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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Election candidates need to address shortage of family doctors in Whistler

Photo by Sabrina Bracher/Getty Images

(Editor’s Note: This letter was addressed to B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix and shared with Pique.)

Firstly, thank you and your team for exemplary leadership during this COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the relapse, B.C. continues to head in the right direction with leadership decisions grounded by science.  

But I write to you today as a concerned citizen living in Whistler regarding healthcare access for the growing number of young families with children and the growing population of seniors. Coming into the next provincial election, a group of concerned Whistler citizens would appreciate your guidance on:

• Your government’s opinion on the state of declining accessibility to basic healthcare in Whistler. This is an issue critical to families and seniors in the Sea to Sky corridor. There is a serious shortage of family doctors for this 11,000-plus strong community;

• This world-class resort faces a glaring decline in the number of GP / family physicians;

• COVID-19 not only witnessed the closure of yet another private clinic (Coast Medical Clinic), but even more young families arrived into the corridor while doctors were headed out of town as they could not manage the high overhead costs of a public practice. Having heard from several departing doctors, the crux of the matter is the economics from rents to staffing issues don’t make financial sense. 

Whistler is now down to two to three public practices, none of which are accepting new patients. 

Yes, the Whistler Health Care Centre is an amazing facility for emergencies, but there is a void for basic family health. Whistler residents understand that nurse practitioners can carry some of the burden, but the loss of qualified family physicians due to the financial burden is glaring. Perhaps the solution is to establish a Provincial Community Health facility with a focus on families and seniors in the corridor. 

Randall Jang // Whistler

Consider the cost of campaign promises

I am a model. No, not that type. I do financial modelling for work. I take raw data and create scenarios to calculate the impact of future events or decisions.

For example, when the price of oil dropped to MINUS $47, I didn’t panic because my models showed it would turn around. It did. Looking at the general global economy as a whole, we don’t get back to “normal” for at least another 12 to 15 months. Some analysts predict 2023. I’m gonna stick with Q4 2021.  

What troubles me about this ill-timed provincial election, besides having a candidate for the NDP who lives in the posh Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver, is the unending slew of campaign promises made by each party. I know it’s expected that political campaigning 101 is to promise the world, get elected and then not deliver, instead blaming the previous government.

However, what I find particularly offensive is that not one party has explained how we are going to pay for all of these massive projects especially as revenues have dropped.  

So where do these magical funds come from?   

Political parties need to be realistic in their promises and back their spending with predicted revenues. We don’t need deficit spending or to go into debt, and must look to austerity.

Where do we start? Perhaps all the MLAs should take a pay cut as many in B.C. have seen their incomes drop this year. Oh, whom am I kidding?  We could pull a Bill Bennett circa 1983 when the government of the day fired 25 per cent of the public servants with workers and unions in the public sector losing the right to negotiate almost anything. Yea. That will not happen either. However, we certainly can put off capital projects for a couple of years, maintain spending on human capital and pay down our debt.

Who’s gonna have the guts to step up and tell it the way it is?  Bueller …? Bueller …?

Oh. I was also a fashion model too once.

Patrick Smyth // Whistler

Masks should be mandatory at
BC Liquor Stores

[I] was at Marketplace on Oct. 10 and observed about 25 per cent of customers (and some staff) not wearing face coverings [at the BC Liquor Store].

I went to the service desk to be told they had no authority to impose the wearing of masks. Quite interesting to also notice the total absence of the need for face coverings. The only positive action was on social distancing and number of patrons in the store.

When discussing with staff, they explained their own concerns about this lack of basic safety for themselves.

We are Whistler residents in our 70s with major concerns [about] COVID-19.

I’m convinced that our government stores would not lose sales (being a monopoly) if they implanted a mandatory mask policy.

Jacques Robert // Whistler

Award congratulations

Last week, the Lil’wat Business Group won the BC Achievement Indigenous Business Award for 2020. As directors of the Lil’wat companies, we are very proud of the work our boards, CEO and staff have done. Averaging $15 million in revenues per year and 60 full-time employees, the Lil’wat Business Group is a model for Indigenous economic development.  

The keys to success have been many: leveraging legal rights to acquire economic assets, creating a long-term vision for investment priorities, slow and steady development of assets, carefully assessing business and investment partners, and managing the delicate balance between politics and business management decisions. 

Finally, the competence of the senior management team can’t be underestimated. Led by CEO Kerry Mehaffey, the team at Lil’wat Business Group realizes how economic development for the long-term is a slow and steady process. The business we engage in is for the benefit of the community and the team evaluates risks in that context.  

While “slow and steady” may not sound exciting, the results are anything but boring: Lil’wat Business Group has contributed millions  [of dollars] to Lil’wat Nation social and cultural projects like language immersion, land purchases, a cultural centre, community transit, a youth centre, community gardens, fire protection, an annual rodeo and other recreation programs. Together, the direct and indirect benefits generated by Lil’wat Business Group are a critical part of rebuilding the Nation. 

Congratulations, Lil’wat!  

Maxine Bruce, Lois Joseph, Chris Irving, Vanessa Dan, Jessica Frank, Loretta Pascal, Samantha Wells, Saad Hasan, Sheldon Tetreault // Lil’wat Nation

Will new waste agreement increase
GHG emissions?

At the Oct. 6, 2020 council meeting, Whistler councillors voted in favour of a staff recommendation that has troubling GHG emission implications for the community. 

I asked a question via email of the council during its online meeting and feel I did not get a satisfactory answer from the mayor.

As someone who works in town and is interested in how our Whistler waste is managed, I have issues with some of the inconsistencies in the Administrative Report on Item 7.5 of that agenda concerning the awarding of the contract for Whistler waste to go to a new Belkorp landfill, Campbell Hill.

The report said that, “All three proponents operate landfill gas recovery collection systems.” This appears to be misleading because further on in the report it states, “Campbell Hill itself is in its first year of operation and does not have its own gas collection system yet.”

What made it even worse, is that the staff PowerPoint said, “All proponents operate a landfill gas collection system at their landfills.” That’s simply not true. To suggest since Belkorp operated a gas-collection system at its old closed landfill that it should be counted as relevant at the new landfill is ludicrous. 

This is important because not having a gas collection system in place increases the landfill’s GHG emissions. Belkorp said it is planning to construct a system, but who knows how long it will really take for it to do it. 

In the meantime, our waste will be contributing to GHG emissions more than it does now!

Kristin Nuttall // Pemberton


(Editor’s Note: Operators of new landfills in B.C. are not permitted by the province to install a gas collection system until the site hits a certain threshold of waste volume to warrant it. Municipal staff expect the Belkorp site’s collection system to get up and running next year.)

Let’s take composting seriously
in the village

With the release of the federal Liberals’ ban of single-use plastics coming into the limelight, isn’t it high time that we addressed the effects of this properly in our community? 

The majority of restaurants and shops in Whistler started phasing out plastic straws, bags, cutlery and take-away containers a long time ago. They have been replaced by PLA, or plant plastics as they are also known. Way to go, Whistler, what a great start! 

What’s not so great is that these products, once they have been taken from the restaurants or shops, then go directly into regular bins in the streets. The customers are eating at our lovely parks and new outdoor seating areas and then throwing the biodegradable packaging into a regular bin. 

This in turn is sent to landfills. Landfills are a dry, moisture-free environment. This packaging will not break down in this environment, thus making it nearly as bad as fossil-fuel plastics.

With COVID-19 already being a burden on the businesses around the country and in Whistler, it’s heartbreaking to see the hard work and changes they are making just getting thrown in the trash.

There have long been promises from the municipal government to put in organics’ bins around the village next to the regular and recycling bins, but nothing has ever come to fruition, albeit with the pilot project with few compost bins scattered here and there. 

The organics’ disposal ban and tariffs were first introduced in 2014; that is a six- year window for the changes to be made. All restaurants were made to comply, but the municipality has not held itself responsible for this. 

As we’ve geared towards using more disposable products than ever before due to COVID-19, this needs to be addressed promptly. Our world is in need and we need to take responsibility.

Rorey Riley-Gillespie // Whistler

Pay parking problems

I am writing [about] the parking situation in Whistler. 

I am aware that there are other and more serious concerns taking place during these difficult times. However, I would be more than pleased if you could take a few minutes to read this. 

I generally find that the parking in Whistler is very good with a lot of parking options all around the village.

However, due to all parking machines only accepting credit cards, it is very inconvenient if not impossible for me to park in Whistler. Considering I am only 18 years old and do not have my own credit card, it would be very appreciated if the parking machines would accept cash or at least Visa debit cards. 

I am convinced I am not the only person having trouble parking in Whistler due to not possessing a credit card. 

Today, for example, I had a dentist appointment. I was on my way trying to find free parking knowing that most machines only accept credit cards. 

After being unsuccessful in finding free parking, I tried pay parking. I got to the machine and tried to pay with my Visa debit card. I thought it worked after the screen went back to the home screen, until not too long after my dentist appointment, [after] finding a parking ticket on my windshield. 

Of course, I paid the parking violation knowing the payment must not have been accepted, which is also a little strange considering Visa debit gets accepted online.   

Finn Schroeder // Whistler 


(Editor’s note: According to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, free parking is currently available in Day Lots 4 and 5 until Dec. 14. After Dec. 15, the monthly pass is $30 and you can purchase that with cash at municipal hall. All municipal machines accept coins. If you have a smartphone, you can pay by Visa debit on Pay by Phone, and it says it is looking into adding the Visa and Interac debit for meters.) 

Do not stay silent

I am fortunate to be Canadian and to live in Squamish, and I am grateful to be alive.

Armenia is one of the oldest remaining civilized nations that has a continuous history back to the Stone Age. Armenia is on the edge of Eastern Europe bordering Turkey, Iran, and the former USSR republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Genocide was the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the by the Ottoman government between 1914 and 1923. 

Armenia now is under fire again from Turkey and the state of Azerbaijan in a direct, all-out, pre-planned war armed by drones and state-of-the-art weapons designed to kill as many people as possible. 

This intentional action is genocide.

Please request that NATO intervene to prevent another massacre.

Magnificent cathedrals are part of the heritage of Armenia dating back to 300 A.D. and predating this are petroglyphs and astronomical stone formations.

Before the Jewish Holocausts during the Second World War, in Adolf Hitler’s order to Wehrmacht commanders on Aug. 22, 1939, a week before the Nazi invasion of Poland, were the words: “ … send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children.

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” 

To be silent at this time is to be complicit in the crime itself.

Turkey killed more than 1 million Armenians during and after the First World War in an intentional act of genocide, and then incorporated the Armenian lands into Turkey, including Lake Van and the mountain of Ararat where Noah’s Ark was purported to have landed after a great flood. 

The Turkish advance was stopped by Soviet forces, and the Armenian-Turkish border is still held against Turkey with the assistance of Russian forces.

In the city my where my mother’s family were born, Turkish militia removed every single stone of the Cathedral, killed every person and smashed the buildings. Only broken stone blocks remain of Harput, a town of 200,000 people near Lake Van. 

Davin Peterson // Squamish