Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Care, empathy, respect shared in loss

On April 6, 2008 I met a very sombre ski patroller named Scott Hepworth on Blackcomb’s Sunset Boulevard. He was skiing along, picking up small flowers that had been covered in new snow.

On April 6, 2008 I met a very sombre ski patroller named Scott Hepworth on Blackcomb’s Sunset Boulevard. He was skiing along, picking up small flowers that had been covered in new snow. These were a makeshift memorial for Ai Ito, the young Japanese woman who was found the previous day by Blackcomb Patrol. The flowers had been left by her many friends.

His simple act of brushing off snow showed me the care, empathy and respect that the searchers must have expended. Scott explained that the team had worked, wanting closure for Ai’s family and friends.

Thank you patrol team for your time, effort and respect for someone none of you ever knew personally.

Arigato gozaimasu.

Kenji Morita

Richmond, B.C.

A tough season, an outstanding team

After 12 years on the Blackcomb Ski Patrol I have seen many changes in the operation, tasks and professionalism of our ski patrol. Times have changed and so have we. If anything ever goes amiss with me or my family there is no agency that I would trust more with my safety than the ski patrol.

Following a tough season fraught with tragedy I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the members of the Blackcomb and Whistler patrols.

Everyone has worked diligently and tirelessly in an attempt to mitigate risk for visitors and Whistler residents alike. To those of you who paid with your bodies this season, you are not forgotten.

I watched as the search for Ai Ito was backed off while Blackcomb Patrol continued to search. A few of my closest friends located Ai and recovered her body so her family could have some peace.

The week previous I had the unfortunate task of dispatching while Blackcomb Patrol located and recovered the body of an Italian backcountry snowboarder who died in an unsurvivable fall.

It hasn’t been easy on anyone with this mayhem; the patrollers left on the mountains work twice as hard to keep us safe.

So thank you Blackcomb and Whistler patrols. I am so proud of our teams and you will remain the emergency contact number for my son.

Darlene Douglas

Blackcomb Ski Patrol

Further to Lot 1/9

RE: Lot 1 & 9: Error on the petition

I wish to express my regret that the petition regarding Lot 1 & 9 contained an error in it as it risks muddying the issues. The error is in the statement that the 6,000 seat amphitheater at the centre of the Celebration Plaza is “temporary”. In fact it is not temporary but will be a permanent installation. In my solicitation of signatures, I believe that I clarified that for persons who signed. I apologize to anyone who signed for me and was not clear as to what is going to be built. It should be noted that a significant number of the people who signed the petition for me, are asking for further discussion as they did not expect and do not value the amphitheater as the only legacy on that site that has been funded.

It should be noted that in providing for a permanent facility, the Lot 1 & 9 Task Force’s recommendations responded to community input from 2.5 years ago that a permanent Olympic legacy was desired. It is important to recognize that these volunteers, let by Drew Meredith, have taken a considerable amount of time, given of themselves and have met the mandate that they were given.

I must disagree with members of council and others who have stated that the petition is in error when the petition implies that taxpayer money is involved. It is clear that proceeds of the Hotel Tax are to be spent on this project and it is my understanding that the proceeds from the Hotel Tax, although ear-marked for tourist-related expenditures, belongs to the taxpayer. Unless there is some other party that lays claim to these funds then it is correct in stating that taxpayer funds are being used.

Thank you Councillor Tim Wake, who rather than be confrontational offered a resolution that offers an opportunity for clarity regarding the development and possibly some discussion around the project.

Finally, I hope that all the parties who are passionate about Lot 1 & 9 will tone down their inflammatory rhetoric and talk about the issues and project on its merits.

Stephen L. Milstein


Homegrown resources overlooked

Many thanks for your continued in depth editorials relating to the lack of information provided from Whistler 2010 to our community. Is it any wonder that they only have 2,000 vollys from the Sea to Sky corridor... DUH, most of us will be working! They could have a few thousand locally grown bodies but won't offer volunteer positions to Grade 11 and 12 students who will be available from two weeks (Pemberton and Squamish students) to four weeks (Whistler students) and have a bed to sleep in already.

As for myself, our office will probably close at Function Junction for two weeks as getting to and from work might be a real hassle (of course 2010 has not provided the transportation logistics yet for any business in the valley).

Will I use my time off to be an Olympic volunteer? Probably not as I need to work to pay the bills, so I'd rather offer my extensive local knowledge and 35+ years of tourism sector experience to a desperate Whistler business owner who is short of trained employees, to help get them through the 2010 Olympic mayhem.

I also suggest that our high school students offer their services to local employers and get paid for the duration of their time off school — after skiing/boarding on those almost empty mountain slopes all day!

We won’t ask our long-term tenants to leave so we can cash in on the quest for beds within walking distance of the village. As a 34-year resident of this community I have seen many of "the white circus" events roll into town. The Olympics will just be one more, though on a larger scale, and it will challenge the sanity of all of us to a higher degree, but we will survive .

Kathy Macalister


Prices up, service not

I anticipate this comment being one of many, but I had to have my say on how shocked I was by the change of the bus fares starting in June.

As a dependent on the bus I am enraged at this 33 per cent raise when the service can be best, and most politely, described as poor. Buses are either late, or even more frustrating, early — and occasionally they don't even bother to turn up at all.

I live in Creekside and at key times the buses are packed, people battling to get on and then standing like cattle bracing themselves against skis, snowboards, shopping bags and luggage. No outside racks on these buses!

I have also had the occasional ride where it has felt like a roller coaster, without the safety checks. Sometimes the speed the buses go and how heavily they then have to break is ridiculous. I have even seen people only half out the doors before the bus pulls off.

The drivers, on the whole, just don't want to know and are usually pretty rude about it. There are some great exceptions to this but they only make the others stand out even more. In a resort that revolves around amazing customer service the buses are a major let down. I'm often asked questions by flustered tourists who don't know which bus to catch. They are left to ask strangers after being shunned rudely by the drivers.

Comments like, “For residents it's never been cheaper to ride the bus” are mind-boggling. Surely it was cheaper before you put the price up?

And in reference to making the fares similar to other places I think you have to keep it relative to the place. The average wage in Whistler is pretty low so comparing it to Vancouver might not reflect correctly.

I think I might also be right in saying that mountain workers are now facing a 75 per cent increase in their fare, a little unreasonable don't you think?

I am ashamed and infuriated that with all these problems that they dare suggest a raise in the fares. Why should we start paying more for a sub-standard service? Before they hike up the prices shouldn't they address some of the issues they have?

Dee Raffo


Make a difference

Do you have the guts? “O Canada” do you have the guts to stand up for female ski jumpers — to raise our collective voices in unison, as a symbiotic nation to tell female athletes that we support and honour them?

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms clearly states that our federal, provincial and municipal governments must advocate for gender equality and against discrimination. Advocate and stand on guard for female ski jumpers — these athletes possess determination to represent Canada and in turn inspire us to be proud Canadians of “our home and native land!”

As individuals we are idealists but collectively Canadians tend to be cynical and sometimes are considered meek — we have been known to apologize with a submissive stereotypical sorry. Not anymore. We Canadians have the courage and conviction to influence change. I have a vision of a female on the podium at the 2010 Olympics for ski jumping. I see her emotional face, medal around her neck, close to her heart. I also see the Canadian flag unfurling while we sing “True patriot love in all our daughters command”.

As reported on the CTV News website: “The women's ski jumping team says the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to exclude women from the sport in the 2010 Winter Games is discriminatory, while the IOC says its decision was based on technical merit.”

As Canadians we need to support, in unison, these females who jump for us! As the “The true north strong and free” let’s find our collective voice and support female ski jumpers! In February, 2008, female ski jumpers rallied and delivered their request to be allowed to compete in the 2010 Olympics. Deedee Corradini, President of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, told CTV News that, “This is an issue that will not go away. The Canadian Ski Jumpers, women's ski jumpers, did beautifully in their placement (in the Continental Cup Competition in Germany) last week."

She went on to say: "Not to allow these talented women jumpers from all over the world... in the Olympic Games in 2010 would be terrible for Canada. It will be a black eye for the Olympics." She said: “that under a mandate for gender equality the IOC has penciled in newer women's sports but has "grandfathered" women's ski jumping, which has been around since the 1920s. Men's ski jumping has been in the Olympics for 84 years and women have been ski jumping since 1924 and they started jumping in skirts.”

Canadian government, in fact all governments of participating countries, fund the Olympics and therefore fund the IOC. The IOC argument that a sport must hold at least two world championships for inclusion into Olympic Games doesn’t stand up to scrutiny because the women’s marathon was added to the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles after holding only one world championship. The Salt Lake City 2002 Games successfully lobbied the IOC to include the two-women bobsleigh and women’s skeleton events.

Ensure female athletes compete in ski jumping at the 2010 Olympics. Forward this request to every politician in Victoria, Ottawa, and your local municipalities, with a copy to the IOC and the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee. Demonstrate your influence to change this archaic IOC ruling. Voices in unison make a difference. Canadians can make a difference!

Jeannine Bradshaw


A view from Downunder

Mr. Mitchell, your yarn about the Canadian halfpipe ski team winning everything in sight was sensational, but it also left me fuming.

A week after the world was told the Canadian swim team would not allow their swimmers to wear the new LZR Speedo swimsuits, even though all of Europe and Australia and the U.S. were already training and breaking world records in them, Whistler now knows about yet another Canadian Olympic team brimming with talent, but with seemingly no professional support at any level.

Call off the opening and closing ceremonies, forget about the medals — I say — and, yes, those athletes, yes that’s you with the toque and the swollen ankles: Don’t worry about the early mornings… Canada would rather attend a flower parade than compete at the Olympics!

Yes, I’m an Australian so, yes, we have a very different attitude towards sport and winning and I thought, when it came to sport (lets not generalize people!) Canada was full of pansies who couldn’t hit a bull in the arse with a bail of hay… and then I went to a hockey game. The hits were big, the players were professional athletes and everyone, especially the coaches, and even the commentator, Don Cherry, really wanted someone to win.

So here’s my question: Why are Canadians so magnificent, brutal and professional on and off the ice, but when it comes to other sports it’s just about competing?

And no, you don’t have to be a boofheaded ice monkey to want to win. There have been thousands of fantastic victories during Olympic competition that have happened in the right spirit and have done nothing but inspire many generations to do the best with what they have (think Lori-Ann Muenzer and shame on you if you don’t know who she is).

My hope for now is that a coach like Trennon Paynter will get local, provincial and federal government support in his attempt to get some sense out of the organizers to showcase the sport. Then I hope he gets some money for these hard-working athletes, so when ski halfpipe is admitted to the Olympic program and the rest of the world starts going about winning professionally the Canadian team will have the support (and this always starts with money) to stay on top.

For further reference go and find Dan Raymond, the snowboarder who trained, mostly, alone and gave up his place on the house list in Whistler to fund his Olympic dream in 2006 (which he just missed). This is the kind of guy who should be on some over-all athlete steering committee for the Games, otherwise B.C. and Whistler is going to walk about from its biggest party with just empty champagne glasses, instead of some stories of great victories and a legacy of achievement that will last long after the politicians leave.

Adam Daff

Killcare, NSW, Australia

Palden Gyatso's Tibet

There has been a lot of media attention lately about the ongoing situation in Chinese-occupied Tibet, and Tibet's international supporters using the upcoming Summer Olympics to raise awareness.

If you are interested in what has happened in Tibet, you might want to look into the life of a man called Palden Gyatso. His story deserves to be heard by the world.

Palden Gyatso was an ordained Buddhist monk at the Drepung Monastery in Tibet until he was jailed in 1959 (10 years after China invaded Tibet), along with thousands of others. Since his release in 1992, he has devoted his life to exposing the atrocities of the Chinese occupiers. You can Google him, or better yet, read his autobiographical account of 33 years as a prisoner. This incredible book is called Fire Under the Snow: Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner. There is a copy at our library.

Shannon Smith


Not an option

I am watching with interest the discussion about Whistler's daycare situation. As a mother of a 2+ year old, quality viable affordable options for daycare in the future are becoming more relevant.

I have just looked into the new daycare option, the Mark Warner Childcare Centre, or Whistler Daycare (the actual name is not clear). Daycare price was the first thing I looked at, and I'll look no further. For tourists and locals, a nanny from one of the agencies in town could be employed for close to the same fee. Normally, group childcare is the cheaper option. Food for thought.

Ruth Chapman


An icon overlooked

Reading the April 10 edition of Pique the following stories caught my attention: Michel Beaudry’s Eric Beardmore and the Cheakamus Inn, and Erica Osburn-McNolty’s More than Buildings. Both stories are well written and accurately researched as far as they go. But again, our modern historians have overlooked one of the original pre-1970 structures in our valley built for skiers to use: The UBC Lodge in Nordic Estates.

It is the second largest building constructed in the 1965-1969 era. How it was built — by students on weekends-only in the autumn of 1965, with dorms added in the autumn of 1967 — is an unbelievable story in its own.

And it still stands, in excellent shape, as one of Whistler’s “iconic” structures — hidden from view but well used throughout the year.

Unlike Cheakamus Inn and the other structures built in 1965, the UBC (VOC) cabin site did not have road access. All materials, except the gravel and cement for the foundation post pads, were carried on students’ backs about 800 metres to the site from a logging road which is now the corner of Whistler Road and Cavendish Way.

Yes, historical kudos on the UBC Lodge are long overdue. It was a gargantuan project. The students deserve countless accolades, which so far have never even registered a murmur in any piece of prose concerning Whistler’s history.

Karl Ricker