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Letters to the editor for the week of April 25th

WSSF stands strong
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WSSF stands strong

Last week the World Ski and Snowboard Festival made the statement that nothing will get in the way of showing our locals and guests the time of their lives. Congratulations to Sue Eckersley, the entire Watermark team and all the awesome volunteers for executing another exceptional World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

WSSF rose to the challenge of making this year's festival better than ever before. The Festival's partners including Olympus, Coca-Cola, Bud Light, Dose.ca, Monster Energy and many others ensured all the action and awe flowed through each and every day. Without the support, enthusiasm and participation of these important relationships the festival would not exist. Thank-you to all sponsors for your support.

We took in new events like the Vengeance In The Valley roller derby bout; saw iconic favourites get even bigger with the addition of 72hr. Filmmaker Showdown ENCORE; and witnessed the free outdoor concert series line-up, which included the legendary Nas, get taken up a notch through the generous support of the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Festivals Events and Animation funding.

Business in Whistler in April wouldn't be what it is without the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. In its 18th year the World Ski and Snowboard Festival continues to involve us, and inspire us, and we are so proud. Thank-you Watermark, for another amazing year — let the countdown to 2014 begin.

Dave Brownlie

president, Whistler Blackcomb

Derby Love!

Once upon a time in a Coast Mountain ski town, a group of women got together to learn to roller skate, fall, hit and to love derby! The resulting Whistler Roller Girls Society (WRGS) has been championing the sport of roller derby here at home in hopes of having a local team, a local skating venue, and ultimately a hometown bout!

Thanks to hard work, determination and, of course, pure passion, this amazing group of women was able to realize its dreams! The WRGS is grateful to so many people who helped to produce such a successful introduction to Whistler on April 15, at Vengeance in the Valley!

WRGS would like to thank Watermark, Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival and Tourism Whistler for their support and the opportunity for a grand debut. We had a blast and loved being a part of the festival! Thanks to Ray Hicks & Rona for the generous support! Thanks to the Ullus Community Centre in Mt. Currie for including us and accepting us into your community. Without your facility, we would not have a valley skating venue during the winter.

Thanks to City Centre Park in Langford for the SportCourt rental, and to all of the volunteers who spent the day with us building the floor, setting up the track and tearing down. Other sponsors include: Creekside Dental, Whistler Brewing Company, Rollergirl, Regional Recycling and the Whistler Question. Thanks also to DJ &E at XL Audio, Mike Wilson at GLC and all who donated prizes and helping hands for our fall fundraiser!

To our team members — on or off skates, skating officials, non-skating officials, MCs, DJs, photographers, reporters, coaches, guest coaches and derby husbands and wives, we are grateful for your desire to help make this a reality! We thank the Sea to Sky Sirens, our derby sisters to the south, who have been instrumental in supporting a league in Whistler. Thanks for being great role models and showing us so much derby love!

Finally, we would like to thank our fans, new and old! What an amazing atmosphere! Let's do it again at our next event on June 1st at Meadow Park! Stay tuned for details at www.whistlerrollergirls.com.

Nicole Lauzon (Natural Born Spiller)

Black Diamond Betties

Whistler

HemLoft parking woes

While visiting here the last couple of weeks I've read with interest the story about the HemLoft and the owner's desire to remove it.

Since not all of our family skis we thought it would make an interesting outing to visit the site before it was removed.

I've one question... Where will you park if you are successful (at finding a new owner) and need to remove the materials?

We along with several other interested parties found our vehicles being towed by an over-zealous tow truck operator despite there being no signage in the area indicating a no parking zone, and no residences (aside from the HemLoft) within any walking distance.

So, if you're heading out for a look, take a lot of cash with you, and a good pair of walking shoes. You'll need them!

Rob Allan

Tara, Ontario

Editor's note: The Hemloft has since been dismantled and removed.

Moose woes

I'm fishing in Terrace and every day, every place (I go) I see moose — in an apple orchard, on the river, downtown... moose, moose, moose.

Here a moose, there a moose, everywhere a moose, moose. No reason to get excited, no reason at all.

Interesting that the preservation of our Whistler wetlands, ideal for moose habitat, truly backfired.

In Terrace there were no flashing-light by-law vehicles, no ticketing police, no tourists dripping with camera equipment chasing moose through the swamp, and no conservation officers shooting tranquillizers or transporting moose out of the area.

Nope.

All quiet on the western front. Sad the pregnant-non-pregnant moose died after transplanting.

Maybe everyone should have been tranquillized but the moose?

Geoff Swan

Whistler

Fire destroys extended family's home

(Lil'wat territory — Mount Currie) This past Good Friday (March 29th), four generations of the Williams family (including 13 people, four cats, four dogs and a brood of chickens) lost everything but one trailer and their lives to a fire. Their clothes and personal possessions, their extensive documentation of their history, their regalia, their tools, their appliances, their outdoor kitchen and their preserved food burnt to the ground in less than 15 minutes.

Often when disaster strikes, people can find temporary shelter with their relatives. But in this case, almost the whole extended family lived under one roof. The very next day, a bingo was held to help out, someone donated a tent, a friend drove up from Vancouver to lend them her RV, and donation boxes are scattered throughout the community. But unfortunately, none of this will be enough to rebuild the Williams' family home.

In the 1960s John Williams (now 73) and his helpers built their house. His wife Mary is an expert organic farmer and for decades the whole family (as well as the many friends who passed through or stayed) lived on the produce of their garden and the fish they canned.

Mary and John live outside the system. They prefer to continue their independent lifestyle and pay for everything that needs money with their own earnings. Whatever funds they have needed they earned by teaching, or by selling hand-made items and wild crafted resources from their territory. They are adamant in staying true to their principled belief in being self-sustaining, free and independent in order to assert their right to sovereignty with dignity.

John and Mary are currently staying in a borrowed RV while they clean up debris from the fire. They were given a temporary place to cook and shower. Many more friends are ready to lend a hand, but an estimated $50,000 dollars would still be needed to buy the minimum in construction materials, tools and supplies to build a basic cabin. They have approximately five months before winter sets in to make a new roof over their heads. To help, please donate to: The Scotia Bank, Account # 01800 00392-84.

Silvaine Zimmermann

Pemberton

Time to take a stand

There is a lot to oppose these days in Canada, and it seems we are being inundated with environmental, economic and democratic concerns from all angles.

It can get overwhelming but in order to keep B.C., Canada and even the world a place in which we want to live, I believe we must oppose these injustices in any way we can. One issue of urgent concern here in B.C., especially in the southwest corner of B.C., is the current private assault on our rivers.

Did you know that in B.C. there are currently 45 Independent Power Projects (IPP's) in operation, 33 in development and more than 800 applications under way? Our economy and environment are both threatened by these projects.

Financial Concerns: Under the so called Clean Energy Plan and Act, the Liberal government has forced BC Hydro to purchase power from IPP's at a much higher rate than it can produce and sell power. BC Hydro will be threatened with bankruptcy and this will be passed along to ratepayers through higher prices for electricity, under the guise of "green energy."

B.C. does not need this energy as BC Hydro has a 10-year energy surplus, but is now contracted to IPP's for over $50 billion. The power produced by these IPP's was meant to be sold to California, but they do not recognize this as eco-friendly power production and will not purchase it.

Environmental Concerns: There are approximately 200 species going extinct everyday — 200! That's 73,000 a year! This world is running out of pristine wilderness at an accelerating rate, the habitats to these species, and we owe it to future generations and life on this planet to leave it intact.

We certainly need to protect it from money-grubbing corporations that do nothing but harm nature and the public. Over 70 per cent of IPP's are located in known or suspected fish habitat, and up to 99 per cent of the river's flow can be diverted. Cutbacks to the Ministry of the Environment and the Department of Fisheries mean the already weak environmental standards cannot be properly monitored or enforced.

Despite the poor monitoring, in 2010 there were over 700-recorded incidents of non-compliance at just 16 IPP's on the south coast. Infractions include exceeding the ramping rate, the rate at which water levels are increased or decreased. Ramping too quickly results in fish getting stranded or trapped on the banks of the river. I'm sure there would be more fish getting trapped too, but how can fish survive in one per cent of the water that should be there?

When the fish populations get taken out, other species important to our ecosystems, such as bears and bald eagles won't be far behind. Of course logging to accommodate transmission lines up to 100 kilometres in length isn't good for the environment and neither are the new roads necessary for these projects.

Stunning Keyhole Falls and the Upper Lillooet valley near Pemberton, B.C. have been approved for two IPP's, one on the Lillooet and one on Pebble Creek, but still do not have their water licences and land tenure permits. A decision will be made on these on April 30th.

If you care about this incredible and unique environment, or the financial concerns associated, please write an email or call about it today.

I oppose IPP's and encourage you to get educated on the subject, speak with your friends and neighbours about it, and write letters about this issue to your MLA's ASAP. This could and should become a major election issue.

It's time we all start standing up for what is best for our province, its people, and the environment and we need to protect what is left of it.

For an excellent and detailed report by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society on IPP's please check the link http://www.watershed-watch.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/TamedRivers-Web.pdf

Greg Funk

Pemberton

IPP clarification needed

I had a flyer dropped at my door this week (by the organizers against the Pemberton Creek Power Project). Thank-you. The information in the flyer raised some questions. Can you address these in your next flyer?

Statement: River diversion projects threaten to ruin our beautiful valley and long-term tourism jobs.

Question: How do I reconcile that statement with the fact that the Fitzsimmons Creek power project in Whistler is situated directly below the Peak 2 Peak Gondola? I've ridden the gondola many times with tourists from all over the world and not a single one has even noticed the power project. Doesn't the design of the project have a lot to do with the aesthetic impact? Can't a community-controlled project dictate the design that meets our high aesthetic values?

Statement: Not green or clean energy at all.

Question: I would be quite proud to say that the Pemberton Valley offsets its energy consumption with the production of non-fossil fuel, non-nuclear, renewable power. If a community-owned and controlled run-of-river project is not "green" or "clean" then what is?

Statement: Public land and rivers should not be ruined for private profit.

Question: I agree that rivers should not be ruined. It seems, however, that the underlying concern is about the privatization of rivers. To my understanding, however, the power project licence is for use not ownership. Doesn't the river remain publicly owned? Isn't this similar to farmers or other industrial users that get licences to take water from creeks? Don't water licences typically expire in a set timeframe — for example 40 years? Finally, is it fair to say that a community-owned project is "privatization?" Wouldn't the profits go back into the community — for community benefit?

Statement: Protect our beautiful valley and wild rivers.

Question: What is a "wild" river? Are the rivers in the Pemberton Valley "wild?" Many, if not all of the rivers in the valley have been controlled to prevent flooding of farmland and prevent loss of property. This has had both positive and negative consequences. I would like to know what consequences a power project would have on the nature of the Pemberton Creek in particular. Each project and river is different — you need to go through the assessments to understand what negative impacts are and how they can be mitigated. I have heard that some projects like this actually have a net-positive impact on fisheries after mitigation/enhancement work is completed. Wouldn't a project that improves fish habitat and increases the salmon run be welcome?

Sheldon Tetreault

Pemberton

Mad Men for a good cause

A special thank-you to everyone who attended the "Mad Men" themed Highball Collective Launch Party on Saturday, April 13 at the Firerock Lounge. We raised over $1,700 for the Sarah Burke Foundation through donations and door prizes.

Thank-you to our generous donors Longhorn Saloon, Firerock Lounge, Scandinave Spa, Kaze Sushi, Four Seasons Whistler, Eminence Organic Skin Care, Meadow Park Sports Centre, Constellation Brands, Whistler Blackcomb, Oakley and Whistler Golf Club. Special thanks to the always fun, always fabulous Firerock Lounge staff.

Another rye and ginger Highball Collective si'l vous plaît!

Heather Odendaal

Whistler

Preserving our 'gem'

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," as the song goes... the old trail winds up above the Pemberton Creek... sun shining on the moss-covered rock and then the impressive waterfall appears through the woods... still the same feelings tho' its been a while since this "old timer" has been there.

It only took a little over half-an-hour to get there from the gate... plenty of time to sit on a log to contemplate the lovely surroundings ... lots of trails now in the area being enjoyed by hikers and bikers alike and we also ran into a local family with young kids... it's so close to home, just above the Village and no railroad tracks to cross either.

Come out to the meeting on April 25 (Pemberton Creek Water License and Community Power Project info Session at Signal Hill School at 7 p.m.) and make your views known if you want to preserve this "gem" for our future enjoyment...the power will still be there if we really need it in five or 10 years, or whatever.

Jan Naylor

Pemberton

Opposed to river diversion

I live in Pemberton, B.C. and oppose Creek Power Inc.'s proposed Upper Lillooet River diversion project. This joint venture between Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. and Ledcor involves building two hydroelectric facilities, including one at our iconic Key Hole Falls, and a 72-km transmission line along Pemberton Valley.

I was one of the 200 locals who attended the March 18 public meeting on river diversion projects, which was organized by local residents. Gwen Barlee, Policy Director of the Wilderness Committee, and Dr. Craig Orr, Executive Director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, provided detailed information about the environmental and financial impacts of river diversion projects.

Gwen Barlee highlighted the negative impacts these projects have on fish, wildlife and the often-pristine wilderness areas where these Independent Power Producers (IPPs) construct river diversion projects.

She mentioned the river diversion project on Kokish River, Vancouver Island, which was allowed to be built even though Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) biologists were opposed to the project because Kokish River is home to five species of wild salmon, two endangered runs of steelhead, cutthroat trout and eulachon.

Thanks to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Gwen Barlee discovered why the project was approved and I quote: "The process was rejected by all the scientists, marine biologists, forestry experts... as being an ecological disaster." The message presented to higher ups in the DFO had been massaged over and over, watering down the research showing the negative impacts on fish and their habitat, which enabled the project to be approved.

I think the same thing may have happened with Creek Power Inc.'s Upper Lillooet River Hydro project because government biologists reviewing this project as part of the environmental assessment process stated that the project's impacts on grizzly bears could not be "meaningfully mitigated." The provincial government has, however, issued a conditional environmental assessment certificate.

How can we as Canadians trust our municipal, provincial and federal governments when we know they often compromise the health of our public lands, forests and rivers for short-term economic gain? Why are taxpayers paying the salaries of government biologists whose expert opinions are ignored by their higher ups?

Do we live in a democracy or in a corporatocracy, which is an economic and political system controlled by corporations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation) or corporate interests benefiting only the one per cent sitting on the thrones?

I am against change for the WORST (destruction of our eco system) but not against change for the better.

Readers should also note that in addition to our environment, IPPs will ruin BC Hydro, a Crown corporation that used to provide millions of dollars to the public coffers and hence to B.C. residents. Thanks to Liberal government policy and legislation, BC Hydro is forced to buy power from IPPs at a higher rate than it can produce and sell power. BC Hydro has signed over $50 billion worth of electricity purchase agreements with IPPs, which means B.C. taxpayers are on the hook for this amount. IPPs are still greasing politicians' pockets to allow them to destroy our rivers and to bankrupt BC Hydro so that they can control the power and water. In addition to being unethical, BC Hydro has a ten-year energy surplus so there is no need to ruin our rivers and backcountry.

IPPs only offer us limited benefits in terms of very short-term construction jobs but the harmful impacts on our environment and wildlife will have long-term repercussions. Do we wait until it is too late and regret not having stood up against the project when I had the chance? Or do we stand up NOW as communities across B.C. to ensure our rivers and backyard is protected from corporate greed and political folly?

I believe we live in Canada, where the people have democratic rights where we can stand up for what we want. Let us unite and put an end to Creek Power Inc.'s Upper Lillooet River Hydro project and other river diversion projects. Yes to promoting green alternative renewable energy, such as solar, and educating the public about energy conservation.

No to "corporatocracy." Yes to intelligent democracy. Wake up Pemberton and B.C. residents; let our voices be heard before it is too late.

Marwan Abouhalka

Pemberton




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