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Letters to the editor for the week of May 9th

GoPro search continues Editor's note: In February of this year Matt Lorraway and his partner Rebecca Ware were visiting Whistler when they lost their GoPro camera — normally not a newsworthy event.

GoPro search continues

Editor's note: In February of this year Matt Lorraway and his partner Rebecca Ware were visiting Whistler when they lost their GoPro camera — normally not a newsworthy event. But the night they arrived back in Australia from their Whistler vacation Ware was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with leukemia. She died five days later from complications. The author of this letter, Amy McArthur, wrote at that time in the hopes someone might have found the lost camera — she hoped that it could be returned as it had the last pictures of the couple on it. The hunt for the camera continues.

Thanks to everyone who has helped get this story out...We haven't had any luck with finding the camera... we did have a false alarm but that just reassures me that there are truly beautiful people out there and that the word is out!

There is a camera hunt event on Facebook by Daniel Grandja ( who has organized it on his own accord, which is amazing in itself as he is total stranger, but now a friend with a heart of gold... (and as we can't be there to search for it). It is to be held in July (in Whistler).

A massive, massive thanks to CWA and Coast Mountain Photography for the professional photos of Matty and Bec — they are breathtaking and another memory for Matty and the Ware family to hold onto.

Rebecca's family and friends also entered into this years World's Greatest Shave for Leukemia and Warey's Warriors raised over $40,000 in honour of Bec.

Please, please don't forget about us, as we haven't forgotten everyone's hard efforts to reunite Matty with his memories...

Amy McArthur

Walkerston, Australia

The Point says thanks

Thanks to everyone who helped make The Point Artist-Run Centre's annual fundraiser at Creekbread such a great success. To the musicians who kept the tunes rolling out all night long: The K-Band, Susan Holden, Jono Reichardt, Michael Faiella, Sean Rose, Peter Vogler, Lauri Lyster, Simon Stribling, Scott Mitchell, Aude Ray, Rajan Das and more.

To the painters Christina Nick, Lisa Geddes and Vincent Massey who worked on three canvases while guest painters, ranging from three-year-olds to seniors had the opportunity to put brush to canvas.

To the artists, artisans and local businesses who generously donated items for the silent auction: Affinity Sports, Alpine Esthetics, Armchair Books, Ascent Wellness, Bounce Trampoline, Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Escape Route, Home Hardware, Hoppin' Mad (jazz band), Lisa Geddes, Leslie Anthony, Michael Faiella Hair, Nibz, Nita Lake Lodge, Oracle, Peak Performance, Prior Skis, Purebread, Shannon Berrow, SMD Automotive, Starbucks Coffee, Sugar Mama Pastries, Tadasana Yoga Studio, The Brewhouse, Vincent Massey Pottery, Wedgeview Plumbing & Heating, Whistler Alterations, Whistler Arts Council, Whistler Brewing Company, Whistler Film Festival, White Dog Studio and Ziptrek Ecotours.

Thanks also to The Point's Board of Directors and volunteers who made it all happen, to Creekbread for hosting and donating part of their proceeds, and to so many in the community who showed up and made it a great evening.

We also presented the winners of the 2013 Alta Lake Ice-Break Raffle. This year the barrel floated past The Point at 7:27 p.m. on April 2. Congratulations to Tyler Massey, this year's winner, Kristy La Mantia, and Allison Schneider. The wonderful prizes were donated by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Scandinave Spa, and Backroads Whistler.

The funds raised will go a long way toward another summer of events at The Point on Alta Lake including children's and adult's workshops in a variety of arts, Saturdays at The Point open houses, our new Works-in-Progress performance series, and the Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival, August 16-17.

We look forward to seeing you at the lake!

Stephen Vogler

The Point Artist-Run Centre Society

Go green, go

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to all of our hard working friends in the municipality who are bringing to life our parks, and all that is green! Much appreciated!

Scott Rogers


A child's trust is lost forever

To the person or persons who broke into our hotel room at the Coast Blackcomb hotel on Saturday night, May 4 I want you to realize what you really stole.

You got our iPhones, you got our GoPro camera, and cash from my wallet but what you really stole was the feeling of safety for our children.

Whistler has always been our family's happy place. A place to escape from all the stresses we face in our day-to-day lives.

We had been counting down the days to "fire" my oncologist only to discover we will need him again for their last remaining grandparent to be treated pain-free for her last remaining time with us.

This weekend was a chance for us to regroup, breathe, recharge and be ready for what lies ahead. Now precious time and expenses will be used to replace our stolen items. Things we can't afford.

But more than that, our children no longer want to visit Whistler.

They no longer want to ski.

To them Whistler will always be a place of heartache, not a place to heal.

I hope it was worth it to you.  

Lindsay Dawkins

North Vancouver

Vote for education

On behalf of students, B.C.'s teachers are once again exercising their democratic rights to ensure that public education is a key issue during the campaign and that voters are fully informed of the current government's dismal record when they cast their ballots on May 14th.

Despite Christy Clark and her Liberal candidates' mantra of "highest funding ever" (which is simply a result of inflation and not real increases in funding), B.C. is in last place by almost every indicator used to measure our system.

Per student funding is almost $1,000 below the national average, total expenditures per student rank last among the provinces, and the student-educator ratio is the worst in Canada, with three more students per educator than the national average. If B.C. brought its student-educator ratio up to the national average, we would have 6,600 more teachers to work with students in our classrooms.

B.C. Liberal policies since 2001 have been particularly harmful to our most vulnerable learners, with damaging cuts to learning specialist services. As Minister of Education, Christy Clark brought in legislation in 2002 that gutted students' learning conditions with the removal of protections for class size and composition, and learning specialist services.

She promised that "flexibility" would lead to improvements for students, but by all accounts, this relentless, unprecedented, and ultimately unconstitutional attack on teachers' rights has been an abject failure in protecting vital programs and services for students. For example, learning specialist positions have declined from 7,187 teachers in 2001-02 to 5,658 in 2011-12, a drop of 21 per cent, and more than double the rate of enrolment decline in the same period. Students in Sea to Sky District have faced a 34 per cent decline in specialist services over the same period, which includes a staggering 45 per cent drop in teacher-librarian time in our local schools.

After a long decade of cuts to programs for students and attacks on teachers' right to freely negotiate their working conditions, B.C.'s teachers are asking voters to consider those parties and candidates who support:

• improved equity for students through a comprehensive poverty reduction plan;

• proper classroom supports through class size and composition protection so that all students can meet their full potential;

• respectful consultation and engagement with teachers on all matters of education change, including curriculum, assessment and policy;

• recognition of teachers' collective bargaining rights as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Teachers are committed to the promotion of a strong, stable and equitable public education system and we urge you to remember our students when you vote on May 14th!

Carl Walker, president

Sea to Sky Teachers' Association

Six years and counting

The following information was sent to the Ombudsperson in support of an investigation launched by Squamish Lillooet Regional District resident, Scott Gillis.

Scott Gillis has contacted the offices of the Ombudsperson regarding his concerns over a 111 per cent increase in water rates. The increase has happened as a result of a six-year unresolved dispute between the Village of Pemberton and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District.

My husband and I started our own investigation into Pemberton and area water rates last year. The information we found was quite scandalous; users paying different rates in different areas of our community, users with meters paying more than users without meters, and users experiencing cost increases varying from three per cent to 100 per cent.

We also learned that the Village of Pemberton was going to shut off water service to Pemberton North residents (who are part of the Pemberton community), if the Squamish Lillooet Regional District did not pay an accumulated $450,000 (approx.) debt to the Village of Pemberton.

We investigated and discovered that the Village of Pemberton back in 2007 decided to charge Pemberton North users $1.04 per cubic meter. Village of Pemberton users were paying between .35 and .42 per cubic meter. The Squamish Lillooet Regional District requested documented reasoning to substantiate the 2007 increase of 100 per cent plus to users. For six years the Village of Pemberton has not been forthcoming with documentation to validate the reasoning for the 100 per cent plus increase to users. The unpaid rate increase has remained unpaid for six years now and has accumulated to approximately $450,000.

My husband took a list of questions and concerns to Village of Pemberton council seeking clarification on the rate discrepancies between users all living in the same community of Pemberton.

Mayor Sturdy commented, "The fact that there are differential rates is entirely legitimate and justified," but he did not provide the background reasoning for the differential rates. My husband requested greater transparency asking Mayor Sturdy if he accepted the "discrimination" of setting water rates depending on where people lived in our community. Mayor Sturdy said he was willing to discriminate between water users.

We are shocked that this unresolved issue has been allowed to continue for six years without arbitration or an audit of the community of Pemberton water system.

Geoff and Brenda McLeod


Spring carnival a success

Once again we learned that it's the students and their families that put the community in Spring Creek Community School. 

The 1st Annual Spring Carnival was an astounding success! 

Pie eating contests, cake walks, the photo booth and cotton candy along with games and prizes were the order of the evening — with hundreds of people joining in on the fun. Many thanks to the SCCS PAC planning committee – Kerri Fletcher, Andrea Legge, Christiane Loring and Janis McKenzie for all their hard work.

Volunteer ringmasters Rob Cox and Ralph Forsyth kept it all flowing. Hanna and Kate Garcia and Paloma and Drake Rance worked hard serving yummy corn dogs and pretzels all evening. Thanks also to Heidi Rhode, Jen Leigh and Krista Watts in the kitchen. HUGE thanks to Jeff Isert — candy floss maker extraordinaire and Laurie and Karen on the Popcorn Station. We were thrilled with the efforts of staff members Erin Boisvert the fortune teller, Jacqui Tyler the Jelly Bean Clown, Susan Hamersley the Walking Cake and her sidekick Mardi Maynard. 

Of course, none of it would have been possible without the support from sponsors like: Steve Legge, Coastal Mtn. Mechanical Ltd, WMSC, Whistler Dental, Dairy Queen, Bearfoot Bistro, Paintertainment, SMD Auto, Whistler Laundry, Spearhead Tile, Sass Design, Whistler Photo Shack, Nesters, Rocky Mountain Chocolate, Great Glass Elevator, Jennifer Zizman Art, Whistler Cooks!, and Upper Village Market. 

We were thrilled to see the smiles and laughter all evening and are so proud that the funds raised will go towards supporting programs and events in our school.  Looking forward to making more memories next year!

Tanya Goertzen, co-chair SCCS PAC

Spring Creek Community School

42.2 kilometres of thanks!

Thank you Whitney and Katie for helping me train the past four months (for the BMO marathon in Vancouver May 5). I can never repay you for your support, friendship and words of wisdom through rain, snow and cold mornings. When I said I love you both at kilometre 30, I meant it.

You blew me away when you chanted my name over the last 10 kilometres when all I wanted to do was throw up and stop. Celebrating with you after made the end of a perfect day even more perfect. May our therapy sessions on the trails continue for many years to come!

Shauna Peachman


IPPs not the answer

Here I was standing out in my back yard last night listening to Pemberton Creek Falls and watching the stars sparkle in the sky and thinking what a beautiful place to call home, and it came to me that I really should enjoy these moments of peaceful serenity.

If local and provincial politicians have their way that will be a thing of memories past — in a few short years the beautiful Pemberton Valley will become crisscrossed with power lines and clear-cut right of ways for Run Of River projects, so owners and shareholders can make money off of "our," meaning the people of B.C.'s, (rivers).

I believe these wild rivers and creeks are supposed to belong to us (yet we) sit by and watch this happen for a few tax dollars and the promises of bigger and better things... at the cost of destroying why we live here in the first place.

This flawed policy that is in place was instituted and run by the Liberal Party of B.C. Our mayor is running as a candidate for that very same party. And is also pushing for a ROR on Pemberton Creek along with the rest of council.

Just think, the hum of a power stationwith Pemberton Creeks water piped into that powerstation turning turbines so we can all enjoy watching local and provincial governments grow bigger and shareholders and owners make more money as the taxpayers of B.C. pay four to 20 times as much for this power as we do for our present big-dam power, which we have enjoyed for years until these ROR energy projects started being pushed.

It's time to stop this fiasco if we want to continue to enjoy this wonderful wild place we live in and the reasons we live here in the first place.

A few jobs for a few months and the joys of living in a construction zone. I've said it before and (I'll) say it again. It's short-term gain for long-term pain. Not only for the people but for all the wild things associated with these ROR projects — the trees, plants and animals, and fish species that can and will be put at risk when these projects take the water and pipe it through their turbines, cut their clear cut power line corridors, push their roads into untouched wilderness areas and overall destroy what we now have.

That is why I am writing this letter hoping that it makes some sort of impact and perhaps gets people thinking of what we are losing, not only here, but also all over British Columbia. I certainly don't have all the answers, and yes this big-dam power we all have now wasn't perfect, but it's already there and cheap. And it's owned by us, as a public entity

Gerald Giguere


Gone Fishin'

I have been enjoying my recent retirement from the Rim Rock Cafe and would like to thank all the people who have made my restaurant career so memorable. At the very top of my list are my two employers for the past 29 years; partners Bob Dawson and Rolf Gunther. I am so glad I picked Bob up hitchhiking at the old Gulf station that day in 1984!

Still at the top of the list are all the people I have worked with, of course too many to list here, but I will never forget your faces. I have been privileged to serve three generations of several Whistler families and countless customers who visit the restaurant regularly.

Another huge thank you goes to the physio, massage and chiropractic therapists who kept me working and playing over the years. Many thanks to my friends who made my last night at the Rim Rock a "sparkling" occasion. And to my employers: I will see you on the golf course with my new "retirement golf clubs," and on the windy rivers!

I am moving on to earlier nights to bed, earlier days at the ski hill, and hopefully some part time work in the fall...hint...looking for the perfect job. Qualifications include friendly, organized and willing.

Pat Rowntree  


Stop the carnage

Who among the prospective leaders of this province will stand up and address this issue of IPP's?

At least put a moratorium on further development of this petulance.

Rescind Bill 30 in doing so return British Columbia to a democracy.

Rescind Bill 38 to allow complete disclosure of contracts given out for IPPs.

Re-asses IPPs already in operation or in development — 87 per cent of maximum flow taken in the Kokish is definitely not acceptable. This was one of the world's most beautiful fish spawning rivers.

What will be the province's future tourist platform? Come see B.C. where we have destroyed all our pristine rivers and erected a spider's web of power lines?

Please stop this carnage, step back and think for a moment.

Jack and Marie Ronayne


North Creek IPP

Innergex reported (recently) that it has asked BC Hydro whether it can cancel its proposed North Creek river diversion project.

I have discovered, however, that if BC Hydro grants this cancellation, the reprieve will only be temporary. According to government sources, Innergex fully intends to develop a river diversion project at a later date.

This means that the wildlife and their habitat is likely to be disturbed and/or destroyed over an even more extended period of time, which calls into question the recovery or even survival of the many species at risk who live in the backcountry.

Nor do the humans who live in the valley want to live in a permanent construction site.

The residents of Pemberton do not want any more river diversion projects in Pemberton Valley. They do not want the Upper Lillooet River, Boulder Creek, North Creek or Pemberton Creek to be running through pipes.

Our wild rivers should run free. We do not want Innergex to own 11 out of the 25 proposed and/or existing river diversion projects in Southern B.C. and for BC Hydro to go bankrupt.

If you vote Liberal in the upcoming elections, we will lose control over our water and our public lands as more and more of it gets handed over to corporations.

Sarah McMillan


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 <> 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


IPPs have long history

Independent Power Projects (IPP), rapid transit, wood-framed apartment buildings over four floors etc. are great ideas that ill-informed provincial government advisers who couldn't be bothered to actually see how these were properly done elsewhere, have managed to turn into disasters.

IPPs have been used, mainly outside North America, for quite a while now. For the most part they were never meant to be an industrial venture requiring dams across a river, new roads and long distance power lines etc.

They were an easy way to provide very economical energy to a single house, a small factory, or a village, right by a river and without damaging it.

In many cases a centuries old water mill that had long ceased to produce flour or oil, or an abandoned short derivation canal of a long ago destroyed water mill, were simply retrofitted with a small turbine.

Eons ago I was studying the art of building roads, bridges, sewers etc. in a small town in the mountainous Auvergne region of central France, well known in the rest of the country for its harsh winter climate (and the thriftiness of the natives who make Scots look like careless spenders).

One of our science teachers was renovating an old water mill on one of the many small rivers in the area. The hydro line that linked his home to a village many kilometres away was unreliable in winter, so he bought a small used turbine, fixed it in the college workshop, installed it and, from then on, got free electricity.

In those days EDF, the French national hydro company, didn't even think of buying power from people like him.

In the past 12 years that hydro company (it now does business in 30 foreign countries) has actively helped homeowners and small businesses to audit the energy consumption of their homes or business then do whatever is needed to save as much energy as possible (energy saving is now a legal requirement in Europe). This includes — besides first insulating the building and replacing old doors and windows — wood pellets for stoves, solar panels, small windmills, heat pumps etc. and of course micro hydro power plants.

Some European real estate companies specialize in water mills, from those already in working order to ruins that are too romantic to be left abandoned.

J-L Brussac


Run of River election issue

Voters in the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding are likely to be interested in learning more about Jordan Sturdy, the BC Liberal candidate.

As mayor of Pemberton, Jordan Sturdy has shown limited willingness to listen to his constituents and questionable fiscal management.

Since October 2012, at least 320 locals have expressed their opposition to a proposed river diversion or run-of-river project on Pemberton Creek through signing petitions, sending letters and attending council meetings. Such a project would ruin a stunning waterfall, negatively impact the spawning area used by Coho salmon, contaminate a source of drinking water and not be of economic benefit to Pemberton or the province.

The Village of Pemberton is promoting a river diversion project on Pemberton Creek in an attempt to make up for the huge budgetary shortfall caused by the construction of Pemberton's community centre. The latter ended up costing more than three times its original budget.

Notwithstanding public opposition, council issued a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI), and on 25 April about 170 Pemberton residents attended a public meeting, hoping to learn about the submissions received. Instead the public was merely presented with three concepts (two river diversion projects and maintaining Pemberton Creek in its natural state) while the proponents' names were not even disclosed. Not surprisingly, the public virtually unanimously expressed their support to maintain Pemberton Creek in its natural state. It remains to be seen whether Mayor Jordan Sturdy is listening now, or whether he will continue to waste taxpayers' money on this flawed and unnecessary process.

So, if you are looking for an MLA who listens to his constituents and spends taxpayers' money wisely, you may want to consider the other candidates.

Louise Taylor