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Letters to the editor for the week of November 22nd

Sliding sports celebrate sliding
opinion_letters1 ">Photography Perspectives - Jeff Smith / ">

For many of us, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games will remain in our memory banks, as Whistler's finest moment. We were so proud to have the whole world focus for a few short weeks on our village nestled in this magnificent mountain environment.

Who will ever forget Jon Montgomery's walk through the village following his gold medal skeleton performance? It is not just the memories of this brief period which endure, but we are also blessed with superb world class legacy facilities, including the Callaghan Valley's Whistler Olympic Park, our Olympic Plaza with its outdoor stage and new skating facility, and our Olympic Sliding Centre, the fastest and arguably the most beautiful course in the world.

Prior to these games, few Canadians were avid followers of luge, bobsleigh, and skeleton competitions, and for many of us, the Olympics introduced us to these exciting sliding sports for the first time. In Europe, tens of thousands of spectators attend competitions in these sports, but here in Canada, due to our relatively new exposure to these winter sports, attendance is not comparable to that at European venues. This means that here you can get up front and close as a spectator, and enjoy all the action.

Over the next few weeks, Bobsleigh Canada and the BC Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association will be managing several exciting events here which can be enjoyed by everyone. This week, the FIBT (Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing) World Cup races will be taking place, with on-course training during the week leading up to the races on Friday and Saturday. The women's skeleton races will be taking place on Friday at 10 a.m. followed by the two-man Bobsleigh at 3 p.m., with the women's bobsleigh race scheduled for 6:30 p.m. that evening. On Saturday at 9 a.m. the four-man Bobsleigh competition is to take place followed by the men's skeleton at 3 p.m.

On the week of Nov. 26 to Dec. 1, the InterContinental Cup Skeleton races are scheduled, to be followed by Whistler Sliding Centre's first North American Cup races for skeleton with training days from Dec. 3 – 6, and race days from Dec. 7 - 9.

In addition to the major events scheduled, there are a number of little known stories to tell involving sliding sports. For example, following the Olympics, a number of people were motivated to attend Bobsled Pilot School here in order to become a participants in this exciting sport, and several of these individuals will be acting as volunteer Course Officials at this week's World Cup races.

It is not all countries, particularly smaller countries, which can afford to build a Sliding Centre, such as Whistler's $110 million facility. In order to train for and compete in the Winter Olympics, their athletes must travel to Europe or to one of North America's four venues. An example is long-time Whistler resident Martin White who just happens to have a New Zealand passport in addition to his Canadian passport, while conveniently living in Alta Vista, just five minutes from Whistler's Sliding Centre.

With his partner Jon Reid, a Kiwi citizen from Auckland New Zealand, Martin is hoping to compete for New Zealand in the two-man Bobsleigh event at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, to take place in Sochi Russia. Training vigorously throughout the year here in Whistler, Martin and his brakeman partner have recently competed in Park City, Utah and Calgary, Alberta.

Next year Whistler is to become a regular part of the North America's Cup bobsleigh circuit, and in anticipation of this, Martin and his partner will be racing in Calgary again in two week's time as part of this year's North American Cup series, with plans to participate in the final two races at Lake Placid in March. This winter season's race plans also include St. Mortiz, Switzerland, and Sochi, Russia. The goal for this season is to earn World Cup ranking points in order to qualify for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Tonight Nov. 22, Martin will be joined by his brakeman partner Jon and his many Whistler friends for a benefit evening at Black's Pub in Whistler, to take place between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Everyone will be welcome, including the many friends who attended last year for a very casual and enjoyable evening. In order to help support our Canadian and New Zealand athletes, a variety of apparel embroidered with the New Zealand bobsleigh logo will be available for purchase.

Doug Garnett


Heliport rules put lives at risk?

Recently Transport Canada has better defined the law in reference to the Whistler Health Care Centre Heliport.

Even in a life or death situation it is illegal to land a single engine helicopter at the Heliport.

The Heliport was designated "H2" for multi-engine aircraft a couple years ago. There was a misunderstanding that in a life or death situation a single engine aircraft could land at the heliport. There is no room for misinterpretation any more — single engine aircraft will not be legally landing at the WHCC.

Therefore the current procedure is to fly to the Municipal Heliport north of Emerald, which adds another five minutes to flight time, 15 or more minutes for transfer from the helicopter to ambulance, as well as 15 minutes for the drive back to the clinic.

I do not believe this is an acceptable situation.

While the local helicopter operator has four multi-engine aircraft and they will make every effort to position one here on a regular basis, there is no guarantee that one will be available. It should be noted there is no contractual obligation to have a multi-engine aircraft based here. In the past it has been the single engine helicopters that were most often available for these types of operations, and have safely fulfilled the requirement.

As the Canadian Air Regulations now stand, if there is a life or death situation my decision, as a pilot, while flying a single engine helicopter is simple: fly to the Municipal Heliport north of Emerald. However I would not feel good about it from an ethical standpoint. There seems something wrong with over flying a heliport at which we have landed at for more than a decade safely, cutting in to the critical golden hour and potentially costing someone their life.

Does someone have to die before people feel the same way I do about this? Modifications can be made to the existing heliport to make it accessible for single engine helicopters. The approach paths down Blackcomb Way (Fitz Creek) and over Lots 4, 5 need to be cleared in order to meet the CAR's requirements for single engine utilization. The municipality needs to know from the citizens of Whistler that this is important!

Andrew Murdock


Xavier Rudd ticket price

I was taken aback when I read how much the ticket prices were for Xavier Rudd's latest concert at the GLC (Pique Nov.8, 2012 pg.76).

I will admit I enjoy Xavier's music, and I know with the substantial Australian population that resides here in Whistler, it is safe to say there are quite a few diehard fans. So when I found out the price of admission was $45 I was very disappointed.

Whistler is a place that I know Xavier holds very close to his heart. Having recorded a number of albums in Canada and having been married to a Canadian I thought he would understand the culture of Whistler a little better and how living on minimal wage in a tourist-inflated economy can be difficult.

In years gone by he has played a number of gigs in Whistler ranging from free to 20-odd dollars. Now, I do realize that his manager and the promotional company would have a significant say into ticket prices and venues, but how can you charge the same amount to see him at the Commodore in Vancouver, which is probably Vancouver's best live music venue — not taking anything away from the GLC and its ability to transform itself into a live concert venue?

To put it into perspective, Hilltop Hoods are arguably Australia's number one hip hop band for the last 10 years and they have played here in Whistler on a number of occasions charging no more than $25. I would have liked to have seen Xavier have a say into the ticket prices and have requested a discounted price. I heard the concert was unreal and I am sure the people who went got their money's worth tenfold, I just hope those diehard fans are not short on rent this month.

Steve Bona


Take a walk through 'International campus'

After the election to the south of us we should not need reminding that we need to be aware of the language used by those with a vested interest in the outcome of a debate.  The notion that designating the wetlands surrounding the "Zen lands" as an area of special interest is "Junk Science"  (as claimed by Doug Player) should only serve to make us all more cautious of the proposed WIC. In years past when the owners of these lands wanted to zone it for apartments, I walked these land with two different groups, both included people with excellent scientific backgrounds, and included some who were "professionally qualified" in the environmental sciences. The conclusion communicated to the councils of the day by both these groups was to avoid development on these lands. But one hardly needs more than an appreciation of high school ecology to walk this area and see that the provincial regulations for riparian land are very difficult to apply in the lands below Spring Creek and above Function Junction. I urge the reader to go.The issue for the lands where the WIC wishes to build a campus, is that besides the main drainage, (which would be assessed by the provincial regulations) there is also a wide area of vertical bog — water trapped by the underlying strata — which governs most of the ecology of the area.  Such systems are quite unique, harbour a large diversity of flora and fauna, and while these bogs are more important than the creek, they would not be assessed under the provincial regulations.  It is incumbent on all of us to be responsible to see that we don't lose them.

The real test of the sincerity of the people backing the WIC, is to offer a trade in lands with the price being the six private lots the area is zoned for. The idea of a campus at Whistler could then be assessed separately from these ecological issues above. If it is possible to get away with calling this part of our OCP "Junk Science" I might suggest that the idea of an institute of higher learning where students and faculty compete with the distractions of our great mountain resource (how would a 20-cm rule apply to class time?) might be labelled a "Junk Proposal."The original notion of a bedroom cap on our community was not to protect property values, or so that we could keep our little peace, or to support other similar notions.  It was based then on the well-founded idea that the impact of populations living at the summit of a mountain pass are much greater than the same population would have on the lower slopes.

The movement past the initial cap was done for good political reasons, and this is a richer community because it was done. The adding of another group to our mountain pass may just well be an increase in our ecological footprint that we should avoid. Council needs to commission an up-to-date study on the probable impact of: another increase in the actual cap, on becoming a college town on a mountain pass, and on how a Whistler U might just make it harder to get better at what we do best.

 Alan G Whitney

Past board member of AWARE and a past chairman of the FWAC of the municipality

Dress to Impress

There once was a time that I came to Whistler, looking for a job and would spend hours in the morning making sure I looked like I wanted to work here... wanted to be here... I only want to succeed here.

I would spend hours making sure my resume was up to standard, make my roommates read it and re-read it. I didn't want anything to look a mess.

Working and living in Whistler now, I now know when to expect all the eager new arrivals asking the same general question, "Are you hiring?" Everywhere is hiring! The question is, would we hire you when your first impression on us looks like you just rolled in from the club last night.

Guess what? Coming into any establishment, with your skinny jeans and touques/beenies will only get you one answer — take a look around where you're hoping to get hired and see if you'll fit what we're looking for. It's just that easy! It makes me wonder if they've gone anywhere else in the village and maybe missed the memo — even though you're outside, doesn't mean that carries on inside to your potential future job. Anyone can apply for a job and more importantly, if you have the qualifications — you're hired, welcome to the team! But the problem is, everyone is applying for a job, everyone has qualifications. Give us something to remember you by so you're not just another newbie looking for anything that pays. Just the other day a gentleman came to our front desk and, in all sincerity, had dreadlocks, was wearing ripped jeans and wore a hoodie that was brighter than anything I've ever seen at 80s night. Where do you expect to get a job if you're not dressing to look like you actually want one? If you define your desires by the way that you present yourself, your intentions come across as a joke. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first specimen to come along looking like that either — lose the ratty scarves and wrinkled t-shirts! What are you thinking!?

My advice to all you new, eager Whistler-ites... Dress to impress! Leave us with a genuine impression not with a laugh.

Catarina Baksina


Thanks to First Nations

G.D. Maxwell wrote last week in his column ("Maxed Out," Pique Nov.15, 2102) — one that I hardly ever read — that First Nations are not happy with Whistler's Official Community Plan and that nothing short of everyone who is non status thanking them for the use of their land would satisfy them.Here go my thanks. First Nations of B.C., of Canada and also of the rest of North America: thank you for preserving this beautiful land for millennia in harmony and sustainability with nature, so that we, so called cultured "white people" could come in hoards across the ocean, pollute the land, cut down trees, plow up the steppes, kill all the buffalo, build pipelines, highways, open mines and oil sands pits, poison rivers and fish so that we, the late-comers, can now live in great comfort while some of you live on some reservations in conditions not fit for a third world country.Thank you for mostly stoically and peacefully bearing cultural genocide, racism by the white population, desecrations of your burying grounds, racist handling by different Canadian police forces, government sanctioned police shootings of unarmed protesters (Dudley George, Ontario), stoning of cars with your women and children fleeing a reservation at the time of Oka crisis and all other symbols of our culture. Thank you for not getting too upset when white man cheated you with trinkets for your land or ensured that you did not disrupt the Olympic Games in Whistler by giving you back a tiny piece of your own land on which he now does not allow you to build what you want. Thank you especially with your OCP law suit for still having some faith into the white-man's legal system that was imposed on you and which has cheated you so often.I am thankful that you can forgive us when we, and I especially mean we here in Whistler, are so busy fighting for ecology, women rights, gay rights, kids rights and democracy in other countries that we forget to fight for your rights.And lastly I am thanking you for forgiving our mayor and our council for their monumental failure to reach an agreement with you on OCP for they do not know what they are doing. They think they cannot, but actually they will not.

Drago Arh Whistler