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Letters to the Editor for the week of October 27th

WSAR gala success October 15 marked our 17th year for the annual Whistler Search & Rescue Wine'd Up Gourmet Dinner & Auction Fundraiser.
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WSAR gala success

October 15 marked our 17th year for the annual Whistler Search & Rescue Wine'd Up Gourmet Dinner & Auction Fundraiser. Every year, this single event raises vital funds to support our incredible community of volunteers who donate their time 24/7 at a moment's call for service.

The Wine'd Up annual Gourmet Dinner & Auction could not happen without the generous support from our amazing event partners since its inception — Whistler Blackcomb, the United States Consulate, Dana Lee Consulting — our long time partner of this event, Gary Raymond, President of the American Friends of Whistler, and this year, the outstanding contribution from Whistler's own culinary chefs, including (those at) The Four Seasons Resort, Araxi, Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler Blackcomb and Whistler Cooks.

In addition, our heartfelt thanks go to our legacy partners — Sabre Rentals, Garibaldi Graphics, Pique Newsmagazine, the Whistler Question, Senka Florists, Adele Campbell Gallery, Whistler Brewing and Nita Lake Lodge. We also recognize our many, many generous donors — over 150 businesses and individuals, from Whistler and Vancouver who without question support our event year after year. We realize there are many societies and charities in Whistler that draw upon the same group of businesses, so we thank you for your continued support and donation year after year.

This annual event sells out within the first two weeks, which speaks to the support of our amazing community. So we thank and recognize our community of supporters throughout the Sea to Sky, who joined us for this delightful experience of gourmet food, wine tasting and lively auction.

We beat our expectations once again on the contributions from our guests, and we can't thank you enough.

Lastly, this event could not happen without the dedication of our event committee, which spends a tireless amount of time planning, organizing, and managing the details, which literally takes nine months of effort.

On behalf of Whistler Search & Rescue, we are grateful to the efforts of our superlative organizing committee — Janice Hulse, Sue Stafford, Sharon Tyrrell, Greg Newton, Rosemary Cook, Rob & Kathleen Withey, Michele Paquin and Susan Bearance. You are our unsung heroes!

It's extraordinary that we have been able to hold this event for 17 years running — we hope to continue this tradition for many years. It's a true testament to the incredible community we live in — a community that supports its members, and our many guests and visitors who come to the best place on earth!

Brad Sills
President, Whistler Search & Rescue

Grizzly bear hunt not based on good science

A government-purchased report that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is hailing as proof of successful grizzly bear trophy hunt policies has a much darker side within its pages: a clear warning of what will happen, should immediate action not be taken.

Expert opinions: When data is thought to be inaccurate, "expert opinion" can override physical, scientific methods of estimating populations; the report notes that "any data-based estimate will outperform expert opinion" and that 39 per cent of the province's populations are based on expert opinion instead of preferred methods of modelling. The report also notes that "no clear criteria for the use of expert opinion over-riding model predictions, nor clear documentation of how experts derived their estimates." Additionally, the potential bias or conflicts of these experts was not discussed. 

Lack of funding: An unreliable, and often unacceptably low, stream of funding for monitoring the resources surrounding grizzly bear populations, including the bears themselves, is shown to be very problematic for the panel, which notes that a "lack of resources reduced effective management planning and resulted in excessive dependence on extrapolation methods... this resulted in an ad-hoc inventory program largely driven by other resource development (e.g., oil, gas, mines, pipelines, hydro)."

Transparency: Perhaps the most common theme throughout the report is the lack of transparency — from how individual decisions are made on population estimates to an apparent lack of interest in public and First Nations input.

It is important to note that this report was solely designed to look at scientific procedure, and though it found merit in the efforts of the government, there are significant flaws — potentially fatal flaws — to the sustainability of grizzly bear populations if they are not addressed. It also does not address the public view, the ethical arguments, or the First Nations stances on a grizzly bear trophy hunt.

We can only hope that the government will stop patting itself on the back long enough to see just how much work needs to be done to protect grizzlies — not for a hunt, but from one.

Lesley Fox
Executive Director, The Fur-Bearers

Old-growth forests should be left standing

I recently had the privilege of hiking in Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park and in Avatar Grove on Vancouver Island. These magnificent old-growth forests pulsed with biodiversity.

Wandering amongst the old-growth trees made me feel that all is well with the world. At one point, I sacrilegiously thought that these trees were freaks of nature. I immediately realized the utter falsehood of my thought. The truth is B.C.'s "managed" forests are freaks of nature, which was made abundantly clear to me driving through endless clearcuts and monoculture tree plantations to reach the old growth forests.

Foresters, like Stirling Angus ("Logging Practices Support Local Communities," Pique, Sept. 8) and B.C.'s Minister of Forests, Steve Thomson, can delude themselves that "carefully managing second-growth forests, including the judicial use of herbicides in some cases, encourages productive, environmentally sustainable forests that provide clean water, carbon absorption, wildlife habitat and recreational values."

There is, however, nothing environmentally sustainable about clearcuts, monoculture plantations or using herbicides to kill the nitrogen-fixing pioneers that fertilize the soil.

What is sustainable about the 600,000 kilometres of logging and resource roads that fragment B.C.? (2015 Forest Practices Board access road report) What is sustainable about the five million tonnes of slash waste created by logging burnt in 2015, which substantially increased B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions? (

To add insult to injury, logging is only "profitable" because it is so heavily subsidized by B.C. taxpayers who fund the low stumpage rates and tax breaks for raw-log exports.

Our old-growth and mature trees have much more value alive for the carbon they store, the biodiversity they support and their beauty.

Our elected officials should take note that the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction now includes environmental crimes. Climate change, which logging exacerbates, is the biggest environmental crime of our times.

Louise Taylor

Scavenger hunt fun

Sunday, Oct. 23 was the first annual "The Hunt — Mom and Son Scavenger Hunt." This fundraiser and community event, benefiting the Whistler Children's Centre, involved mom-and-son teams taking part in a mobile-app-based scavenger hunt around Whistler Village.

Teams were required to check in (via GPS), take photos and answer questions all over town. Teams dressed up in hunt-themed outfits and amazing Halloween costumes and completed missions from Marketplace to the Upper Village.

After hunting for missions, teams gathered at the Whistler Conference Centre for après, prizes and awards. The event was a big hit and much fun was had by all!

For an inaugural year, The Hunt was extremely successful in both fundraising and providing a fun-filled afternoon for moms and sons. It could not have been done without the generosity of this community.

On behalf of The Hunt Organizing Committee we would like to extend a huge thank you to all our fantastic volunteers, event sponsors, raffle donors and mission sponsors for all of your generous donations. (Please see page 61 for a list of these fantastic businesses).

Thank you also, to all the mom and son teams who participated and contributed to this cause. 

All funds raised will go towards the Whistler Children's Centre, helping with learning materials, classroom equipment, along with art and program supplies. In turn, further supporting the future adults of our community. 

The Hunt Organizing Committee
Anik Champoux, Ashlie Girvan, Corinna Hoverd, Louise MacDougall, Melanie Keam, Tory Kargl and Yolanda Foose

Fungus Among Us find diversity in the woods

The Whistler Naturalists would like to thank everyone who participated in another fun Fungus Among Us Mushroom Festival.

Tons of fungi in the woods brought out an enthusiastic crowd of fungophiles for Friday talks, Saturday walks and the gourmet wild mushroom tasting.

By Saturday afternoon, the display tables at Myrtle Philip were filled with species of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes that impressed the hundreds of people who viewed them.

The total number of species (at least, there may be more as things shake out) from the weekend was 179. Of these, 23 have not been recorded before.

As usual, we're amazed by how much diversity is in the woods, how much it changes each year, and how many new species the experts continue to find. The total number of different species of fungi now known in Whistler is almost 900.

We couldn't run the festival without our 25 fabulous mushroom gurus who gave talks, led walks, and labelled and presided over the mushroom display. Special thanks to the presenters: Luke Mikler (Fungal Fotos), Kem Luther (Look ma! No gills!), Andy MacKinnon & Erin Feldman (Mushy Musings).

Our popular gourmet, wild-mushroom tasting wouldn't have been possible without the great expertise and wonderful creativity of Chef Bruce Worden, Nesters Market and Milestones.

Thanks also to the amazing group of volunteers who helped out and all the folks that came out to share their enthusiasm and wonder for all things fungal.

Finally, the Whistler Naturalists would also like to thank our key sponsors: the Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE and RMOW as well as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Arts Whistler, Pasta Lupino and Avalanche Pizza.

See you next year, as always, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Bob Brett, Kristina Swerhun, Kathy Jenkins & Melanie Tardif
On behalf of the Whistler Naturalists

Inspiring story tellers

When I was a kid, my dad took me to a reading and discussion by William Golding, novelist and Nobel Prize winner, best known for his book Lord of the Flies. I remember my astonishment that actual, living people wrote and published books. The event left a lasting impact on me, and I have been engaged in storytelling my whole life.

This September the Authors in the Schools (AITS) program brought two award-winning Canadian authors to present their stories to Sea to Sky corridor students from Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Lil'wat Nation.

Kenneth Oppel entertained elementary students with a reading and discussion about his new book Every Hidden Thing. Author Lisa Moore read selections from her young-adult novel Flannery to high school students and answered questions about the writing life and where her stories and characters come from.

Prior to their presentations, class sets of their books were purchased from our program supporter Armchair Books and given to teachers in the schools.

We would like to thank the teachers, teacher-librarians and principals for their enthusiasm and commitment to this program.

Stella Harvey is the Founder of AITS and entices authors from all over the country to meet the amazing kids in our corridor. Pat MacKenzie and Libby McKeever are our committed and knowledgeable volunteers. We are incredibly grateful to have the support of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the BC Arts Council and the Province of British Columbia for their generous funding.

Our hope is that students who get to meet the award-winning, Canadian writers of the books they're reading will not only be inspired to read and write more, but to tell their own stories.

Rebecca Wood Barrett, Program Manager
Authors in the Schools
Whistler Writing Society

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