How many of us have ever dialled 911? What happens when we do? Does the system work?
First off I want to concede that the British Columbia Ambulance Service probably saves hundreds of lives a year and we wouldn't want to get along without it.
Secondly though I feel a duty to inform my community of Whistler that on Feb. 28, 2001, after talking my distraught son, suffering from acute depression. I called 911 from the mountain on my cell phone and instructed them to send an ambulance to my home ASAP, to attend to him. The arrival of an ambulance nearly 30 minutes later clearly cost my son his life.
I know that the ambulance station is only a 2-3 minute drive from my home. Even if they were somewhat busy there is more than one ambulance. Even then there is more than meets the eye. A 911 call does not go to the Whistler Medical Clinic or the Whistler Ambulance Station. The call goes to a call centre in Vancouver where it is assessed and then relayed back up to Whistler for dispatch. In our familys unfortunate case my original call was, in my lawyers words, improperly assessed and incorrectly downgraded according to B.C.A.S.'s code assessment guidelines. My tone of voice was not hysterical which led to an incorrect assessment. The call was also downgraded because I asked them not to have sirens on. I did this for two very good reasons 1) I wanted to preserve any self-esteem he had left in case he wasn't planning to harm himself and 2) I didn't want to startle him in case he was. In addition to this error there is an unexplained gap of about 15 minutes, from the time the 911 call was received and when it was dispatched back up to the Whistler Medical Clinic.
As in the case with most all large corporations and government agencies after our inquiries they went into a self protection mode, washed their hands, absolved themselves from any liability and closed the file. The reason I am writing this now that there is a two year window of opportunity to commence any legal proceedings. Both the coroner and B.C.A.S. "dragged" the process out until the final report came out a few days before the end of that period. Yes they were sorry about Kelty but no apologies or recommendations from the coroners report or B.C.A.S.'s manager of planning or policy were made.
I truly don't know who I would call if the situation arose again. I was in the weight room a few months after the tragedy when a Whistler fireman approached me and said, "If it happened again, I suggest you call the fire department first." It's as if Kelty fell through the cracks twice.
My wife and I have been trying to turn our boy's death into something positive. I hope that with this warning to all of you off our minds we will be able to continue the work with our foundation. For further information please refer to our Web site www.thekeltyfoundation.org .
Bring your problems and solutions to the Field House.
This letter is for all Whistlerites but especially the 18-30 year olds.
I often hear our age group complain about Whistler. But, I also hear our age group come up with great community wide solutions to the issues. Some of this group leaves because they can't handle it any more, and others stick around trying to make ends meet, sulking in private. However what I rarely see is a proportionate number of our demographic at council meetings, public hearings, or at the voting booths voicing their problems or solutions for their community.
I understand that it is difficult to get involved in Whistler's community issues because it doesn't always seem like our community "its the tourist's community," I often hear. And it is also hard for our age group to even think about committing to a future here. These feelings are understandable, especially with the very high cost of living, the low wages doled out by the tourism industry, the high ratio of tourists to residents, the loss of classic Whistler symbols and the fact that many of our best friends have moved to Squamish, Pemberton and other towns. (See Andrew Mitchells article last weeks Pique or insert your own reasons.)
It is also difficult to get engaged in community issues because it can be daunting. Speaking in front of councillors or a group of people (sometimes up to 100) that you don't know is scary. And writing letters to the town ensures that your thoughts are only heard by a few. My advice is remember no matter what you think, councillors are in fact people, with a heart and head and all of the other qualities of a human being. Sometimes they don't listen, but the good ones always do. And if they have taken the Whistler Spirit Course from the chamber of commerce they will understand that it is good to empathize with people first and then search for solutions, as opposed to jumping to conclusions or defending their position. Note to councillors: Empathy is important, especially to the residents who spend eight hours, at a minimum, each day empathizing with people they dont even know.
On Wednesday, May 7, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Spruce Grove Field House (near the softball fields in Spruce Grove) you have a fantastic opportunity to engage in a dialogue with your town councillors and other members of your community at small round table discussions. Quit complaining and solving the communitys problems in private. Get out there and share your concerns and ideas on how you want your community of Whistler to be run. Youll be amazed at how many others think the way that you do.
The time has come to get serious about transportation in the Sea to Sky corridor. There is a problem, but widening the highway is only a Band-Aid solution. A more proactive approach would also help B.C. get in step with Canada´s ratification of the Kyoto Accord, and perhaps help decrease the provincial debt.
Firstly, Victoria should make Air Care mandatory for all vehicles (including commercial ones) throughout the entire province, not just those in the greater Vancouver area. Secondly, prohibitive tolls on (at least) Highway 99 are the way to go. If a toll of $10 per empty seat were initiated near the Horseshoe Bay ferry toll station, we would see many fewer private vehicles on the highway. People would still come to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. As this part of the province is very unique in its scope and location, they wouldnt choose another destination instead. They would simply carpool or choose other means of transportation.
If one person got in their car and drove to Whistler, it would cost them $30. If they brought three friends, it would cost them nothing. Based on this, visits may even increase. The same toll would apply to Pemberton, Whistler, and Squamish residents as well. More people would bus it, and those that need to go to the city would probably do so less often. Those who incur the additional cost for the purpose of doing business, could claim a portion on their tax return.
The government could take the revenue from these tolls, and subsidize public transportation. Transit fees (at least in Whistler) arent exactly an incentive not to drive to and from the village; $3 is a steep price to pay to go, say, from Nordic to the village and back. A real incentive to leave the car at home would be free public transit. Tolls on 99 could help make this happen.
PS. A $2,000 maximum fine for those impeding four vehicles or more, if strictly enforced, would help things move along, as well.
In response to comments made in the Pique Newsmagazine's sports section last week regarding the new Whistler Summer Gravity Festival:
Does "Whistler Summer Sessions" ring a bell? Marika Koenig, Claire Bonin and I, not to mention many others, of Team Events and Marketing Management, were major contributors to the Whistler cycling scene for a number of years. We hosted a large number of events, including Canada Cup events, B.C. Cup events, local races, an annual tour stop on the Exterra offroad triathalon series from Hawaii, road races in Pemberton, a B.C. Cup race on Vancouver Island, a cycling festival in Victoria, and a bicycle equipment swap in Vancouver. We built and maintained, at our expense, a large number of the trails both around Whistler Valley and on Whistler Mountain.
We developed and grew the 10-day long Whistler Summer Sessions Mountain Bike Festival to the level where we had a globally recognized event, with participants from all over the world. In fact, as I'm sure you will remember, it was our goal to successfully bid for and hold a stop on the UCI World Cup Tour. We were successful with our bid and the World Cup was to be held in Whistler, with promises of the World Cup Finals in our third year.
But, due to unforeseen circumstances, our dream was shattered. Our ambition to host a triple event stop on the World Cup schedule was perhaps our demise. Had we been more insightful and settled with just the downhill and dual downhill events, and scratched the x-country event, the UCI would never have asked us for host venue support, and the issues that ultimately caused our demise would have never arose. Instead we were forced by the UCI to get host venue support if we wanted to hold all three events. Legal issues and unresolved disagreements between us and Whistler Mountain insured that the event was doomed and Team Management was forced to fold.
Claire, Marika and I dedicated much of our lives to this company and its quiver of events. The fact that the new Whistler Summer Gravity Festival is referred to as "a brand new concept in mountain biking coming to town," and called "a seven-day summer festival to celebrate all that is mountain biking" is extremely disturbing. This event is no different than our completely successful, Whistler Summer Sessions Mountain Bike Festival. There is nothing "new" about the concept or this type of event. The name is practically the same as ours, and the events are identical (ie: the Village Fat Tire Criterium, yes we came up with that one).
"Its going to be a really exciting and diverse event," said Rob McSkimming. How come when we had an existing "really exciting and diverse event," Whistler Summer Sessions, nothing was done to try and preserve and grow it? Is it more beneficial that an existing company is forced out of business so that another can have their turn? Hopefully the organizers of the new Whistler Summer Gravity Festival look to the past so that they may better plan their future. Best of luck with the "brand new concept."
P.S. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers that made each and every one of our events a success. You are the real reason any events happen in this town.
I am a law abiding, eight-year resident of this fine town. A couple of weekends ago, I had the misfortune to make a terrible error in judgement. After having an evening out on the town with a couple of mates, I called it a night around midnight and started to make my way home alone and on foot. I admit that I had had quite a skin full, and may well have been staggering around a bit, but as many friends will attest, I am a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy after a few tasty beverages.
It was therefore with great surprise that as I was heading past the taxi rank on the way down to the Valley Trail, I was approached by a couple of the RCMP's finest officers. These great upholders of justice then proceeded to inform me that for my own safety, I would be better off spending the night sleeping off my euphoric state on the cozy floor of a concrete 10 foot x 10 foot room (sans view). While I appreciated their concern for my well being, I told them that I was just fine and would quietly continue on my journey back home, if that was all right with them. Quite evidently, that wasn't all right with them, and before I could reach for my mace (which my mother always insists I carry when I'm out after dark on the streets of Whistler!), I was handcuffed and roughly marched over to the cop shop. There I spent an interesting night on the floor of a blood-splattered cell (not my blood), with no water for six hours. (The previous occupant had apparently tried to flood the toilet in the cell by stuffing his underwear down it. The plumbing had been turned off and wasn't running again until the early hours of the morning.)
Did I deserve this kind of treatment? I'm sure some would say that if I can't hold my beer I shouldn't have been out in public in a drunken state. I certainly don't condone this type of behaviour, but if the good officers didn't trust my ability to walk home without falling in a ditch, why didn't they just throw me in a cab, or give me a five-minute ride home, or heaven forbid, let me call my wife and plead with her to come and pick me up? (I wasn't allowed a phone call throughout the 9.5 hours I spent inside, and thus my wife had no idea where I was.)
I know our boys and girls in blue have their work cut out for them on a busy weekend and I certainly don't envy what they do, but I feel that their treatment towards me was over zealous and unnecessary.
Whistler Dream Gone, part 2
To the lovely folks who stole our barbecue last Friday night; YOU SUCK. Its not the loss of the grill, although it will cost us a few days work to replace it, its the loss of feeling safe and friendly in the neighbourhood. Do I know you? Have we smiled and nodded in passing on the Valley Trail? Probably not. Chances are youre a transient, drifting through town, moving on when everyone has had enough of you. Id like to say, "enjoy the barbecue" in an accepting, non-materialistic way, but actually I hope, owing to the laws of BBQ karma, you suffer a summer of over-done chops, dry salmon and scorched veggies. Or a continuous series of flare-ups that deprives you of eyebrows for life.
So honest folk of Alpine beware, low lifes are trolling for the easy score. And if your buddy just "found" a cheap barbecue, enjoy it but keep an eye on your money, your beer and your girlfriend; your buddy is a thief. And while we can get a new grill, hell always be a thief.
We have lived here in Whistler for over 30 years on our own property above Bear Creek Subdivision at Creekside. On Good Friday, April 15, 2003, my husband Alex and son Ian drove to the top of our place. Much to their disgust and anger, they found someone had cut down about 14 large evergreens on the eastern portion of our land, abutting the Kadenwood Development. We wonder who could have been so vicious as to desecrate these trees that added so much beauty to the mountains.
Our abhorrence at the wanton act of vandalism and lawlessness is outmatched by our own wrath at the perpetrators of this despicable act. We can only ask "who" and "why?"
Our family is offering a reward to anyone with information pertaining to this violation that leads to the arrest and conviction of the accused. Please contact the RCMP directly at 604-932-3044 (File #20032674) and help us find and prosecute the guilty person or persons responsible for this crime.