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

Working together to put the 'gold' back into the river

In response to one of last week's Letters to the Editor entitled "River of Broken Dreams" (Pique July 19, 2012), we would like to remind the writer that the river does belong to someone.

It belongs to the otters, beavers, ducks and diverse species of marsh and river plants, to name a few.

We, too, live here and were disappointed and saddened this week to see the river so full of beer cans, plastic bags, and deserted blow-up boats. We watched as irresponsible drunk boaters broke branches to haul themselves out of the water after having flipped and let escape yellow paddles and rubber shoes.

The garbage is an issue. Most of us who use the river regularly enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility.

On the portage trail two canoes full of booze blocked our way as their owners had decided to stop for cigarettes and munchies. The peacefulness disappeared at the railway bridge where we bore witness to a dozen young men heckling from the railroad tracks using profanities we cannot obviously put to print. Minutes later we were asked to flash our titties by an overzealous skipper who was rafted up to 15 other bright orange boats in the marsh, recently christened Beer Bay, a habitat for nesting birds and small fish.

Both of us work with the youth of this town and have a sense of humour, but we don't know about the next unsuspecting gals floating by.

We think the police know perfectly well who and what they are protecting.

If each of us uses common sense, there's no doubt we can all continue to enjoy the wonders of the River of Golden Dreams.

However, until frequenters of our lovely winding river learn to respect the flora and fauna by keeping it clean, reduce their drinking to a minimum and be sensitive to their loud use of foul language, we say let the tickets flow!

Shelley Ledingham and Laura Nedelak


River of Broken Dreams Part II

The other day I was walking my dog at Meadow Park and noticed a group of extremely intoxicated people walking away from the river, and the pile of rubbish they were leaving on the ground consisting of empty beer cans and deflated orange plastic boats.

I asked one of the ones who seemed semi-coherent who he thought was going to clean up their mess to which he replied with a barrage of slurred verbal threats of bodily harm if I didn't STFU.

I quickly decided to just walk away rather than receive a beat down by a gang of meathead kangaroos. The sad part of this was that it happened in broad daylight, in front of children playing at the park.

Another good reason for not being allowed to drink on the river is that one of these days somebody is going to drown. I've already heard stories of drunkards being fished out of near-drowning situations by good people who live within earshot of the river.

The same people who endure loud, abusive language and lewd behavior from the river in their backyard.

I would like to remind Mr. Fleet (Pique letters July 19, 2012) that while being drunk and belligerent in public may fly in his native country, it is socially unacceptable here in Canada.

It is particularly so in a resort community like Whistler.

There is a good reason that drinking and being intoxicated in public is against the law. One has to look no further than the empty beer cans and trash floating along on a sunny day down the River of Golden Dreams.

The folks who want to just relax with a friendly adult beverage at the lake after a long day of work can thank the idiots who litter our pristine environment with their beer cans, cigarette butts and orange plastic boats for not being allowed to do so.

Tom Landers


Only yourself to blame

I've never written a letter to the editor, but recent comments by a certain Jonny Fleet need a rebuttal (Pique July 19, 2012).

Firstly I'd like to say that I too really enjoy floating down the river or hanging out at my favourite beach and having a cold one on a hot day. Unfortunately that's illegal in this province and do you know why that is Jonny? Because some people can't have a cold one, they need to turn into, as you put it, "30 drunken Aussies" and draw attention to themselves.

So if you got a ticket for drinking in public well that's too bad, deal with it. You have no one to blame but yourselves for ruining it for everyone else!

Also, I'd like to remind you that those tourists you upset pay the bills in this town so we kind of like to keep them happy.

Tim Rempel


Get out early

As a regular road cyclist for over 40 years who employs every possible strategy to avoid traffic, my initial reaction to the Whistler GranFondo was "brilliant, people can enjoy riding Highway 99 for a whole day without dealing with any cars or trucks!"

As an environmentalist who has long championed cycling as an alternative to driving, I hoped the GranFondo would be effective "recruitment to the cause."

Indeed there seems to have been a veritable explosion in the number of road cyclists in the Sea to Sky corridor over these past three summers. But where are they? On Highway 99, sharing the road with thousands of speeding cars, buses and trucks!

I'm dumbfounded. I've cycled in 55 countries on six continents but I almost never pedal in such heavy, high-speed traffic. The standard that I like to maintain is less than four motorized overtakes/minute, easily achieved if you heed the advice that follows.

If you insist on riding the 99, get out early — 6 a.m. on weekends. Without paying a registration fee you'll have the highway to yourself! No heat, no wind, no traffic. With a rearview mirror attached to your helmet, you can spend most of the time in the middle of the road, far from the shoulder debris that can cause punctures or worse. Obviously you'll move over when you spot the odd vehicle approaching in the mirror.

When you get to Pemberton or Squamish you are off the 99 before 8 a.m. because rather than immediately turning around to get back home you can take advantage of the quiet side roads these two communities offer, and then hop on the Greyhound bus to return to Whistler!

It's the only coach line in North America that does not require boxes for bikes!

Any other time of the week, forget the 99 and enjoy the hundreds of kilometres of quiet paved roads and trails that we have here in Whistler Valley. You'd be surprised at the variety. For the past 16 years I have made a point every year of pedalling every metre of asphalt from Black Tusk to Emerald Estates, even including all three Golf Courses' cart paths (outside of golf season of course!).

The Bobsled track access roads are a particular challenge! I call it "Le Tour de Whistler" and it gets longer every year! To complete it just once now constitutes the rough equivalence, in both distance and in vertical metres, of riding from Whistler to Burnaby return twice!

And finally, it's easy to forget in this era of BMX, downhill bike parks and carbon-frame road-racing machines that the bicycle is not just a toy, but also a healthy, safe and environmentally friendly form of transport.

Leave the car at home and ride to work, ride for groceries and pull the kids in a trailer. Combine utility with physical activity and you won't need to spend nearly as much time riding the 99 to prepare for the next GranFondo! 

Thomas DeMarco


Canine encounter cause for concern

I have been persuaded to write you, and give you an account of an incident I had at the Alpha Lake dog park on Friday, July 20.

Whether you deem this worthy of printing as a warning to others is up to you, but my conscience would take a beating if something more serious was to happen to someone else.

At about 10 a.m., I was at the park with my retriever-cross, when a woman arrived with a grey and white pitbull, and a mostly white shepherd-cross. We kept to ourselves, but inevitably the dogs got in closer proximity as mine emerged from the lake.

Suddenly the pitbull left its owner and attacked my dog. Having never experienced such a situation, at first I figured it would be the usual flash of teeth, some growls, and we would be back on our way. The pitbull, however, kept charging and grasping my dog as she tried to cower and retreat. The owner tried to call off her dog, but each time she came in close, the shepherd, which was still on a leash, joined the attack. After a brief melee, I was able to grab both her dogs by the backs of their necks and calm the situation.

The owner apologized profusely, and commented that the dog was a rescue dog, which I guess somehow justified its actions to her.

Perhaps it would have been nice to know this beforehand, but I would think if the dog has issues, it would be leashed and even muzzled, and not running freely at a park.

Having just been in the lake, and then dragged through the mud, my dog was a shaking mess. I couldn't see any damage, but after getting her cleaned off, the blood started to appear. She had four bite wounds around her neck, head and shoulders. A trip to the vet resulted in stitches, antibiotics and a request from them to file a report with animal control. Apparently the vet has had three other cases of dogs being attacked by a white pitbull in the last two weeks, and the worry is that it may be the same dog.

So if people can be warned, and are able to avoid these two dogs if they see them, it may save someone the same experience or worse. The owner cannot control them.

I know that if my wife had been there, she wouldn't have been able to stop the attack, and I don't want to think of the possibilities if my three- and five-year-olds had come along, as they often do.

Joel Watson

West Vancouver

Sounds worth listening to

Lately there seems to be quite a few people writing in to the local papers complaining about the "abundance" of noise that the Olympic Plaza concerts are apparently causing.

Honestly, if your biggest issue right now is a little bit of enjoyable music playing past your 9 p.m. bedtime then I think you're doing pretty well.

The concerts are put on to entertain both tourists and members of the community and bring everyone together to enjoy a night of free entertainment.

Unfortunately, yes this may mean you have to listen to the tasteful sounds of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra or an up-and-coming new artist past sundown. Or that you can't put your children to bed on time, but really what's wrong with exposing them to what the community has to offer during the summer months here, even if it means staying up a little late?

Whistler is not your typical town in so many ways, one of them being that we are privileged to draw people here from all over the world, so why not take the opportunity to enhance their experience with a free local concert showcasing some of our great talent?

Now you say these concerts bring in the drunks, since they are free and this is the only thing they can afford to do. If your issue is with people being drunk and rowdy then call the RCMP. That is after all what they are here for, and from my experiences with them they are usually pretty quick to respond to complaints/calls.

If you feel that people being intoxicated is the reason you are so upset then address that as the issue, don't take it out on the free concerts that so many of us enjoy every weekend.

On another point, the Village/Olympic plaza area is in the heart of Whistler. Events, concerts, festivals, and yes noise all take place here as they would similarly in the downtown of any major city. Generally if you do not want noise living in a city you live in the suburbs or outskirts of town where the main "hub" is not located. Same thing applies here.

If you wish to have a very quiet weekend away from the festivities, tourists, and concerts that Whistler draws then it may be in your best interest to relocate to another area away from the village.

We live in Whistler yearlong for its outdoor activities, scenic mountains, and the constant excitement of the next event to happen in town. Let's keep it this way.

Amanda Young


Seen, but not heard

I was so excited to have the opportunity to see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in the village this past weekend. Little did I know that was mainly what I would do... see them and not hear them!

Friday night we were lucky enough to have a friend's condo overlooking the plaza. From the balcony at this very close location we didn't really hear much of anything for the whole concert.

So Saturday we took our chairs to the grassy area to really enjoy the show. We arrived a bit late and when walking over from Main Street we wondered if the concert had started yet because we couldn't hear any music.

Coming around the corner we were surprised to see the enormous and fabulous VSO playing, but at such low volume it took away the magic and majesty of the music.

We ended up seated near two people who were chatting quietly between them and I found myself unnecessarily irritated because I could hear their voices more clearly than the music.

I have been to most of the concerts at Olympic Plaza and have been blown away by the amazing entertainment offered in one of the most beautiful venues in the world. Please do not let a few complainers ruin this experience.

I would like to personally supply a box of earplugs to each person who complains about these amazing musical opportunities, keeping them up until the late hour of 10 or sometimes even 11 p.m.

Do not let the few naysayers ruin this amazing legacy that we have in Whistler and please turn up the volume!

Catherine Power-Chartrand


Too late for free classical concerts

Apparently the day where everyone understood respect for a performer and courtesy to their fellow audience members has passed (if it ever existed).

Saturday's performance by the VSO in Olympic Plaza would have been fantastic if not marred by a disturbing percentage of the audience treating the performance more like background music than the main attraction.

I moved three times in search of an area inhabited by fellow appreciators of a good symphony before I gave up.

Chit chat was everywhere. If this concert were held in Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre, I would guess at least 10 per cent of the audience would have been asked to leave.

If an orchestra offers a free concert in Whistler again, I don't think I will be attending. A ticketed event with attendees who appreciate what they are paying for (I hope)... I'll be there.

I will credit the VSO and the organizers with a job well done. The acoustics were surprisingly satisfying, the setting was wonderful, and of course the orchestra put on a lovely performance. Shame about the audience...

Jonathan Knopp


Be kind to each other

I feel compelled to write this letter as I have recently moved to Whistler and have noticed some traits that seem to be rife here which I would not have expected from such a paradise.

Then I began to wonder if people are aware of the way they are treating each other, or if it's a product of this "new society" where everyone is feeling so empowered that they forget we are still living together as a larger community.

Let me explain — I work in the hospitality industry as many of us do and I enjoy it, so let's for a minute believe I'm qualified to talk to people in a multitude of challenging situations.

So please, when you are carrying yourself around the town or the many backcountry trails remember we share this space with everyone. Far too often I am running into this sense of righteous indignation that seems to prevail here.

Granted, on the whole, the people of Whistler are kind, caring and community minded. This was something I saw during the municipal elections, as far as the mayor being elected in part by the repealing of the paid parking in lots 4 and 5.

But back to the original point — when you feel strongly enough to interfere with someone else's enjoyment of this wonderful place please take a moment to choose your words carefully and above all be nice when you need to make a point. That person you are talking to may not understand all the rules that we use to manage the use of this little slice of heaven, but opening phrases such as, "you wouldn't dare walk through here" and "aren't you going to pick that up" or "where are YOU from, cause in Whistler, blah,blah,blah."

You get the point.

So I just wish to remind everyone that a little kindness can still get the point across and doesn't need to impact someone else's day with such hostility in such a beautiful place.

Douglas Hanson