Angry and praying for change
For a month now I’ve been waiting to calm down and write this letter in a manner that is not so angry.
I now realize that my anger is justified and if ever there is a good reason to use anger constructively, this is it.
Whistler’s cheap lip service to and use of “Environmental and Green” as a marketing ploy, sickens me.
We are so wonderfully green here in Whistler, that our Olympic legacy is Hydrogen buses. Hydrogen, which is currently (meaning at least the next couple of decades) produced by cracking hydro-carbons like oil or coal. This form of production gives off almost the same amount of green house gas emissions, C02s, as using your current gas guzzling vehicle. It’s really cool though, because you don’t breathe any fumes coming from the car in front of you, instead the deadly toxins are produced in some rural location, but it is still going into this one, small planet’s atmosphere.
Green Sea to Sky Highway indeed. On which we truck our garbage to the USA. Council was approached by companies with equipment that would recycle 90 per cent of all our waste and recycle them to deliver saleable products at the end of the line. They chose trucking.
Yogi and Booboo are definitely not safe here, in this environmentally aware community.
I can not even begin to believe what is happening with the execution squad, bear killings. Mother bears and cubs shot because some unaware jerk has left their garbage out… it’s got to stop. When has anyone ever been killed by an urban bear? I don’t think there is such a thing.
Councillor Z asked me recently, “so what ARE you doing?” implying my lack of commitment to AWARE, who as a “watch dog” has been asleep in the dog house for far too long.
Well Eckhard, I’m praying. Seems the only reasonable thing left to do — and practicing yoga to stay flexible. If Whistler is what Green looks like, I want to be able to stick my head between my knees and kiss my ass good-bye… ’cause Whoopy, we all gonna die!
I urge everyone to envision electric cars with solar powered bodies; acreages growing food, not mansions; homes being heated geothermally; solar and wind power generating electricity; products that are built to last; people wearing and loving grey or whites that don’t need bleaching! Let’s move into the future and let go of the ancient ways of the 20th century.
Envisioning a new Whistler, a new world.
Another sustainability perspective
I have been reading Pique Newsmagazine for going on nine years and it seems as though with every edition comes the talk of sustainability. Recently, I travelled to the Interior of B.C. to see what some of the other ski towns were all about. It was in these travels that I noticed a number of things that to most would be ignored but for myself seemed to standout.
First, in every coffee shop I entered the question of "for here or to go?" was asked. Not a big deal right? Then I started thinking about Whistler and as a serious coffee drinker I realized that this question has never been asked of me or anyone before or after in line. Of course I generally carry my own travel mug and on the days I dont I do request a "for here mug" (which Starbucks seems to only have one of in their whole store). Just imagine the waste that would be saved by this simple question. I mean, think of the amount of coffees sold in a day in Whistler.
The next thing I noticed or actually read was a sign stating "We Love The Snow" and underneath it states "Patio seating available, BYOS". Well, not knowing what this meant I inquired, and the lovely lady told me that there are no heaters so you must Bring Your Own Sweater. Which left me thinking about the gross misuse of patio heaters in the town of Whistler. There have been days where I have been wandering through the town and noticed a warm breeze on a cool day only to find that it originates from a patio with no one on it. I mean come on, you are in a mountain town, you should get the whole experience. If you want the tropics go to them. You know, I thought we loved snow as well!
The list goes on for Whistler as it does for many other towns, from plastic bags to too many cars on the road. The difference is this is Whistler, an international resort with a lot of exposure around the world. We have been a leader in so many areas, why not these simple — and might I add easily attainable — areas? OK, so the guest might have to suffer a small inconvenience, but my feelings are that they will go away saying this is a town that cares more about their environment than they do about these little luxuries, and in the end is it not our environment that keeps us here and brings the tourist (and their money) here?
This practice of Insane-ablity must stop in order for the idea of sustainability to grow.
Engaging our Community
I am writing to comment on getting the community involved in the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As a volunteer host at the 2010 Information Centre in Whistler I was recently part of a venue orientation tour. Our first stop was at the athletes’ village — wow! What a facility this will be and what a legacy for our future. The housing will be in one of the most spectacular areas of our community (I encouraged my kids to put their names on the housing list!) with views and open space to spare. The training facility and housing for athletes for after the Games will enable teams to come and train here in an affordable way. This will also be a facility that will enable some of our local sports groups to at last have a home base of their own.
On to the Nordic Centre in the Callaghan Valley — 10K into the forest and you are surrounded by nature and views to live for — the set up has been so well thought out — the ski jump is nestled into the hillside with amazing viewing opportunities and just close by is the biathlon shooting range and penalty circle (if you miss the target you have to complete a penalty circuit!). The track is eminently viewable from a variety of sight areas. The cross-country track is again close by and offers many varied viewing areas. There is a stunning day lodge under construction as well — imagine spending a day in the Callaghan during Games time, taking in one of each of these sport events! What a spectacular day.
After a quick stop for lunch and a tour of the Function Junction VANOC office we were off to the skiing venue at Creekside. Although this has been in existence as a World Cup downhill site for many years the improvements will take this to another level and the women’s course running from Wild Card to the finish at the Timing Flats will be one of the toughest on the circuit. The bottom of the course has been a very special area as it is there that a species of tailed frog makes its home. In conjunction with environmental groups changes have been made in the course to ensure that these little creatures will be fully protected. With all the races finishing in one area this will be a prime sight and what an awesome legacy for our aspiring young ski racers.
We left the tailed frogs and moved on to our final destination, the Sliding Centre. I know that I for one was very pleased to be seeing this site as so many questions have been asked in relation to the building and after use of this venue. Let me tell you this is awesome — just listening to an explanation of the building process gave me some insight into the complexity of this facility — the precision that it takes to mould the corners is unlike any building I have seen and the top of this course will make this one of the most exciting on the World Cup circuit — also with this bringing the number of sliding centres in North America to four we will start to see some World Cup races come our way, to say nothing of the training opportunities for our athletes.
Being a volunteer at the 2010 Information Centre is a very satisfying and tangible way of being involved — talking to our many visitors and conveying our enthusiasm for the Games and answering the many and varied questions that come our way — I can highly recommend this as a way to become engaged in the upcoming Games.
I had just finished putting the final touches to this letter when I read the excellent report by Alison Taylor and can only echo her views. If our enthusiasm can awaken a dormant interest in the upcoming Games then I feel that engagement is a natural progression.
Our Whistler venues take the saying “If you build it they will come” to a new level. Whistler likes to think that the world knows who we are — well it’s a very big world and we still have a lot of people to reach — 2010 will be that tool, so look out Whistler!
Drop by the 2010 Information Centre and let me and my fellow volunteers engage you in your 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Lights not the answer
I'm writing in response to T. Klein's letter "Tragic death preventable" from last week's Pique.
Whilst I whole heartedly sympathize with the family and friends of the deceased, the idea that lighting on the 99 would prevent accidents just doesn't wash: the accident site is just feet away from a lit section of the Valley Trail. Whilst I know that most of the trail is not lit I would certainly advocate the use of flashlights over light polluting street lights. One of the many things that I love about Whistler is the darkness. That and the extensive Valley Trail.
As for the (somewhat expensive) library, I'm sure that it will prove to be one more awesome amenity that will be used extensively not only by tourists and locals, but also by the many transient, hard working staff who make Whistler what it is.
Walking safely In the space of five minutes, driving at 60 km/h along Highway 99, I saw seven pedestrians walking on the wrong side of the road (i.e. with their back to the oncoming traffic.). To those who walk Highway 99 may I suggest that you take responsibility for your life and learn the rules of the road:
1. Walk facing the traffic, then you can see the cars coming toward you.
2. Wear white clothing or reflective tape, then the drivers can see you.
3. Carry a flashlight, it is cheaper than installing street lights.
Too much GAS
GAS (Garibaldi at Squamish) is bad for you because:
1. It would provide easy access to Garibaldi Park, thereby degrading what is currently a marketable, world-renowned wilderness experience.
2. Further, development aspirations would lead to removal of chunks of the park, further degrading wilderness and habitat in Garibaldi Park and adjacent areas.
3. Easy access to Garibaldi Park would degrade habitat for alpine and sub-alpine species, such as mountain goats.
4. Very high cost of infrastructure development and maintenance. There is no water on the proposed town site; water would have to be pumped 2,000 vertical feet at great cost. Road access, akin to the road to Cypress, is through significantly hazardous terrain.
5. Whistler went bankrupt in the ’80s; the province bailed them out; such a line-of-credit doesn’t exist for Squamish taxpayers.
6. The ski/board business is a mature not a growth industry. Cutthroat competition means that Whistler, with all its resources, is competitively challenged in the current market. GAS, the new kid on the block, with higher infrastructure costs; poorer, more coastal snow conditions; more congestion, i.e. lift capacity per skiable hectare, would be in a much poorer competitive position than Whistler.
7. Urban sprawl and climate change are real problems (despite provincial and local government foot dragging). This project is quintessential urban sprawl exacerbating climate change. (Ironically, heavy rubber tire traffic-dependent industry, such as the ski industry, will result in diminishing winter recreation opportunities as the climate dramatically changes because of global warming.)
8. Furthermore, the District of Squamish (DOS) has been politically and administratively challenged by the very small scale Skye development. DOS has demonstrated poor performance in handling the Nexan site development. The District of Squamish is clearly not equipped to handle a project of the magnitude of GAS.
For all these reasons, I urge the province to turn down the Garibaldi at Squamish proposal.
Something in the air
Does anybody else appreciate the irony, that when a visitor comes to our fair town, as they roll past the Welcome to Whistler sign and the Olympic billboard, the next thing they notice is a bad smell in the air?
Canada’s role in Afghanistan
I can understand how a minority of Canadians do not agree with what their country is doing in Afghanistan, such as improving the Afghanis’ way of life in all aspects including, and I believe most importantly, their human rights, protecting ourselves and our Allies from attack, and doing our duty as part of NATO.
I can understand this because a very large number of these people that do not agree have absolutely no idea what a different world these developing countries are like. As a member of the 3rd PPCLI, representing Canada in the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) at the border of Croatia and Serbia in 1994 I have seen what it's like and I would not wish that type of life on any civilian.
Being there as part of the UN was probably the hardest part, the rules of engagement forbid any soldiers from acting upon what we all knew was happening at one time or another, even when some of my friends were killed or maimed by anti-personnel mines, shot at on almost every night patrol, or other atrocities that are not for a community paper. I applaud Canada, the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands for taking the Afghanistan conflict head on and helping all of the Afghani families with protection and technology.
As a nation, Canadians have always been at the forefront of human rights. Thousands upon thousands of Canadian men and women have given their lives for this right. We have proven our beliefs in personal freedom by unprecedented numbers of volunteers in WWI and WWII. For the United Nations, Canadians have died in Korea, Cyprus, and the Balkans, to name a few parts of the world. I would bet not one of these soldiers would regret the cause in which they gave their life. Now NATO has its largest task yet in Afghanistan.
In response to Claire Piech's article about the "Afghanistan mission fuels Whistler Forum discussion" I couldn't help but notice the negativity Claire put forward about the discussion. She states that 96 per cent of the participants at the forum agreed to some degree that Canada is involved in Afghanistan because of pressure from the U.S. That's understandable, but I think it would help the readers to know that it was NATO which forced the U.S.'s hand in letting NATO control the conflict. The U.S. did not want to give up command.
Also, instead of saying "a quarter of people did not think that sending troops to the war-torn nation is the price our country has to pay to bring peace and stability to the region", I believe a more positive note would be that 75 per cent of the people believe that this is the price we have to pay.
These countries need our help and as a developed nation it has to be our responsibility to give that help, or no one else will. We have all heard of teachers being killed for instructing girls, villagers being tortured and killed for not backing the Taliban, women being raped. These are not fictional stories, they are really happening and NATO is doing its best to stop it. The first step is to get rid of the murderers and unfortunately it will be messy, Canadians and Allies will die, but the Taliban fighters (who love to hide behind civilians) have it coming. Hopefully in the coming years Afghanistan will know a peace she hasn't seen in decades and again, Canadian's will be proud of saving another country's people from tyranny.
Hydrogen questions remain
Thank you for running the article by Matt Palmquist in our local paper. I found it well written, informative and balanced. However to cut to the chase and help me form an opinion on this issue I have a couple of simple questions that I am hoping someone out there (perhaps even the author of this article) can answer. If we were to put a purpose-built natural gas fueled hybrid bus (one with regenerative braking technology) on the exact same route as B.C. Transit's hydrogen bus which one would:
1. Use the least amount of natural gas?
2. Use the least amount of energy?
3. Put the least amount of CO2 into the atmosphere?
If anyone is confused by these questions they need to keep in mind that according to Mr. Palmquist the most common and economical way to produce hydrogen is the “reforming” process which requires natural gas and energy and produces carbon dioxide.
I don't know the answers to these questions but I feel that they are central to the issue and that everybody, especially our politicians, should have this information so as to be able to form an objective opinion on this important topic.
We have other choices
I regret your decision to place such a one-sided article regarding the Hydrogen Highway in last week’s Pique Newsmagazine.
This extremely under researched, or biased article can only add to the perception that there is nothing we can do to change the environmental predicament we have put ourselves into, without disrupting or totally destroying our present standard of life.
I have made numerous attempts to present an alternative system to the powers that be, that would allow us to process the 2 kilos per person per day waste that is generated worldwide into a real source of both hydrogen and ethanol, as fuel alternatives.
The old school ideas of what is available as a viable energy source still rely on hydrocarbons as our only real energy option.
Before Jan. 10, 1901, coal was the industrial fuel of choice; 100,000 barrels/day changed that.
Technologies exist which will allow us to relinquish our dependence on oil as our source of power. We only lack the will to take the step.
Who speaks for ‘us’?
First they came for the tourist, and I did not speak out because I was not a tourist.
Then they came for the seasonal workers, and I did not speak out because I was not a seasonal worker.
Then they came for the locals and I did not speak out because I was not a local.
Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak for me.