end up footing the bill in the end. If our MLAs want to be paid like lawyers or doctors, then perhaps a career change is in order.

Pina Belperio


SPLASH creates a wave

“What a show!”

“Better than Disney on Ice!”


“You should take it on the road!”

“Why can’t you do this in the winter when the resort is full of visitors?”

The feedback from this past weekend’s ice show SPLASH! has been phenomenal! Thank you to all the spectators and participants for the e-mails and comments following the shows.

Every two years Whistler Skating Club presents a spectacular on ice and this year’s show was a huge success thanks to the skaters, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and in-kind donors.

Sets, props, lighting, sound, costumes and choreography come together to create an experience that participants will remember for a lifetime.

From the 3 year old turtle who didn’t want to leave the spotlight, to the seasoned competitors who shone and performed like they have never done at competition, hats off and congratulations!

A special thank you to Nobuko Nakajima, without whom I wouldn’t have survived the past two months. The costume department would never have made deadlines or received the accolades it did without her dedication.

A sincere apology to Sherry Baker, whose ad never was completed in the souvenir program. Thank you to Sherry for sponsoring the event!

Thanks to our title sponsor, Race & Company LLP and Sholto Shaw for his presentation on Saturday night, platinum sponsor McDonald’s Whistler & the RMOW, gold sponsors Nesters Market & Elizabeth Chaplin/WREC, silver sponsors WCSS/Re-Use It Centre & Whistler’s Creekside Market and bronze sponsors Sherry Baker, Skaters’ Edge Boutique & Whistler Mountain Services.

Following the event on Sunday, guest skater Gary Wong, 2007 BC/YT Senior Men’s Champion and his brother Patrick Wong (Junior Men’s competitor, 5 th at Canadians this year), held three dynamic, fast-paced, dramatic workshops for members of Whistler Skating Club. This was a tremendous opportunity for WSC’s members to learn about showmanship and bringing personality to their programs.

Thank you to everyone for the constant support and concern for my well-being.

Susan Shrimpton

WSC Ice Show Coordinator