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Letters to the Editor for the week of June 25

Enforce the leash-your-dog bylaw
A dog runs through the leash-only part of Rainbow Park. Photo by Clare Ogilvie

Enforce the leash-your-dog bylaw

The rules of play are “leash your dog.”

The signs are up. No reasons are necessary.

If you want to change the rules, run for council and see whether the community has changed its mind regarding protection for residents, visitors and bears.

Forget education ... unless that is reading lessons! It is important, even more so on the mountain than in the valley, that directive signs in Whistler are not regarded as optional.  

No waivers are signed before use of the Valley Trail. Dog bites and attacks are serious and distressing. Injuries to cyclists and pedestrians as a result of dog collisions and avoidance manoeuvres may be more rare, but are potentially worse. 

If Whistler advertises itself in the U.S., is it going to take a U.S. lawsuit to expensively convince the municipality to enforce the bylaw? 

Mayor Jack Crompton is right that it’s unrealistic to think bylaw officers will hit every stretch of trail and every park in a given day, but that is not the way enforcement works.

The RCMP enforces highway speed limits by unexpected unpredictable significant action. The municipality must do the same. Compliance will follow.

William Caulfield // Whistler/North Vancouver

Phase 2?

Making predictions on anything COVID-19 has often been proven a fool’s errand. That said, based on the scrums, huddles and people-bunching tactics I saw in the village on Saturday, June 20, I won’t be surprised if cases [of COVID-19] show up with Whistler origins due to the shocking lack of social distancing and other reckless behaviours on display. 

People were packed into pizza shops and onto playgrounds (parents seemingly ignorant and uninterested with a couple of dozen kids moshed together). Large groups congregated and blocked sidewalks ignoring the guidelines laid out by [B.C.’s provincial health officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry and supported by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.  

All of our hard work and sacrifice put at risk by ignorant and careless visitors. I like our Village Stroll and embrace the concept of it being a place for locals and visitors to meet. For more than 25 years, I have been a village regular at work and at leisure. No longer and not for a long while.

B.K. Buchholz // Tapley’s Farm

Myrtle Philip parents say thanks

Last week was the [Sea to Sky School District] SD 48 Staff Appreciation week and on behalf of the parent community at Myrtle Philip Community School (MPCS), we would like to send our biggest possible thank-you to all the staff at Myrtle Philip School. 

The unprecedented events surrounding COVID-19 created intense complexity for our schools. Watching our school staff collaborate, innovate and reimagine learning over the past few months has been truly inspiring. 

While staff managed their own personal changes and challenges brought by COVID-19, they simultaneously led our students and families through these unprecedented events with safety, respect, courage, positivity and so much hard work. 

It is with deep heartfelt thanks to all of you: our custodial staff, teachers, administration, Robyn, Jeff, and our amazing education assistants that we wish you all a wonderful, restful summer.

Kelly Hand // MPCS Parent Advisory Council

Looking at Vail Resorts’ political contributions

Oh, for crying out loud. Mind if I call you Steve? Where were we… so Steve [Threndyle] finally took my bait and did what at least part of his profession demands—a bit of research (Letters to the Editor, Pique, June 18).

Unfortunately, as I have pointed out to him numerous times, cherry picking a few convenient statistics is hardly any journalist’s full job description. My curiosity regarding Vail Resorts’ “ties to the Republican Party” as he calls it is entirely contextualized by the extreme moral aberrance of the Republican Party’s present era where they fly their true colours, plus the position of cultural leadership (or lack thereof) which Vail Resorts presents in terms of actively opposing this repugnant political power. 

Without this context, Steve’s narrow focus on a single data point of campaign contributions is moot. He knew the context I required and he continues to deny it... as those in denial tend to do.

To further clarify my point, consider only one fact he neglects to mention. Previous to now and including the 2016 U.S. election cycle that gave us President Donald Trump, Vail Resorts’ Political Action Committee (PAC) did indeed contribute to the Republican Party as detailed by a Powder magazine article around that time. If this was their norm (it was) and now it is not (apparently so, although the 2020 election is still months away), then exactly why? 

Has Steve done his professional duty to ask them this pertinent question? Will they state it publicly? Will they join with Aspen Snowmass and other industry and cultural leaders in pledging loudly and publicly that from this point on, there will be no campaign funding of the climate-change denial machine known as the Trump Republicans?  

Yes, I realize these were employee donations, but faceless anonymous employees offer little in the way of leadership opportunities. Will Vail Resorts itself state this or similar?

For a number of years now, this is the context of my beef with Vail Resorts—the absence of leadership in an industry-wide, unified opposition to the Republican Party. Many, including Steve, respond that “corporations just don’t do that” and largely that is true, they don’t. However, these are not conventional times, climate change is not a conventional problem and Vail Resorts’ conventional excuses are flat-out inadequate. 

Look at it this way: If only the Ford Motor Company and other big shakers had stepped away from that same convention in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, their legacy and possibly others’ may have been a little bit rosier.

Bruce Kay // Powell River

Talking about trees

It doesn’t take a scientist. If you Google or wiki “trees,” it is all over the Internet. We need trees. 

Forests affect floods. Mess with your forests and you mess with the flow, and after a while, the forests can’t do their job and we pay for it.

Here are nine proven ways that trees make a big difference: Trees improve air and water quality, they reduce flooding and erosion, they temper climate, they conserve energy, are good for the economy, create habitat for plants and animals, and improve health.

Notice trees making good 2-by-4s, or supplying pulp or pellets for your wood stove doesn’t make the top 10?

Today, New Zealand has banned clear-cutting of old growth.

China has a moratorium on cutting any natural forests. They only log from tree farms, and they import most of their raw-log, old-growth from… wait for it… B.C.!

Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. In 2019, the Norwegian Parliament pledged that the government’s public procurement policy would be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country.

The Billion Tree Tsunami is a provincial government program described as a “true conservation success story.” In northwestern Pakistan, hundreds of millions of trees have been planted to fight deforestation and floods.

Ethiopia is in the middle of a campaign to plant 4 billion trees before the fall to combat deforestation and climate change.

B.C. has the science and ability to save our forests and plant new trees, it doesn’t have the appetite.

Look out your window at the lake and watch it rise while we continue to fell trees in our watersheds, our parks and our backyards. Look at the costs related to this flooding and watch them rise.

Taryn Skalbania // Peachland

We are all responsible in the COVID-19 fight

I lived in Whistler for 20 years and currently reside in Toronto. 

When COVID-19 became the headline news leader every night more than four months ago, the images from China, South Korea and Italy forced us to watch in horror and it put worry in our minds. 

People weeping in the streets, overcrowded hospitals, cold-storage containers used as morgues and mass graves are scary. The reality of what was to come had not hit home yet. 

When weeks ago, the Canadian government asked us to self-quarantine for 14 days, we thought, no sweat, we can do that with ease. 

It has not been easy. 

It has been filled with worry and frustration, disappointment and disillusion, misinformation and distraction, but on many occasions, great leadership and hope.

Two of the great embarrassments were the failures of [U.K. Prime Minster] Boris Johnson and [U.S. President] Donald Trump (both of whom exhibited an amazing lack of good sense fuelled by arrogance) to provide even a modicum of responsibility and leadership to their nations, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths. 

On the other hand, in New Zealand, a young mother and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was prioritizing genuine concern for human lives, gaining the support of her opposition and effectively reducing COVID-19 to its minimum. 

In Canada, our own PM Justin Trudeau, except for not closing our borders immediately, has done a good job. His financial assistance programs are the stuff of optimistic thinking and best possible effort. 

Of course we will pay the bills later. I’d rather be alive to pay a plethora of bills and hug my loved ones than slip quietly into the long night. (I have never seen a Brinks truck taking money to a gravesite and I’ll be damned before I believe there is a reward on some other side.) 

Doug Ford, a man I have criticized vigorously because I neither like him nor his politics, is a wonderful surprise. He stood as a non-partisan premier and held Ontario together. On this, he is worthy of great praise. In B.C., we see similar praise-worthy efforts and in fact, save for Quebec, which fumbled badly, across our nation, we have done well.

What we haven’t done well so far is us. Us, propagating conspiracy theories, advancing political positions through misinformation, challenging science with popularism, contributing to the mental disquiet. 

The experts have said this is an international pandemic, and describe it as a disaster similar to a major war. Deep in our minds we know this and are seeking solace.

There are no bullets, no bombs, no rockets, no explosions. That the instrument of our destruction is not identifiable to any of our five senses confuses us. We want answers. And in this age of instant gratification that we may have to wait months seems illogical and unsatisfactory. 

After all, we can build major things in months. This is a tiny virus. What the heck! 

Excuses to discredit the science abound. The one thing I know is science is not a theory. Science is that thing based on measurable consistencies that has been tested and proven true in any and every circumstance and condition. It is pure truth. 

So it behoves us to drop the theorizing, accept the carefully peer-vetted reports and be patient. 

The last great war lasted six years. Our grandparents survived it with much less of everything. For the most part, we have adequate homes, food, fuel, entertainment and communications systems, community resources, and governments around the world working together to defeat the enemy. That’s a first. I doubt boredom can kill, but I know COVID-19 will.

The other thing that we have not done well in Canada is mass testing for COVID-19. 

In my weird imagination, I find COVID-19 analogous to a serial killer. Much of the acceptable medical evidence has shown it can shift its target of attack. First it was pulmonary, then it showed up in asymptomatic patients seeking treatment for other illness in kidneys and hearts, and most recently, in a different attack on children.

The killer seems able to disguise and change tactics according to location and its prey. Constantly looking for a weakness to inhabit. 

I know personally of two friends who reported to hospital thinking they were infected, got tested and told they were not. It turned out 10 days later on insistence and secondary testing, they were both positive. Thankfully, they have both survived. 

As much as we have been quarantined, it only means we are hiding from the killer and have no idea where COVID-19 is seeking its next victims. One virologist went so far as to say it is morphing.

For us to resume any form of protective and restricted normalcy, we must become proactive, find the bastard and actively fight it with disinfection and forced isolation. Let me put that quite clearly, if on March 25 the federal government had declared it would start a national state of emergency for 40 days starting on April 1 and no one would be allowed out of their homes except for health workers, and mobilized the armed forces and police to do door-to-door checks on compliance and infection, we would be in a safe position now. 

We would have had time to get all the groceries and medication we needed (toilet paper, that great essential, notwithstanding) but that would have caused a hue and cry as draconian. Yet here we are. Stymied. 

We will not be able to rekindle any economy until we have mass tested and this plague is defeated. All the money in the world is not worth the death of my children. 

I would rather starve to death in my apartment. Every restauranteur knows it is hardly possible to break-even operating at half-capacity (I say that because that’s the business I am familiar with). And I am sure that’s true for many other businesses. The longer it takes to defeat COVID-19, the longer we will all be on life support.

However, be that as it may, it’s not all gloom and doom. The number of infections is down and similarly the number of deaths. Scientists have reported some advancement in the search for a vaccine and post broad-based testing will be able to start manufacturing in the not too distant future. 

Protocols at malls and “essential” services regarding masks and sanitized usage have improved. At two main entrances of my apartment building, sanitizer stations have been installed. To me, that’s a sign we are getting it. No matter how beautiful the weather or how enticing a round of golf, a barbecue or a small family gathering may be, keep your guard up. We are at a stage where prudence must govern our actions. 

You are responsible for yourself and also responsible to your family, friends and community. They love you and want you to be around. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay well.

One love …

Daryl “Rasta” Auwai // Toronto