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Letters to the Editor for the week of Jan 26th, 2012

A Scary Wake Up Call!

My eyes were heavy. I was thinking about the great day I was going to have on the hill. BANG! I wake up but I'm not in my bed! I'm behind the wheel of my car! I had fallen asleep at the wheel and hit a concrete barrier on the Sea to Sky Highway!

I want to apologize to everyone for being an incredibly irresponsible person for not pulling over and taking a nap (which I've done in the past) when the warning signs were there, which could have changed the outcome of my trip to Whistler that day.

I got off with a slap on the wrist and a car that was a write-off. What if I'd gone off an embankment, hit a rock wall or worse, hurt or killed someone in another vehicle! Could you live with yourself knowing you'd caused harm to someone because you didn't do the responsible thing and pull over and rest? I couldn't.

By sharing my story I hope to avoid other potential accidents on the roads that can be prevented if we heed the warning signs, and do the right thing and pull over. It's not worth the risk. When your body is tired it will shut down no matter how much caffeine or energy drinks you put into it, or how many times you wind down the window — and who knows what the outcome will be when you open your eyes or not — if you're dead! Many of us have taken the risk and been lucky. Next time please do the right thing and don't take that chance. It's not worth it!

Luke Brandon, one lucky guy who's been given a second chance!


Swap out the sleds for X Fest?

Bringing the X-Games to Whistler looks like a great fit for both our town and for the X-Games. It is a good way to capitalize on our Olympic effort and success, and fits in with what feedback most of us have heard on the OCP and Tourism Whistler efforts.

There seems to be within the proposal, however, a conundrum that will need some creative effort. The X-Games has included a snowmobile competition. In the hundreds of man hours of community consultative effort in setting up the Whistler Olympic Park, and the many months of discussion over motorized and non motorized recreation which proceeded them it was firmly established that the WOP would be in the Section 58 non motorized lands of the Callaghan Valley. The section 58 restriction would not allow any of the snowmobile events proposed, and there is nothing in the WOP lease that would allow that aspect of the games to be held there.

I think it is also true that there is very little support that would convince the Ministry of Lands and Forests to change that, and certainly there is little in competitive sled raiding that is consistent with the "Whistler Way."

But the Whistler name allows us to "punch above our weight." Maybe, just maybe those parties involved from our end could convince ESPN that the promotion of motorized snowmobiling is not in the interests of anyone promoting winter sports, and the "sport" is extreme only in its acceleration of climate change. As a substitute we might remind ESPN that we have already had some awesome randonnee competitions around the Spearhead. That would be an extreme sport very consistent with Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb.

Al Whitney


Taking advantage of the potential

I would like to pose a question to all of those in leadership roles throughout the region. Why constantly search for the "the next big thing," when one hasn't fully explored taking advantage of the potential of the last big thing?

Paul Shore


Roundtable group keeping an eye on salmon

I wanted to give a bit more perspective on the "Letters to the Editor" written by Dorte Froslev and Julie Malcolm in last week's Pique (Jan.19, 2012).

First I thought I should share a little more information and history on the Fisheries Roundtable Group that MP John Weston started with a number of concerned local citizens and groups.

In August of 2009 our local Squamish to Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee wrote MP Weston expressing our concerns about the extremely low returns of Fraser River sockeye salmon. After receiving our letter, Mr. Weston suggested that a meeting be held with everyone concerned about the situation.

At our first meeting, we had participants from Squamish and West Vancouver Streamkeepers, Squamish Nation, local fishing guides, SFAC participants, Watershed Watch, North Vancouver Outdoors School and concerned local citizens. Mr. Weston listened carefully to our concerns and asked several questions. He carried our concerns forward to Ottawa and after the meeting suggested that we meet again that fall and coined the name "Fisheries Roundtable Group."

At our second meeting Mr. Weston gave us an update on the situation and the group made the decision to continue to meet and address concerns, not only over Fraser sockeye salmon, but other issues impacting our local salmon returns.

Some of the highlights and the results from our Fisheries Roundtable meetings are:

• Mr. Weston asked the Prime Minister in the House of Commons to call an inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye returns of 2009. This led the Prime Minister to call the inquiry, which is still underway and called the Cohen Inquiry.

• The federal fisheries minister has visited our riding and met with our group on three different occasions.

• Completion of the Mashiter Channel Salmon Observation Platform, a catalyst for community education, outreach and understanding of the salmon resource.

• Bringing the House of Commons Fisheries Standing Committee to our riding in November 2010. This was the first time in 12 years. This visit was an opportunity for Parliamentarians to be more familiar with salmon aquaculture and potential impacts on wild salmon and how these could be reduced or eliminated.

• An opportunity for myself, as a representative of the Fisheries Roundtable to testify before the House of Commons Fisheries Standing Committee at hearings in Campbell River in November 2010, where I advocated for the salmon farming industry to move to close containment salmon farms to protect Wild Salmon.

• A meeting in our riding to discuss allocation of halibut for both sportfisherman and commercial fisherman attended by over 200 community members.

• Work to identify and fund habitat projects on Squamish River.

As you can see, both the participants in the Fisheries Roundtable and our MP, John Weston, have been working very hard on fisheries issues.

To conclude, I wanted to share a few thoughts on our most recent meeting with the Federal Fisheries Minister Ashfield.

There was an opportunity for media to meet Minister Ashfield prior to our roundtable meeting. We have always had a policy of not having media inside our roundtable meetings. This insures that everyone is given the opportunity for open discussion. Minister Ashfield is new to his portfolio and this was his first visit to our riding. Prior to the question and answer period at the Squamish Adventure Centre, he was taken on a tour of the North Vancouver Outdoors School, where he viewed proposed salmon habitat work at the North Vancouver Outdoors School.

At the question and answer session the minister listened carefully to all questions asked, had staff member taking notes and Mr. Weston has indicated that he will be holding a follow up roundtable meeting to update the group on the results of the minister's visit. The minister indicated that he intends to take the results of the Cohen Inquiry very seriously. He will make decisions on future salmon management after reviewing the findings, which are expected to be released this summer.

When asked about funding for our proposed habitat project at the North Vancouver Outdoors School, Minister Ashfield mentioned he could not give us an answer until February, when the upcoming budget is drawn. But now, he (Minister Ashfield) definitely has a greater understanding of the proposed project. Our Fisheries Roundtable Group is hopeful that we will receive a positive update of funding for the project in the coming months.

I would like to extend an invitation for those who are concerned about local salmon to contact MP Weston and learn more about participating in our Fisheries Roundtable.

Dave Brown


Plastic Bags Get an Unfair Rap

While I find it encouraging to hear from people concerned about the environmental impact of activities going on around them, I ask that they please not be so quick to judge individuals who use plastic shopping bags. Though far from perfect, I always try to be conscious about conserving resources and minimizing any damage that results from my day-to-day choices, and once carried around reusable bags myself. Upon further reflection I came to the conclusion that I ultimately would have less detrimental impact by accepting and reusing biodegradable plastic bags, and I would find it rather unfair and frustrating to be banned from doing so.

Instead of purchasing garbage bags at a store (most of which are not biodegradable), I simply use grocery bags in my garbage bins. Combined with recycling and composting I find the amount of waste corresponds quite well to the number of bags I collect, and it conserves all the energy and materials that would have gone into producing, packaging and shipping garbage bags I would have otherwise had to buy. There are a number of problems associated with reusable bags (, most notably the fact that people tend to forget to carry them and end up purchasing more than they need...and you can guess where the extra bags end up.

I really feel there is an overemphasis on banning plastic bags as a way to greenwash Whistler and a corresponding lack of attention to other critical issues in our journey to becoming sustainable. Enforcement of idling bylaws, for example, would be another way to show off our concern for the environment, and improving air quality has an even more direct impact on life in Whistler than landfill issues do. But if overflowing landfills and wasted energy are really your cause, then a quick glance at the garbage bins around the village show quite clearly that a campaign to ban disposable coffee cups would be infinitely more effective.

Erin Iwaniuk


Lost Lake Trails Grooming

At a Whistler Nordics meeting recently, there was discussion about the quality of grooming on the Lost Lake trails by the municipality.

We would like to express our appreciation on the quality of the grooming on the trails this past month with the difficult weather conditions and snow level. The trails have been just excellent to ski on. We think Eric Crowe and crew have done a remarkable job.

We continue to urge users not to poach on the trails. We receive this quality of maintenance and grooming from the municipality because it is a user pay system. If people do not pay, we risk losing this level of service.

In addition, we do appreciate that the Nicklaus North trails continue to be groomed.

Once again, thank you for the great trails!

Tom Barratt, President, Whistler Nordics Cross Country Ski Club


Transparency and fairness

Chris Quinlan asks us what Brad Sills's motivations might be for questioning the performance of Whistler Sport Legacies, and then goes on to describe the glory of sports. I believe that Mr. Sills's motivations are found in two of the very principles of sport that Mr. Quinlan celebrates — that of transparency and fairness.

Sport is as transparent as it gets — it happens in real time, right before our eyes, either live or via television. We can all judge the performance of the athletes. The problem that Mr. Sills has with the WSL is that everything happens behind closed doors.

As Mr. Quinlan states, the WSL has a very important role to play in our community, yet no one is able to see if they are doing a good job of managing their mandate. The external evidence of cost overruns suggest they are not, but we need to know more before we can fairly assess them.

The principle of fairness is central to sport, and it is central to the role of the WSL in the Callaghan Valley.

The Olympic organizers made agreements with Mr. Sills prior to the bid, and prior to the Games, in exchange for him giving up rights, which he had secured in the valley for the previous 20 years. They also relied upon his knowledge and expertise in the area to develop the Olympic facilities in the best way possible. Now the WSL appears to be operating with no regard for those agreements — hardly fair.

I would encourage Mr. Quinlan to apply the principles that he loves about sport to the WSL, so that it can become the organization that our community deserves.

Len Chaston


Standing by decisions

It is perfectly apropos that Brad Sills should lash out against my letter that not only supports the initiatives of the Whistler Sport Legacies, but also provided some facts about the role of WSL, through yet another "Letter to the Editor" (Pique Jan 12, 2012). The irony is that he once again used this format in an attempt to further "muddy the waters" on an issue that I was providing clarity (facts) on by launching a personal attack against my previous role as a municipal councillor. In doing this he did open up an issue that cries for some good old-fashioned debate. That is the role that "Letters to the Editor" and opinion columnists play in the public's perception of facts.

Let's first look at Mr. Sills's cry for accountability of "a poorly performing management regime that reports only to itself." I wonder how it is that he has come to measure the performance of the organization in question when it is just now in the process of finalizing its first annual report. It reports to a board of directors made up of stakeholders, including all three levels of government and the sports organizations that it supports. The WSL is not a body of public officials, as much as Mr. Sills would like to have the public believe otherwise.

The RMOW plays no role in the oversight of the WSL operations beyond its representative on the board of directors, nor should it. The potential for myopic, localized, decision making negatively impacting the success of the mandate of WSL is far too real. The area Mr. Sills is actually lobbying for municipal interference in is outside of our municipal boundaries. His attempt to drag the RMOW into his quarrel by questionning the non-profit status tax exemptions of the organization is puerile at best. It is the same tactic he used to try to drag the Chamber of Commerce into his pre-Olympic negotiations with VANOC. The answer is the same now as it rightfully was then. It's no more the jurisdiction of the RMOW now, than it was the mandate of the Chamber back then.

On the role of "Letters to the Editor" and opinion columnists. In my experience, the opinions of columnists are far too often taken as reported facts. The best example was Max's column re: the sliding centre and the comments posted on it hailing him as the one who "knows the truth". As to the letters, if you throw enough crap against the wall, even the slimiest of it will stick. If you say something enough times, people will believe it is a fact. The fact that an opinion written in a letter, or opinion column does not have to stand up to any test of integrity, as long as it does not slander someone, simply because it is "an opinion," is reason enough to demand a reader treat it with ample caution regarding its factuality.

I asked a frequent contributor if he was now subject to the rigors of fact re: libel and slander that a real reporter is when "reporting in his online publication." He then proceeded to write online that I had threatened him with libel. Blogs and online publications cause a host of frustrations for legitimate publications when they cross the line from opinion to reporting because they do not seem to be subject to any journalistic ethics, yet are perceived as fact based mediums.

(My) final comment on transparency and accountability (is this) — I bleed transparency and accountability... Every conversation I ever had while in office was fully in the public eye, unless prohibited by law. Every comment, every decision I made was subject to the scrutiny of the law, and of every living being who cared to make comment. At the end of the day I stand by my decisions and accept the ultimate accountability that the election process provides us. I doubt your motivations and comments regarding WSL could stand to the same test.

Christopher Quinlan