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Letters to the editor for the week of September 13th, 2012

Food is politics

In response to the article in last week's Pique ("Food for Thought" Sept.6, 2012), I must take this opportunity to comment as a local food advocate. I choose to eat local food for many reasons, and in no way do I think that it is the "panacea" to global famine issues!

I am not choosing local food as a way to help breast-feeding mothers in Rwanda, nor is it in response to banning DDT in favour of a large-scale malaria outbreak! These issues have more effective, and relevant solutions, I am sure.

I choose local food because it is a way I can play a political role in the food economy here in North America and spend my dollars, in the most direct way I can, in support of the health of myself, my community and the planet.

I choose local food, because it is better for the environment, especially if one takes the time to examine beyond simply transportation. In many cases, local food is smaller scale, resulting in crop diversity, less waste, and more sustainable practices. Small-scale farms are more ecologically similar to natural systems. This is in contrast to large, conventional monocultures, which are the ecological equivalent to a desert. Local, small-scale systems that support diversity, also practice rotation, which incorporate soil-building practices, and help build living ecosystems within an agricultural model.

Local, small-scale systems are less dependent on chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, even if not organic. In large, conventional monoculture systems, nitrogen fertilizers have a multitude of environmental impacts. The production of chemical fertilizers is a substantial carbon tax, and one that should be incorporated in the math when considering the "carbon-cost" of one's eating habits.

Additionally, these easily manufactured carbon laced nitrogen fertilizers are applied in excess and large-scale runoff creates ecological dead zones. Nitrification, acidification (which additionally aggravate the greenhouse effect) and habitat destruction are all ecological disasters that are a result of the industrialized food system.

As I lay my dollars down at the local farmer's market, I choose local, and organic when I can, as small-scale, local and organic is the best choice I can make in support of more ecological practices.

I choose to buy local food, as supporting local businesses, including farms, strengthens the local economy. Buying food from my local farmer's market is a community building activity.

Supporting a local food economy allows for me to have direct contact with the farmer, ask questions and get educated on their growing practices. By fostering this connection to where my food comes from, and more importantly who my food comes from I have more decision-making power than in the confusion, chaos and anonymity of the conventional agri-business conglomerate and I build a stronger community.

Local food economies are also more secure. Diversity is provided through more small farms, instead of fewer large farms, thus creating a more insured and resilient system to flood and climate extremes. Local systems are also more suitable to handle the peak oil crisis. As large-scale, conventional systems come crashing to a halt in production, as carbon dependent fertilizers no longer "create" the nutrient supply to grow crops. Small farms that have been building nutrients, while growing food, are better suited to continue producing without oil. Additionally, it is these smaller, more local food production systems, and their diversity, that are going to be better fitted to weather the unpredictable changing climate.

I enjoy good food, and a locally produced Pemberton carrot, just as the first frost causes the plant to stress and convert starch into sugar, tastes like nothing you would ever find along the agri-business line. Agri-business chains carry a large quantity of low-quality food that has been chosen because it travels well and has a long shelf life. Crop varieties that are found at the local farmer's markets are chosen because they taste good, and they are suited to grow in the local area.

I agree, (with "Food for Thought" author Ralph Forsyth) that food is politics. I vote with every dollar I spend, and when it comes to food, my choice to buy local is not "guilt-free" consumerism! It is making the best choice for my dollars that I can with the given information that I do have.

It is responsible, conscious, consumption, and a consumption that I am trying to keep in check in a culture that lives in excess in "the land of plenty."

Simone McIsaac


Yoga Aid World Challenge

With a huge heart, bursting with pride and gratitude to the Whistler community, I want to say thank you! Thank you for showing up generously in both body and spirit and helping us show the world that Whistler cares.

On Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, 50 generous souls, including two young children, a bright-eyed nine-month old, a pregnant woman (due any day now) and another who gave birth less than a month before, gathered on the Woodland's Terrace of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to join the global wave of giving in the Yoga Aid World Challenge. With Früv Freedomwear acting as the Whistler Ambassador for the challenge and the generous donations from our participants, over $2,250.00 was raised for the Africa Yoga Project.

The amazing two-hour celebration yoga class was lead by an all-star cast of Whistler instructors. Tina James in her unique and special way, lead the group in prayer, meditation and a succession of sun salutations. Julia McCabe guided us through challenging poses, bringing fire to the room providing a sense of union with the 20,000+ yogis uniting around the world to effect change. Devon Sockett, through her balancing poses, reconnected us with mother earth before Christina Tottle had us in back bends to burst open our hearts with the collective love being created and focused around the world that day — Yum! Erin Anderson brought each and every one of us a sense of release by freeing our hips and folding us forward before Tina called in the transformational powers of all that had been created both here and around the world, and in the everlasting words of Monty Python reminded us to, "Always look on the bright side of life!" before a beautifully sweet closing mediation.

A huge thank you to our instructors, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Kevani Macdonald of Burn Brighter Marketing, Toms Shoes, Neoalpine YYoga, PSAV Presentation Services, our photographers Kyle Graham and Andrew Ross, all the yogis that took time from their busy schedules to join the challenge and to everyone who donated. Whether you were a seasoned yogi or not, the experience was magical as we shone together, sharing a powerful intention to help those less fortunate around the world.

Please visit for photos of the event and for information on how to donate online until the end of the month.


Deb Lacroix

Früv Freedomwear

Swinging at our own risk

Last week, like any other hot day where I have some free time, I walked down to the Blueberry docks with some friends for some fun and laughs. However, our expectations for a good time were met with disappointment when we noticed that someone had cut down the rope swing we had been enjoying all summer, and for many years previous.

At first I was upset that some kid was playing what he thought was a funny prank. I then found out that someone had earlier hurt themselves rope swinging and ALL the local ropes had been cut down by the muni!

This upsetting news sparked a series of questions. Who was responsible for making this call? Are they going to come up with a plan to replace the ropes? If someone else puts up another rope, will that just be cut down?

Rope swinging is something many look forward to in summer. It gives us a chance to practice aerial tricks while the snow is gone, giving a fun challenge to all who attempt. Surely over time some people will get hurt, but they swing at their own risk. Anyone who grabs the rope, climbs to the launch point, and jumps out is obviously doing so willingly. So could there not be a liability reduction by posting a "use at your own risk" sign?

This action sheds light on a mentality that I consider to be the tail wagging the dog, in that the local government is acting as a parent and not as public servants.

Rope swings have been a part of Whistler as far back as I can remember. If the will of the people is to tie a rope to a tree and swing off it into the water, then the muni's job is to figure out how to make it work — not tell us, "no, you're not allowed."

I hope that the cutting of the ropes was a temporary move so that muni can rebuild what they cut down in a way that minimizes risk for the people who choose to use it.

I have a feeling no such plan is in place, but if I am wrong I hope those in charge will communicate their reasoning for doing so, and divulge their plans for minimized risk for next summer so that the plethora of local swingers can go back to one of Whistler's great summer activities.

I probably shouldn't hold my breath though.

Steve Andrews


Amazing seniors

I am honoured to not only live in Whistler, but to also have the best job in Whistler: I work with the amazing seniors.

Yes, there are lots of seniors who are not only living but also thriving in Whistler! On Sept. 6, Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) and the Mature Action Committee (MAC) hosted the Grand Opening of the new Seniors Drop In Centre.

We are calling this the Seniors Intergenerational Activity Centre. The energy in the room was invigorating and with over 70 people in attendance, WCSS and MAC would like to say thank you to all those who attended and supported our New Horizons for Seniors project roll out.

We were happy to have MP John Weston, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, MAC President Sue Lawther and WB Foundation's Doug Forsyth speak as well as receiving a Blessing from Ronnie Lester of Lil'wat First Nations.

Also, a special thank you to Nesters Market and Bruce Stewart for providing lovely snacks for the event. It was wonderful to feel the support from all the guests and recognize people who have helped build our community and are now supporting programming for seniors in the community. WCSS is honored to have the support of our local seniors and looks forward to taking the energy in the room and carrying it over to our weekly drop in sessions on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. at Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Social Services Centre at 1519 Spring Creek Drive.

For any questions please call Senior Needs Action Planner: Melissa Deller 604-902-0865.

Melissa Deller

WCSS, Whistler

Closing highway for Fondo poor decision

The closing of our highway on Sat, Sept. 8 for three hours, not for any good reason, or an emergency, but for a bike ride, is wrong. Claiming it is OK because we were forewarned is nonsense.

Our town was divided so that those on one side could not drive to the other side. Any notice did not clearly say that one could not drive across.

It is unfortunate that our highway was not built to accommodate bicycles. That oversight is no reason to steal the road use for a bike ride for that is not normal.

Bicycles are normally ridden on the streets, obeying stop signs and traffic signals as they might well have done on the Grand Infringement Day last Saturday.

We are told this was not a race but only a massive bike ride. Well, cyclists have been travelling on this highway without the barricades for a long time.

Everyone must know that this blockade was a stupidly arrogant decision unnecessarily disturbing the proper decisions of many, not the least of which was the right to attend the Brackendale Fall Fair on time.

No one really has the right to create this disturbance.

Terry Smith


Making music together

Moving Mountains for Children would like to thank the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation for its generous grant of $2,000 that was awarded to our organization to purchase musical instruments for our Music Together program. 

Parents, children, and teachers have greatly enjoyed exploring their musicality with the wide variety of instruments that were purchased. The instruments were much needed as we had been running with a small selection of donated and borrowed instruments. Favourites that were purchased include musical lily pads that play notes when children hop on them, three huge gathering drums, a xylophone, resonator bells, and various other fun and beautifully noisy instruments!

Music Together classes involve both children and parents, or other caregivers, in informal singing, chanting, moving, listening, and instrument playing activities that are developmentally appropriate for very young children. Continuing the activities informally at home is made easier by the CD, songbook, and parent education materials included in the cost of tuition.

Moving Mountains for Children is a non-profit organization comprised of a local group of parents, childcare workers, and community members committed to enhancing the well-being of children up to four years old, and families in Whistler.

While evaluating family programs available in Whistler, it was noted that although there are many sports opportunities for children we did not have a quality music program for children aged birth to four years old.

Moving Mountains member Carin Smolinski had attended Music Together classes with her now eight-and-a-half-year-old son Indiana in Tokyo and was determined to bring this amazing program to Whistler.

Music Together has now been providing fun, quality musical education to families for the past two years, and we want to thank our dedicated families as well as Moving Mountains for Children for subsidizing $50 of each child's tuition per term!

Teachers Jory Winter, and Carin Smolinski welcome families with children aged birth to four years old to join them for the coming term of Music Together. Classes start September 19 and enrollment can be made through or by calling 604-935-PLAY

Carin Smolinski


Rotary continues polio battle

I write to express appreciation for Canada's longstanding leadership in support of global polio eradication — a goal that is the highest priority for Rotarians throughout the world, and to encourage continued support of global polio eradication within CIDA's budget.

The global eradication of polio, a disease that cripples a child for life, is the top priority of Rotary International. Rotarians have dedicated more than $1 billion U.S., including more than $22.7 million U.S. contributed by Canadian Rotarians, and countless hours of volunteer service toward the goal of a polio free world.

The government of Canada has invested $350 U.S. in this historic effort and has worked side-by-side with Rotarian and the global partnership to conquer polio. When Rotary International and the government of Canada first began supporting polio immunization efforts in 1985, polio infected more than 350,000 children every year in over 125 countries. Today, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) have never stopped transmission of polio.

India, which many predicted would be the last bastion of polio, was removed from the list of endemic countries in February after going a year without a single case. Polio incidence in 2012 is 65 per cent lower than it was at this point in 2011, and the number of cases is lower and more geographically confined than at any other point in recorded history.

This dramatic progress is juxtaposed against a shortfall of $945 million U.S. in funds needed for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 to conduct essential polio eradication activities in the remaining polio-affected and at-risk countries. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is also working to develop a strategic plan for the five-year period beyond 2013, during which the world anticipates the achievement of polio eradication.

I encourage you to work with your peers in parliament to ensure Canada's continued leadership by providing a multi-year commitment of $35 million U.S. annually to support global polio eradication. I also encourage favourable consideration of a special $1 million match for a CIDA/Rotary partnership polio fundraiser what would increase public awareness, provide needed resources, and draw attention to the unique leadership role played by the government of Canada in the effort.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has expressed strong interest in further leveraging these funds by providing an additional $1 million for a total of CIA/Rotary/Gates collaborative commitment of three million dollars. These complementary funding commitments will ensure that we seize the window of opportunity to conquer this crippling disease — an achievement that is anticipated to generate savings of up to $50 billion U.S. within the next 20 years.

Patrick McCurdy

President, Rotary of Whistler Millennium

Put Gates rec centre back on track

I was upset, but not surprised, that the Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has suspended all work on the Gates Lake Facility.

Who in the region really cares about about us hicks in the bush anyway? As the rest of corridor gets overdeveloped, overfunded and over marketed, we just merely exist in our black hole.

Can you believe there are places left where there is no cell service, high speed Internet, cable TV or even reception to CBC radio? We have nothing. Not even the remotest communities are so socially isolated.

Now they want to take away the only hope of some nucleus for things to start happening.

Apparently the agreement we made with Pemberton that we would share recreation cost is no longer working. Well it worked just fine as we paid into it for the last 15 years and bailed out the over-budgeted white elephant community centre. Now that it's our turn to receive some funds no one wants to share. Susie (Gimse), please stick to your guns and with your community that you've invested your time, energy and life to.

Personally, I think our local officials would be wise in investing a lot more into recreation, even if it means higher taxes. Its what we do around here. There is no better investment in our youth and future.

If we don't have things to occupy our kids they will quickly get into mischief and eventually cost the system even more money.

We should be moving forward on this one.

Mike Roger