Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Letters to the editor

This letter was addressed to Premier Gordon Campbell, Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, Jack Poole, Dave Davenport and Ted Nebbeling. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

This letter was addressed to Premier Gordon Campbell, Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, Jack Poole, Dave Davenport and Ted Nebbeling. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

I write this letter to assist your decision on the current deliberations on alternate routes or substantial upgrades to Highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler.

I speak to you with a background of experience, on the transportation needs for the Winter Olympic Venues. My firm was responsible for Master Planning Canada Olympic Park and Nakiska, site of the Alpine venues for the 1988 XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, as well as Snow Basin for the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in 2002. We have also completed Master Plans and venue design for the 1996 World Alpine Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain and for St. Anton, Austria in 2001.

The point of reference here is that I have personally visited all Winter Olympic venues held since 1956 in Cortina, and therefore I am familiar with the infrastructure, venue and especially the transportation system requirements.

Gentlemen, we do not need a $1.3 billion four-lane highway to Whistler to successfully win the rights to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games! More importantly, we definitely do not need a four-lane highway to host the Alpine and Nordic events at Whistler. I have a great fear that the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Bid Committee has over-emphasized the importance of a new or greatly-expanded highway from Vancouver to Whistler based upon well-meaning but certainly not experienced traffic and transportation consultant studies.

I recall Whistler in the early days when the transportation consultants told the Whistler Council definitively that Highway 99 could never accommodate more than 10,000 skiers per day at Whistler and Blackcomb, and hence the Blackcomb ski area wasn’t feasible and that 20,000 beds should be the maximum in the Whistler Valley. Whistler currently has 50,000 beds and Whistler-Blackcomb have peak days of 26,000 skiers which we handle comfortably.

I know of no other venue in the world that required a four-lane freeway between the host city and the Alpine and Nordic venues. Salt Lake City overbuilt their highways to the tune of several billion US dollars, and not only do I recall no traffic jams, but one could have correctly termed the traffic "light" during the Games last February.

I am very worried that taxpayer-funded commitments will have a reverse effect in the Vancouver 2010 bid successfully winning the IOC’s nomination to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. As a local resident and business owner in Whistler for over 30 years, I believe I speak for many people when I say that our biggest fear of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games bid is a massive highway upgrade between Vancouver and Whistler. We have designed and built Whistler on the basis of sustainability and land-use capability. The carrying capacity of the mountains has been balanced with the carrying capacity of the valley and environmentally sensitive lands set aside in perpetuity. We long ago established a bed cap at Whistler, firstly for 40,000 beds, then 45,000 beds. Now I believe it has reached 52,500 beds and I can assure you that you can expect very strong local resistance if there are proposals to open up the whole of the Howe Sound-Whistler-Pemberton corridor to unlimited and unfettered development.

Keeping our highway safe, scenic and enjoyable is a higher priority than substantial increases in capacity. I believe that if we hire some Swiss highway engineers and drill three or four tunnels, we can build a very safe and effective highway (with new passing lanes to keep traffic moving) for in the order of $300 million. We don’t need four lanes with increased capacity and we especially do not need four to five years of highway closures, construction delays, etc. This is not just short-term thinking about four or five years of business interruption and personal hassles. This is to advise you against the very strong potential for a severe backlash from the Whistler community and the taxpayers of British Columbia, for investing in a highway whose size and capacity is simply not needed to host a 16-day Olympic Winter Games event. It is especially unaffordable on the backs of B.C.’s taxpayers more than ever at the present time.

I am in contact with several IOC members and officials, as well as top officials from Nordic and Alpine skiing and can assure you that from what I have heard in several countries in Europe and Asia, Whistler-Vancouver has a very strong bid and it will not be decided by spending another billion dollars on a highway. While we do need new Nordic facilities in the Callaghan Valley, Whistler and Blackcomb can host the Alpine events with ease. Whistler is a very large and sophisticated resort community and if politicians do not go crazy with mega-projects, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games should be a very exciting and enjoyable period for Whistler, Vancouver and British Columbia.

Independent polling by the IOC shows that public support for the 2010 Bid is far below what the Bid Committee has claimed. If there is a lack of public support, this will hurt the Vancouver 2010 Bid far more than promising a new or greatly improved highway to Whistler.

I therefore urge you to act with good conscience and sound advice and propose only affordable and meaningful improvements to Highway 99 for the longer-term to match the carrying capacity of the Howe Sound-Whistler corridor and not go overboard with perceived fears of the importance of a mega-highway to Whistler to host 16 days of sporting events.

Paul Mathews

Ecosign — Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.

Whistler, B.C.


To "upgrade" the Sea-to-Sky highway is actually to "downgrade" it; and yet the Ministry of Transportation persists in its crusade to make it the major B.C. thoroughfare to the north.

This highway is recognized as one of the most beautiful scenic routes in North America. People throughout the world who have driven it write and speak of its glories. It is the coastal jewel of B.C.; the only highway winding along Canada's pacific shore. To drive it is to traverse majestic mountains, lush, green forests, always accompanied by fresh breezes, always with he guarantee of stunning new vistas around the next bend.

The Sea to Sky, with its parks, beaches, historic sites, accessible resting points and trails, was intended and originally constructed, not as an access to somewhere else, but as an experience all its own. To alter its nature as a scenic wonder is to destroy a special marvel that, once gone, can never be restored.

I know the argument of upgrading for the sake of safety. I have lived in Lions Bay 12 years and have seen the number of deaths increase annually as the traffic has increased. I'm as disgusted as anyone else by the carnage, the noise levels and the toxic fumes. Tour buses, huge trucks with trailers and business vehicles of all sorts, unseen a decade ago, now ply their way to service Whistler and environs. The increase in accidents has occurred primarily because Sea to Sky is the only highway currently available. All traffic is compelled to use it.

The Ministry of Transportation should long ago have planned for an alternative route that provides rapid and direct access to the north. It is too late.

Save the Sea to Sky for what it is. Build another thoroughfare to serve the north. Construct it straight enough, wide enough and strong enough to carry those who are intent only on destination and on getting there in the shortest possible time. Add a toll to this new road if finances demand it. But don't destroy the Sea to Sky. The "upgrade" currently envisioned is not only foolhardy, it is a fraudulent appropriation of the heritage entitled to future generations of all Canadians and our international guests.

Lawrence W. Denef

Lions Bay


Is the timing of the Whistler. It’s Our Future workshops a bit curious? These public relations seminars and announcements are scheduled to occur in the middle of an election campaign. One might get the impression that these workshops are a taxpayer-funded re-election campaign for the current administration. I propose an eight week recess from the Whistler. It’s Our Future process. This would leave us free to discuss election issues, and evaluate the last six years. After the election, we can continue our look into the future.

Jim Watts



Councillor Ted Milner does not believe the resort is in a critical situation when it comes to housing.

"I’m not sure at the moment that we have a crisis." he said.

"I think that we have moved forward with the 3,800 bed units we have put in place and overall we are housing 75 per cent of residents.

"Everybody keeps talking crisis but I’m not sure there is one."

Perhaps Councillor Milner thinks we should wait until it is a crisis – then what?

But since Councillor Milner is on the Board of the Whistler Housing Authority, he must know that the 1999/2000 Overview states that 79 per cent of the workforce was housed in Whistler. Now you’re telling us that has shrunk to 75 per cent. So what ever happened to the "WHA goal: House 80 per cent of Whistler’s workforce within municipal boundaries, with one in three of those individuals living in resident restricted housing?"

Or if percentages are confusing, let’s talk numbers: "It is a goal of the Whistler Housing Authority to see the inventory of resident restricted beds increase to 4,800 by 2003." Here it is mid-September 2002; in less than 100 days and we require 1,000 bed units to reach that goal.

Maybe Councillor Milner is so smart he looked up "crisis" in the Random House Dictionary – "a crucial stage at which future events are determined." With his attitude I would have to agree that there is no crisis when it comes to housing, there is a definite lack of a crucial stage at which the future of housing in Whistler is being determined.

Bob Lorriman



Now that Whistler Housing Authority has blown most of it's financial reserves, the municipality should consider how Vancouver Council is approaching the problem of rental housing. It's simply: you don't get any zoning unless you set aside 20 per cent of your development for affordable rental housing.

Under the program, families and singles unable to afford the prices charged to the rich and famous have the opportunity to rent a place at preferred rates. Renters must follow specific guidelines, but pay no more than 30 per cent of proven income.

This means an individual earning minimum wage (from the company that sells and owns most of the developments in Whistler) could rent a place for $400 per month.

The City of Vancouver has been invoking the policy at various new and desirable developments in their city. Many are on the Expo lands, and the latest is a 30-storey tower at Jervis and Cordova.

There is still lots of cash left on the table for realtors and developers. Perhaps we can come together to solve one of Whistler's biggest problems.

Al Eaton



I really believe that the Official Community Plan is our community of Whistler's heart and soul.

It does not state anywhere in the Municipal Act that you can sell bed units to developers. But in municipal law it states what a conflict of interest is, and in that statement it says generally: if it is perceived to be of conflict of interest (by the public) then it is.

It is a conflict with the best interest of our community and our efforts for Whistler. Ask a local how they feel.

We need someone to take case of Whistler. Watch for those running for municipal elections for council. See who is taking care of our community interests. Nov. 6 and 9, early polls; Nov. 16, election.

Sonya McCarthy



If we are to live in a true democracy, every candidate for public office's campaign should have equal access to ALL media. If this were the case, elections would (hopefully) be determined by a candidate's political platform, rather than how many lawns sport their likeness. I'm sure there are many good people with good ideas and good intentions who would like to run for office, but cannot afford the competition of a political campaign. For those candidates who can afford political advertising, the money must come from somewhere. More often than not, they come in the form of campaign contributions.

The corporate campaign contribution is a great way to keep the real power in industry's corridors. The most cunning industries scratch as many backs as possible so, in return (on investment), they can pull as many strings as possible. In America, the credit card industry helps bankroll both political parties (two choices, quite the democracy), ensuring the success of any protection their lobbyists might submit to their senate or congress. In B.C., we've become accustomed to corporate campaign contributions of a more scandalous type. I wonder how many backyard pools will be built when it comes time to "bid" out the contracts for an expanded Sea to Sky Highway.

In the end, it's the taxpayers who pay the price of these corporate campaign contributions. Whether it's in the form of more stringent personal bankruptcy laws, resource industry's destruction of the environment, or court costs associated with crooked politicians, we bear the brunt of all corporate-political handshakes and handjobs.

All elections should be decided on what candidates have to say, not how often or loud they say it. The media should be made responsible to provide the same exposure for every candidate and political party and do anything else they can to level the electoral playing field. This includes any subjective journalism encouraged by editors with hidden political agendas. With looming municipal elections, I urge our two local rags to refuse any political advertising, and to provide equal information on every candidate through debates and stadardized interviews. Take the higher ground.

Alex Nikolic



Now that two young Squamish residents have been legally charged with the death of Bob McIntosh, it's a definite hazard for those party member who were also present, but have refused to talk to the investigators, and probably have significant observations of the details and person(s) specifically involved.

Both these other individuals (and their families) will have to come to grips with their long standing refusal to give information, if the two involved individuals are given major legal sentencing, and decide to specify the others involved.

May the final chapter be a complete and honest pursuit of the legal responsibility for this abhorrent death.

Doug Bebb



G.D. Maxwell's thoughtful Sept. 13th column on marijuana concluded with a rather depressing note. The author doesn't expect to live long enough to see marijuana prohibition ended. Granted, opportunistic politicians who've built careers on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with a plant won't likely embrace Senate findings that marijuana is relatively benign, marijuana prohibition contributes to organized crime, and law enforcement efforts have little impact on patterns of use.

In addition to spineless MPs, there's the problem of Canada's tough-on-some-drugs neighbour. The U.S. government's commitment to destroying the lives of citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis is hardly reason to maintain the status quo, yet U.S. pressure is repeatedly cited in the Canadian press as reason to retain marijuana prohibition. Consider the experience of the former land of the free and current record holder in citizens incarcerated.

The steady rise in police searches on public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools, and suspicionless drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties, while failing miserably at preventing drug use. Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions, a majority of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition, and perhaps because of forbidden fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries intent on legislating their version of morality. Canada should follow the lead of Europe and Just Say No to the American Inquisition.

The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at:

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC


Having just wrapped up our very successful Mountain Nature Festival over the weekend, we have a ton of people to thank.

Overbooked field trips on Friday were cheerfully led by Don MacLaurin, Veronica Sommerville, Tina Symko, and Kristina Swerhun. Florence Petersen gave a great intro to Whistler history to our out-of-town guests.

The Friday slide show dazzled the 150-strong audience in MY Place, with images and music by Nancy Ricker, Jon Faulknor, Leanna Rathkelly, Dean Cote, Pete Brennan, and Bonny Makarewicz. Thanks very much to Billy, Mickey, and the staff at MY Place for helping it run smoothly, and to Kathryn Shepherd and Cathy Conroy for putting it together.

Jack Souther, Mitch Sulkers, Cathy Conroy, Karl Ricker, and Lee Edwards provided the 50 participants in the alpine walks with the best alpine guides ever. Heather Baines, Nancy Ricker, and Jim Wisnia managed to find some birds after all (including 3 soras and one Virginia rail). Thanks to Tom Hurd for coming all the way from Banff National Park to talk on Saturday night about wildlife conservation issues. And thanks to Lucy Joseph and Anne-Marie Kozyk for leading the herbology walks on Sunday.

Events like these couldn’t happen without enthusiastic volunteers like Rita Rice, Judy Bonn, Sharon Tyrell, Marie-France Dubois, Betty Souther, Jim Cook, Jane Millen, Sheila Sherkat, and Karen Overgaard and Kris Shoup from the Whistler Museum. We also had great support from local businesses, notably: Slalom Photo, Whistler 1 Hour Foto Source, Slopeside Supply, Rainbow Retreats Accommodation, Tantalus Lodge, Whistler-Blackcomb, RMOW, Community Foundation of Whistler, Jody’s Internet Cafe, AVW-TelAV, and Keenan Moses (Whistler Eco-Tours).

Finally, to Irene Stupka and Cathy Conroy who put so much work into the event. Hope that’s not why both are now heading out of Whistler and back to school.

Bob Brett

on behalf of the Board of Directors,

Whistler Naturalists


It doesn’t get any better

Thank you so much to all the wonderful volunteers and organizers of the Annual Terry Fox Run held this past Sunday.

The event is always a great day for our family as we run, push and ride the 10k course amongst many smiling and friendly locals and of course, the "cause" is even greater.

The weather was perfect, the course was filled with encouraging volunteers, and the Riverside Campground proved to be a perfect location for the start/finish area.

Upon finishing the race, as I enjoyed some of the generously donated treats including a warm, freshly-baked cookie and a cup of hot java, I looked around at the diverse group of rejuvenated locals enjoying the moment of good friends, good tunes, good treats and that great feeling of supporting something that really does save lives, and I thought to myself: "it doesn’t get any better than this."

But great as it was, I am always surprised that the attendance at this event isn’t much larger. I’m not sure if it’s because people think they aren’t capable of running or walking 5 or 10k or if they just don’t realize what a great event it really has become. As for the not being able to run/walk 5 or 10k, well then just come out and buy a T-shirt, donate a little money to a huge cause and enjoy the company.

I encourage everyone to put this event on your calendar next year and I look forward to seeing you all there. Thanks again to everyone who worked so hard to put on another great event.

Janalee Budge



The parents, teachers and students of The Alta Lake School would like to thank Teresa and Rob at Whistler-Blackcomb for allowing school to begin when our classrooms were under construction last week. The children had an amazing time at the Children's Learning Center at Olympic Station. What a great adventure to start school each morning by loading the gondola and heading up the mountain! It was a perfect start to our school year. Thank you very, very much!

The Grade 1 to 5 classes of The Alta Lake School