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Riverside: An open view I have some serious concerns about the council decision to stop the public process for Riverside Campground.

Riverside: An open view

I have some serious concerns about the council decision to stop the public process for Riverside Campground. Two weeks ago there was a statement by the mayor and supported by the rest of council not to allow Riverside to proceed to a public open house. Planning staff reports and advisory planning commission resolutions were clear and concise — the project was ready to begin the public process — however mayor and council rejected those recommendations.

The Riverside project has had a very special relationship with council and staff. In 1995 there was a proposal call for campgrounds. That proposal call was developed by staff and supported by council. There were seven projects that responded to the proposal call and in very short order Riverside was designated the most suitable to the needs of the community. The proposal call envisioned a campground, recreational vehicle sites and other related amenities that were in keeping with the high standards of the resort.

It took almost fours years for the project to move from the proposal call to rezoning. Even though staff and the majority of council were supportive, there were two council members at the time that had a different vision of the project. They both wanted to see a “minimalist” project that was similar to the forestry type of campgrounds that were already on the borders of the municipality. Staff, advisory planning commission, and the majority of council, however, supported a first class project with R.V. sites, cabins, employee housing and recreational amenities.

The project finally received fourth reading in March of 1999 and was open for business in December of the same year. Even though it took the municipality four years to process the application, Riverside was able to open the campground on a limited basis in the fall of the same year. It was always intended that the project would be phased. Phase one included the R.V. sites on the west side of Fitzsimmons Creek. By the fall of 2001 everything on the west side was complete, including the main building, restaurant, store, employee housing, family cabins and grass putting course. The overall facility, including the cabins, employee housing and main lodge, were not only built in compliance with the development permit, but the quality of the final product is exceptional, and has resulted in recognition and praise from the camping industry and Riverside’s guests alike . Riverside always intended to develop the remaining sites on the east side of Fitzsimmons Creek as part of phase 2, but a downturn in Whistler economic conditions slowed down that development plan.

Now Riverside is back at council with a plan to finish the project. However, there seems to be a reluctance to move forward. Most of the resistance seems to be coming from the same two councillors who had a different vision of the project over 10 years ago. Recommendations from staff have been rejected, requests to meet with council face to face have been ignored and the process slowed down once again.

This council has made many statements in the past about open and transparent review of projects. Riverside is asking for an opportunity to present the last phase of the project to the public. I believe that council has an obligation to allow this project to proceed to open house. This is not in any way a guarantee of approval — simply one more step in the long and arduous approval process. Before the second phase is approved there must be a public open house, first and second readings of a bylaw, a public hearing and finally third and fourth readings of the bylaw.

For council to stop this project, at this time, is inappropriate. Council, I urge you to allow Riverside to move forward in accordance with the staff recommendations to schedule an open house. Take the time to meet with the Riverside proponents, listen to the staff comments and hear from the public, then you are free to vote in accordance with your own personal view. After you have all of the information, you will be ready to make an informed decision about the future of camping in Whistler.

Doug O’Mara

Whistler

A little respect for builders

I wish the mayor would refrain from referring to large, estate homes as monster houses. He repeated this derogatory term during a rezoning application brought forward by the developer, Vision Pacific. Vision Pacific, along with many other Whistler designers and builders have built some of the most beautiful and well constructed homes in North America, receiving many prestigious awards for their efforts.

Local construction businesses have made a very substantial contribution to the financial viability of this town. Construction workers and tradesmen are the highest paid employees in the Sea to Sky corridor. Their skill level has increased in a direct relationship with the value of the buildings that they build. The economic spin offs are numerous; highly paid workers can afford to live here and spend their hard earned money at local businesses, the owners of these large homes pay very high property taxes, employ numerous people to maintain their properties, and also support local shops, restaurants, etc.

Many mountain resorts are discovering that second-home owners are an important component to supplement revenues provided by destination tourists. Ken Melamed said, during the last municipal election campaign, that as mayor he would represent the interests of the whole community and not just act as the standard bearer for AWARE. Sustainability is also about the long-term health of the economy.

Consumers are demanding “greener” buildings and the local construction industry is responding. Let’s give some respect to Whistler builders. Not only have they made a large financial contribution to the community, but they have also raised the standard for design and quality construction in mountain resorts.

John Konig

Whistler

Guidelines for trails available

Re: Public trails on public dykes adjacent to farming areas

Recreational trails co-exist successfully throughout farming regions in B.C.   The Ministry of Agriculture’s “Guide to Developing Trails in Farm and Ranch Areas” provides practical guidelines to help increase compatibility and reduce potential conflicts between trail users and farm operations and was developed as part of the Ministry’s “Strengthening Farming” Program.

Over a year ago, PVTA hosted a presentation with one of the authors. Unfortunately, there is resistance on the part of some local farmers to credit the validity of the ministry’s publication.

Concerns about garbage and dog feces are exaggerated. We have had a public trail alongside our farm which supports some cattle grazing for about 10 years without significant problems and in fact, I challenge anyone to find problem garbage on the local (non motorized) PVTA trails.

The 8 km Valley Loop Trail in question is within easy walking distance of town and provides a beautiful and safe off road route (rare in this valley)   mostly along the public dyke with access points to the river and an alternative unimproved route along the riparian zone. It is enjoyed by young and old.

The PVTA, with the support of the SLRD has offered to construct dog proof fencing as has already been done for other farmers adjacent to a PVTA trail. Currently, trail users have to negotiate several gates on the dyke and are asked to share the dyke with cattle while waiting for grazing permits to be considered by the Ministry of Forests for the limited grazing potential on the dyke and riparian land. Further development of the Valley Loop trail cannot continue with present uncertainties in place.

Hugh Naylor

Pemberton

Dialogue would be a change

Re: The story published in the July 19th issue of the Pique, titled, More dialogue, understanding called for on use of dykes.

Some Pemberton farmers would like more dialogue on the public use of publicly owned dykes. That would be a nice change from obstructionism. These same folk have installed fences on public property and seek to justify their actions with prophesies of the dire effects of people passing by their farms.

How much garbage does a mother pushing a stroller, a bicycle rider or a pedestrian out for a morning walk create? Experience tells me the amount is not much.

Unleashed dogs chasing cows? I think most dogs want nothing to do with cattle. However, the offer to help with fencing is already on the table. Motor bikes running circles in a hayfield? I believe the field was accessed from Highway 99, thus had nothing to do with dykes.

The public dykes are already in place and provide a surface suitable for non motorized uses. They require no further encroachment on either farmland or sensitive riparian areas. They are an obvious choice for recreational use in a growing community.

Pemberton is not unique in its experience with public dykes, many jurisdictions have found ways to accommodate recreation use.

I suggest that farmers should take down their spite fences, drop the red herrings into the doggie-do bag and talk of how to do the job right.

George Brooks

Mount Currie

Why Juniper died

Last week’s destruction of 3.5-year-old Juniper and her six-month cub was emotional for obvious reasons. It’s critical to understand why this young bear family died and how this needs to be prevented so Whistler’s younger generation of black bears are not continually destroyed by their progressive conditioning to human foods.

First, I am an independent bear researcher who has been studying bear behavior and abundance in Whistler for the last 14 years. I observed Juniper weekly from May 2004 until her death in July 2007. Second, Juniper was named by my daughter (not by S. Dolson as stated in the Whistler Question) in the summer of 2004 as part of a system to identify kinship relation of resident bear families. A name is just a name but, I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

Juniper died for four reasons: 1) Human food is still readily available (non-bear proof) to bears in Whistler, 2) Juniper was first shown human food sources by her mother Jeanie (resident to north side of Whistler Mountain) during a natural berry shortage in 2004, 3) Juniper again found human foods in 2005 as an independent yearling and then again in 2006 as the youngest maturing female (mated with two males), and 4) Being the youngest mother ever in the ski area, Juniper was forced from the resident population hierarchy (of nine females from the north side of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains) into valley habitat (lower ski slopes, golf courses, and residential greenbelt) closer to people where she knew (relying on past experiences of human food reward) to search for human foods to support her cub.

Mother bears do not teach their cubs conflict behavior per se. It is not in the mother’s nature to introduce intentional risk to the cub. Rather, mother bears teach their cubs to search for reliable and potential natural food sources and unfortunately, if need be, unnatural food sources. Teaching the cub to feed at human food sources can lead to a greater chance of conflict outcomes (as Jeanie taught Juniper and Juniper taught her cub). The mother bear’s first commitment is to ensure that her cub(s) gains enough weight for growth, development, and hibernation. As Whistler moves through dynamic change during pre-Olympic years, mother bears are going to be faced with struggles raising offspring in crowded habitats (due to disturbance through short and long-term habitat loss and increased competition among bears).

This past spring bears fed on human food from overflowing sidewalk containers, bus shelters, industrial bins, recycling bins, golf course bins, ski area base bins, off house decks, within buildings, at the rear of restaurants, from the back of trucks, and from the temporary transfer station. If young bears continue to feed on human food, it makes it very difficult to achieve healthy bear conservation initiatives in Whistler.

Michael Allen

Black Bear Researcher

Paradise Valley, B.C.

A death sentence

Shame on us.

Whistler is one of the richest and open minded communities in North America, yet, we still have a portion of our bear management policy that is barbaric and non sustainable.

Is anyone actually proud of the fact that we are murdering bears and their babies? Where is the sense and sustainability in a policy that chooses to eradicate problems with an act of violence? Why are we handing them a death sentence for their instinctual behavior to forage for nourishment?

Don't these beautiful creatures deserve a better fate?

This type of thinking can only hold us back from manifesting a balanced vision for the future. This is a community that celebrates the gift of life but also one that mourns the loss of its dead; Killing our bears is like the killing a member our family.

As a community, we all are affected with thoughts of sadness and anger every time a bear dies in the name of our trespasses.

Why can't we build a wilderness bear sanctuary? A facility comprising of a large fenced outdoor compound where problem bears could be relocated to live out their days in a natural setting. I imagine this place would attract global visitors and locals who would want to learn more about these amazing creatures.

Maybe I'm just a dreamer, but I think it would be a wonderful chance for our community to change a wrong and make it into a wonderful expression of our community vision.

For those who have an interest in these matters, we have started a group on facebook to further discuss bear management policy issues. Please search for the group "@whistler they murder bears". Our hope is to build a channel   of communication and support for finding a positive solution to this sad problem.

dj tone

Whistler

We owe it to the bears

We humans have taken bears’ natural habitat to use for profit and enjoyment. The very least we can do for them is to establish effective systems for the collection and disposal of the garbage which is leading to their deaths.

Since the most advanced, amazing technology is used to provide the Whistler experience to the world, why cannot garbage be controlled? Residents and visitors, please demand a system all can use.

The seven-month-old cub who was shot recently, and many others, could have been rehabilitated in a place similar to the Leona Green Hillspring Wildlife Rehab. Facility in Dawson Creek, where grizzly and black bear orphans have been kept, not habituated to humans, and released successfully (Vancouver Sun, Aug. 9/06).

For many years bear researcher and writer Michael Allen has been educating school children about bears, and he urges people to eliminate the things which attract them, such as bird feeding stations and, of course, garbage. Bears love bird seeds and kitchen waste. But these things lead ultimately to their death.

Please demand an effective garbage system now, and trade feeding the birds (who don’t need it) for protecting both the bears and yourselves.

Gloria Masse

Gambier Island

Blanket policy a cover up

The killing of the bear cub last week is morally and socially repugnant. Though this community has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the destruction of bears, the slaughter continues under the blanket policy of public safety. This cub was clearly not a threat to the public and was killed because of man's eroding compassion for his neighbours sharing this planet.

Steve Earl

Whistler

Pemberton sliding into 2010

Pembertonians who had the fortune of attending the Sliding Centre presentation at Signal Hill Elementary School last Thursday night were treated to an informative, educational and entertaining evening.

An enthusiastic crowd met with passionate Olympic athletes, coaches, technical officials, VANOC representatives of the Whistler Sliding Centre and community leaders to learn more about sliding sports and how to get involved. During this motivating and most inclusive presentation it became clear that Pemberton residents are engaged and will be a huge part of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games now, during 2010 and beyond.

Becoming a part of the Sliding Sports Legacy is a fantastic opportunity for the Pemberton community young and old. It also means growth and success for the Sliding Sport itself, especially with the new and fast growing membership of the Pemberton “Track Club”.

After the meeting attendees signed up for volunteer positions of all kinds, including memberships, Sliding Sport boot camps, and training to become a sport official for the Games.

Presenters made themselves available to answer questions, sharing more about their experience and stories. Attendees had a chance to buy Sliding Sport shirts, and enjoy the complimentary tasty food and soft drinks, which rounded up this successful meeting. Pemberton is ready to slide into 2010.

Anyone who could not attend the meeting and would like to receive more information about the sliding sports and how they can be involve may contact Peter Vandenberg at peterv@mycoast.net To join The Track Club at the Whistler Sliding Centre, simply fill out the membership form at www.bcsliding.com

France Lamontagne

Spirit of B.C. Community Committee

Pemberton Valley

The magic reaches Whistler

Last Friday night we hosted a midnight party for the release of the last (sadly) Harry Potter book. The lineup began around 7:30 p.m. with our first muggle, named Max Edwards. He was quickly followed by the Sewells from Vancouver, then the Ellis family from Squamish and on and on until the lineup flowed out the end of our building, down the walkway and almost to Tapley’s Pub.

We counted down the seconds to midnight and once the bell tolled the doors were opened, and at long last those die-hard fans were rewarded with their very own copy to take to their special quiet place, so they could devour the pages.

We welcomed approximately 200 people that night, young and old, local and tourist, of which nearly 100 stayed for cake and to hear the charismatic voice of Alix Nicoll read the pages of the first chapter.

Many, I’m sure, then went home to read through the night. Such is the magic that is Harry Potter, which has a following never seen before in the history of fiction publishing.

I would like to express my thanks to the following people for their help in making our night enjoyable and successful. The Whistler RCMP for their presence, since the lineup went outdoors and there were children, it was comforting to have them periodically checking up on us. Jen and Helen from Cracked Pepper Catering for their delicious cake. Gone Eatery and Moguls for coffee, hot chocolate and supplies. Alix Nicoll, who postponed a planned trip, so she could read the first chapter. If you have heard Alix read before, you will know what a gift we were given by her presence. My staff, who are the strength of this store, for their skill, commitment and selflessness. And lastly, and most importantly, our customers who continue to amaze me with their loyalty, despite cheaper options available. Their faith in us and what we do here humbles me completely.

Dan Ellis

Armchair Books

Ride with courage

On Sept. 21-23 2007 the Tour of Courage Event will take place in Vancouver. The money raised from this event will help the B.C. Cancer Foundation fund blood cancer research. Saturday, the 22nd of September, the ride will be 100km and among the riders will be Lance Armstrong. Sunday includes rides 30km, 60km, or 90km. More information can be found at www.tourofcourage.ca.

If you are interested in joining Team Whistler, or supporting the team, please contact us through teamwhistler@hotmail.com.

Cancer can be beaten.

Leslie Weir

Whistler




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