The untapped market of snowmobiling
On behalf of the Powder Mountain Snowmobile and Outdoor Recreation Club, I am writing this letter in support of the Whistler RV Park's proposal to install new cabins for snowmobilers on the property.
Whistler has established itself as an all-season, world-class destination resort, offering a well-rounded experience throughout the year, with varied activities, dining options, shops, and accommodation. For the sake of a planned community, most of it is generally centred around the two spectacular mountains that started it all: Whistler and Blackcomb.
In case you might have missed it, however, Whistler is surrounded by equally stunning mountains that offer a different type of experience in the winter — the backcountry experience: no lift access, no lift lines, no proper runs, and definitely no safe, risk-managed terrain. This is where you will find the authentic mountain experience that most of us only dream about, and some of us are fortunate (and brave) enough to seek out.
The easiest way to independently access backcountry terrain is by snowmobile, and Whistler is home to three different snowmobiling areas: Cougar, Sproatt, and Brandywine. It's understandable why the snowmobiling community has been continually dismissed in the Sea to Sky, as we live in the shadow of snow sports' golden goose, the behemoth ski resort, but think about the following facts for a moment.
Snowmobiling itself is a rapidly growing sport in North America, starting off as a mode of transportation and blossoming into a recreational activity by the '80s.
According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Association, in 2015 alone, there were 150,713 snowmobiles sold worldwide; 58,299 were sold in the U.S. and 50,752 were sold in Canada.
There are 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S. and over 600,000 registered snowmobiles in Canada. The economic impact of snowmobiling is estimated to be $26 billion annually in the U.S. and $8 billion annually in Canada.
Whistler RV Park is thinking ahead of the times. Gordon Calder, the park's general manager, is attempting to diversify Whistler's accommodation options while appealing to an untapped target market. One of the largest issues we face in further attracting snowmobilers from other areas is that there is little to no snowmobile-friendly accommodation in Whistler.
Families and small groups often drive extra-large trailers that they currently have to haul back and forth from the village. Cabins at the Whistler RV Park would provide the convenience of the backcountry trails right at their doorstep; all the comforts of home within a wilderness experience and an ability to keep a close eye on their machine overnight.
Whistler (and the whole Sea to Sky corridor) has a monumental opportunity to take the first step in solidifying its place as a vibrant, diverse destination in the mountain snowmobile market by offering snowmobilers accommodation options that cater to them. Just as skiers and snowboarders want to stay close to the lifts, snowmobilers want to stay close to their play areas as well.
It's time the Resort Municipality of Whistler cut the red tape and truly looked at the potential of snowmobiling and its passionate community of riders. If any council members are interested in experiencing our trails firsthand, we would be happy to take them out for a ride to check it out.
Ryan Thorley, President, and Jodi Matsuoka, Operations and Communications Manager
Powder Mountain Snowmobile Club
As the supervisor at Whistler RV park, I am consistently getting calls from diverse user groups searching for the opportunity to stay with us in cabins.
These include writers looking for a place to create, couples unable to find a hotel on a busy night, backcountry users looking to stay close to the Brandywine trailhead, people looking for an alternative to village-style accommodation, and family friends of our regular RV guests who want to share a weekend getaway but don't have their own RV.
Cabins at Whistler RV park would increase the overall occupancy of this park, and the town as a whole. They would also encourage a new demographic to enjoy the Whistler experience.
By prohibiting cabins at Whistler RV park, I feel that Whistler is missing out on a clear and substantial benefit to the community.
RV Park cabins good idea
With regards to your article last week about rezoning of the Whistler RV Park (Pique, Feb. 4), I would just like to voice my opinion. It was mentioned that the Whistler RV Park would like to build cabins and I think that is a great idea.
Sled access from your front door is a true backcountry experience and something that is lacking in the Whistler area.
I know a lot of people from the Lower Mainland that would to take advantage of a service like this. Hope they make it happen.
Not another Pro-D Day
If you are a parent of a child in the public school system, it may seem that there are more and more "Pro-D Days" being added to the school calendar.
There were two non-instructional days added this fall in B.C. In School District 48, the dates are Jan. 29 and March 7. They are not professional development days, but rather "new curriculum implementation days."
Instead of teaching on those two days, teachers will be learning more about the new provincial curriculum for K-12 education. Educational partners, including Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) locally and provincially, knew that successful implementation of the new K-12 curriculum would demand a concerted effort by educators at all levels. All involved — PACs and many other organizations — advocated for time for teachers to do the implementation work, and the Minister ultimately obliged with two days.
But let's return to widespread concern, perhaps even unhappiness, about Pro-D Days. That stems in part from a long-standing misunderstanding, or simply a lack of awareness, about what Pro-D Days are, how they came to exist, for what purposes teachers use them, and what the results have been.
In 1972, professional development days were added to the school calendar at the request of teachers, with the agreement of the B.C. government. These Pro-D Days did not replace instructional days. Instead the school year was extended, without added compensation of any kind being requested or given. The intent of those five days volunteered by educators was then, and remains today, to provide time and opportunity to hone skills and improve our practices continually through each and every school year.
Since then, by all accepted national and international measures, B.C. has developed into one of the top-performing public education systems in the world. Annual, ongoing professional development has been a major contributor to that sustained growth. At no time has a Pro-D Day ever constituted a "holiday" for professional educators in B.C.
In recent years, the five Pro-D Days in the calendar are annually joined by a sixth day of professional learning which, like the recently added days, is mandated by the Ministry of Education and directed by B.C. School Districts.
Teachers volunteered five days annually for professional development more than 40 years ago, and the effects have been profoundly positive for all of B.C.'s public school students since that time. Any other "days off" are at the direction of the Ministry of Education within the confines of the School Act — and trust me, they are not "days off." Nor are Pro-D Days.
With profound change on the agenda, teachers are making a huge effort to ensure it all works positively for all of our students.
Sea to Sky Teachers' Association
Thank you from Whistler's Freestyler skiers
Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club would like to send a huge thank you to all the parent volunteers and sponsors who helped put on the Timber Tour and Super Youth Challenge Freestyle events Jan 28 to 30. Around 130 athletes aged eight to 17, from across the province competed in Moguls, Slopestyle and Big Air over three days.
Thanks to event suppliers: Nesters, Slopeside Supply, Starbucks, Clif Bar, Momentum Ski Camps and Whistler Brewing Company. Huge thanks to Chief of Competition Rick Schwinghammer, as well as to Sandra Haziza, Julia Smart and Mitch Forster for organizing a great team of volunteers, the comp office and awards ceremonies.
Also a big shout-out to Cate Webster, Seb Fremont and their crew from the Whistler Blackcomb Events team who ensured the park events went off without a hitch. Also to Mick Gannon, Daniel Bosco and Kirk Leslie for all their help getting the course set up and gear up and down the mountain!
The club's "Appies and Awards" fundraiser at Buffalo Bills on Saturday night was a resounding success. Huge thanks to all the people who donated silent auction items and to Laurie Low, Catherine Power-Chartrand and Mitch Forster for making it all happen.
Lastly, a big thanks to the amazing and enthusiastic Whistler skiers and their coaches — the Whistler Freestylers and the WBFSC competitors — our skiers hauled in 68 medals across all the different age groups!
WBFSC Club President
Harper by any other name...
The logical fallacy of equating popular support for "Liberal party" and "Conservative Party" is long dead (Silvia Tindall "letter to the editor," Pique, Feb. 4).
The Conservatives have always had, currently maintain and always will have a lock on about 30 per cent of the vote. That is the "Conservative base," which is predominantly authoritarian personalities found to be roughly 20 per cent of any society worldwide.
That 20 per cent is capable of leveraging another 10 per cent or so by the smoke and mirrors of tribal loyalty and the politics of fear. The rest of us (70 per cent) are much more egalitarian but have been prone to splitting our vote between Liberal, Green and NDP — fortunately, not recently.
As for "worst PM ever," one absolutely must ignore certain things Harper did in order to take offence at this statement. One is his well-substantiated contempt for the imperative for policy to be informed by the best expertise and knowledge.
Most obvious is Harper's denial (overt or indirect) of anthropogenic global warming. There is much other evidence for his contempt for expertise and evidence found in his policies with penal justice, constitutional law, drug addiction, his deliberate eviceration of federal science research, throttling the communication stream to the public or pinning economic growth to a single low-grade resource commodity with a lousy future.
More insidious, he really couldn't have been so effective in the above without subverting democratic process, especially the supression of effective parliamentary process and deliberately gutting the most important element of democracy — an informed electorate. This is more than satisfactory grounds to tar and feather him as "the worst Prime Minister ever."
Are you really suggesting that we should not only ignore his still very relevant reign of damage, but also now bury it all under the rug?
But getting back to the "30 per cent" canard of legitimacy. Remember who this 30 per cent is mostly comprised of and the political ethic of that group.
All of the above noted subversions are not just tolerated, they are welcomed as an entitlement by the Conservative base. In order to be trusted by the vast middle, the Conservative Party needs to reject this ethic, or what should be better framed as a "lack of ethics."
Do yourself a favour, as Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark have done, and recognize Harper for what he is. Incidentally, no one should ever forget Rona Abrose's equally subversive efforts as Environment Minister at Kyoto, or her ideological righteousness regarding her government's attempts to destroy the Insight drug treatment program. Nor should we forget Peter MacKay's deliberate efforts to undermine constitutional law or Joe Oliver's insinuations about half of all Canadians being eco-terrorists.
These people are all authoritarian personalities, despite the cute kitty cats. Only if a person is truly delusional does lipstick ever work on a pig.
Furthermore, if you really think that journalists should subscribe to an ethic of, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything" then I will go out on a limb and suggest you will fit just nicely with the Conservative base... certainly in terms of journalistic ethics and any degree of respect for an informed electorate.
Please pass the salt
Maybe I have an asinine opinion of the dangers of added salt to inanimate objects like highways and sidewalks, so forgive me if I offend your delicate palate, but where in the world is all the salt in this town?
When I drive from Pemberton to Whistler to grab a burger and fries and have some Starbucks from time to time, I might as well be driving on an ice rink that is covered in little rocks that keep busting my window up when other cars kick them up at me while they are driving 50 km/h in the 90 km/h on a Sunday.
And then, once I get to Whistler, I can barely trek through all the snow on the side walks where there are more of these little rocks or maybe just a sprinkle of salt here or there.
Honestly, what is up with that?
Would it kill the trees or bears to put a little salt down?
I know it is killing the people driving on this highway by not putting salt down, and these little rocks, or whatever, that are on the ground that are not salt is killing my brakes every year.
Maybe I won't come to Whistler anymore, but that would mean I would have to remain in Pemberton, so that doesn't sound very good either.
I saw a movie once where Gandhi went to the ocean and made salt, so maybe I will go over to Squamish and grab some and throw it on this highway.
It sounds absurd, I realize that, but if it takes sounding absurd in public to save a life, or someone from a broken leg near the burger joint, then I guess I'm that guy now.
A Winterfest to remember
I wish to thank the volunteers, sponsors and community partners of Pemberton Winterfest 2016 — they are truly amazing!
We all came together to host a fun, two-day family friendly event in celebration of winter at the downtown barn and at One Mile Lake. Their help and support made this year's Winterfest a great success. We could not have done it without them.
So, here's to our volunteers — thank you for your resilience, energy and hard work — Kirk Becker, Rob Szachury, Shirley Henry, Daniel Cindric, James Linklater, Rob Meilleur, Tony Medd, Rob Pidgeon, Pat MacKenzie, Phill Read, Anne Crowley, Heather Wunder, Sue Linklater, Dave Den Duyf, Linda Den Duyf, Sharon Medd & the Treks, Vince Moule, Lesley Clark, Brad Knowles, and Grizzly Robinson.
And a huge thank you for the financial support from BC Hydro, Village of Pemberton, Squamish Lillooet Regional District, Innergex, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Scotiabank, Huka Productions, the Pemberton Music Festival Community Fund, CRT-ebc, Blackcomb Aviation, AC Gas, Rotary Club of Pemberton, Arid Irrigation & Landscaping, and West Park Electric.
Thank you also to our esteemed community partners for their unwavering support: Pemberton Fire Rescue Service, Pemberton District Search & Rescue, Mainroad Contracting, Pemberton Ambulance, Village of Pemberton Public Works, Sabre Rentals, U-Haul, Event Rental Works, XL Audio Visual, High & Dry Storage, Continental Pole, Big Sky Golf, Dave Steers Photography, Danielle Menzel Tait, Island Pharmacy, Training Innovations, Sharon's Herbal Healing & Fine Arts, Pemberton Valley Lodge, RONA, Pemberton Community Centre, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 201, Pemberton Lions Club, Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce, Turbo Plumbing, and Pocketful Productions.
We look forward to another great event in 2017!