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Sharing water, correcting appearances, dumpster debris, and small business deficits

The Ashlu Runs Free March 22 was World Water Day. Whose water is it? It’s yours. Whose responsibility is it to guard the fresh water? It’s yours.

The Ashlu Runs Free

March 22 was World Water Day.

Whose water is it? It’s yours. Whose responsibility is it to guard the fresh water? It’s yours. Whose responsibility is to kick people out of town who cause friction amongst communities?

There isn’t anything good about Independent Power Projects. There is nothing good in them for our communities that we don’t already have. There are 565 private hydropower water licences on the go in B.C. Those who have become informed know why there is so much pressure to hurry these private deals. They are bad for the public. The public is slow to learn. You pay to build them and you even pay their property taxes but don’t expect any of those private companies to tell you that.

B.C. Hydro (that’s you) makes power for us that costs B.C. Hydro about 1 cent per kilowatt. B.C. Hydro (that’s you) pays the IPPS $55 per megawatt. The U.S. rate for residential electricity today is five times what it is here and has been as much as 20 times higher. Are you getting the picture? Private companies and the provincial government are moving us to the deregulated U.S. electricity model. The reason we have a good economy is because we have a monopoly on cheap power. We don’t have to give it away. If you don’t get informed and start protecting your water and B.C. Hydro you’ll be sorry.

All of us together should share our resources. We need to fight now for our fresh water as it is not only the last great resource in the public domain but is life itself. All of us together should be fighting to protect the public ownership of our fresh water and our entire electricity system.

May the Wild Spirit of the Ashlu prevail in keeping it free.

Tom Rankin

Upper Squamish Valley

A long, complex process

Treaty negotiations are complex, and they involve three parties with quite different motivations which bring them to the table. We’ve spent years building up a mutual trust and confidence level that might be shaken if the integrity of our process is shaken.

For this reason, it’s important for me to correct the appearance that Stage 4, agreement in principle is a "done deal". It’s not. On March 21 the parties’ chief negotiators signed a letter recommending the draft agreement in principle to our respective principals.

My principals are the In-SHUCK-ch Nation citizens, in general assembly. They will be asked to approve the agreement in principle by general assembly resolution. To prepare for this, my team is now circulating a package of information so that they can make an informed decision on April 30. Most of this information has been in circulation already, through a variety of methods. What they’ll receive are the refinements resulting from the last weeks of negotiations.

Assuming we approve the draft, my three chiefs will then sign the agreement. It will then advance through the provincial and federal systems. It might therefore take until the fall for Stage 4 to be formally concluded and signed. Some treaty tables have a joint signing ceremony involving ministers. I’ve indicated to the other parties that for us, this is a process benchmark, and we’ll forego fanfare. We simply wish to get on with negotiating final agreement.

In fact, the day following the chief negotiators’ recommendation, we began to plan, and to review the "language" reached at other stage 5 negotiations. We’ll integrate their language where this is practical, and we’ll venture some innovations or variations of our own.

Like the half dozen other lead treaty tables, we’ve isolated a small handful of deal-breaking issues including governance, certainty and fiscal relations (including taxation) that the First Nations’ chief negotiators are actively networking on. I’m in fact considering joint negotiations involving the other lead tables on specific issues.

Also, in company of the other lead tables, I met with the new federal minister of Indian Affairs in recent weeks. And, together, we had met with Premier Gordon Campbell late last year. Our shared objective was to solicit support for mandate reviews at the cabinet level.

The agreement in principle runs to 180 pages. There are accompanying maps and appendices. Virtually all of this information has a language of its own. I’ve lived and breathed the rather specialized language of nation-building and treaty for most of my adult life. I’m prone, therefore, to talk in a code of jargon and acronyms. And, I make the mistake of believing that everyone I discuss these matters with is as conversant as I. This, obviously, is not the case. So, I appreciate Pique Newsmagazine for taking an interest in progress we’re making in treaty.

On a more personal note, my name "Eppa" does not mean boy as reported in Pique Newsmagazine. Boy is actually "appa", which I’m not called by anyone anymore except my dad.

Alex Peters is aged 90, and is a respected Lil’wat elder. About 20 years ago, thinking that it was time I grew up, he decided it was time I had a name. So, he shared one of his names with me. As is our tradition, names are "passed down". Before my dad carried the name, it was his grandfather’s.

When I received the name, I asked him and other elders its meaning. Unfortunately, as it’s an ancient name its meaning is lost in time. His grandfather died at age 94 in 1925, when my dad was 10. He remembers him as an "Indian doctor" or shaman. He died when my father was with his father at a land claims gathering of leaders at Musqueam.


In-SHUCK-ch Nation

Address the mess

I’d like to bring to your attention the horrible mess on the lot behind the McDonald’s and in front of the Peaks/Pioneer Junction townhouses in Pemberton. Development in this area ceased a long time ago and the adjacent lot has been left an absolute pigsty. There is an overflowing construction dumpster, bags of garbage and a huge array of construction and landscape debris spread throughout the area.

This lot is in a high traffic, high profile area. I would appreciate it if council would take the steps to contact the owner and insist they clean up the area immediately. Are there not bylaws in place governing the state of a work site and a final cleanup schedule?

This brings up the larger issue of the general disgusting state of litter in our village. The Village of Pemberton obviously does not have the budget for garbage cleanup so therefore building and business owners need to be encouraged/enforced to do a better job of keeping their respective sidewalks litter free. The issue of litter obviously needs to addressed at the school level. Anyone who lives between the McDonald’s and the schools can attest to this. There must be some way the local school kids can be involved, on a consistent basis, in a regular litter cleanup program.

Are there not fines for littering in Pemberton? With all the trash on the ground certainly this would be a great cash generator.

This of course leads to the important tourism issue of beautifying our village, but all the flowers in the world do not hide the litter.

I understand there is a community pride cleanup weekend scheduled for April, which is a great event but these are ongoing issues which need to addressed more than just one weekend a year.

Margo Vaughan


Remember us?

Such an increase in construction in Whistler over the past few years, but to what expense. What about the local businesses that are losing out? For the past year and a half or so there has no longer been a local laundromat in Whistler Creekside. The locals and the people who own condos in Whistler Creekside that do not have laundry facilities in their units have been forced to go all the way to Nesters to do their laundry. It's two bus rides one way or a $20 taxi ride just to get somewhere to wash your dirty laundry.

Whistler is not all about expensive hotels and visitors who are wealthy. We have had a family condo for over 15 years and our washing machine is broken. We want to see a laundromat come back into Whistler Creekside, especially for the young people who work at this ski resort and the local families. The small local businesses should not be forced out of the area. Too many glitzy hotels and expensive condominiums. Remember the dedicated longtime residents, whether permanent or seasonal, who have come here to Whistler in winter and summer as well. We put lots of money into the local economy.

Cathy Roberts


Who’s Intolerant?

At the risk of starting a war of words, I feel compelled to address several inaccuracies in Lincoln Ferguson’s letter to Pique Newsmagazine on March 23 rd .

• The idea put forth that "non-motorized enthusiasts should be prohibited from motorized areas" is a puerile tit-for-tat concept which was dealt with early on in the Backcountry Forum, and was easily resolved because it’s a one-way conflict. In other words, while snowmobiles have a huge impact on a ski tourer’s experience, ski tourers have no impact on sledders’ (or heli skiers’) ability to enjoy their own activity, and so snowmobilers couldn’t care less about ski tourers (unless, of course, if they write a letter to the editor). The heli ski—snowmobile conflict, however, is a two-way conflict, and thus there are heli ski areas where snowmobilers don’t go, and vice-versa.

• As for the comment about "how much better he must be", well, it was clearly a cheap shot based on a twisted interpretation of quoted words and phrases I did not use. Applying Mr. Ferguson’s logic (sic), it would be equally fatuous to suggest that organic farmers only plough their fields with horses and that cross country skiers walk to their trails. Are Beckie Scott, Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford any less my heroes because they flew to Italy to compete in the Olympics? Of course not.

• Mr. Ferguson suggested I am "easily angered" but in fact I had a calm and civil discussion with the snowmobiler on the summit of Mount Sproatt (although I do know of several ski tourers who would have been absolutely livid). I have spoken with snowmobilers in public meetings and out in the backcountry and not once has my demeanour been "angered". Mr. Ferguson also suggests that I am "informal, discourteous or rude." Perhaps he might provide specific examples before carelessly labeling others. I gave three sound reasons before I was "tempted" to use the word ignorant to describe the snowmobiler on Mount Sproatt. Mr. Ferguson gave no valid reasons or evidence before he proceeded to call me ignorant.

• Mr Bastien is also guilty of baseless name calling when he referred to "a few uninformed, non-motorized folks". Quite the contrary, I say, as the recent letters by Al Whitney and Bryce Leigh were intelligent, articulate, fact-based and often informed by first hand observation. If the "constant barrage of negative comments" are unfounded, then please feel free to refute the specific details publicly. If the negative comments are indeed based on fact, then please take note that the public are fed up with all the negative impacts snowmobilers are having on the Sea to Sky corridor. To be fair, I suspect that the majority of troublemakers are not snowmobile club members, but that still doesn’t change the magnitude of the problem.

• Mr. Ferguson’s suggestion that ski tourers go to Parks is tantamount to saying "you go play on (at best) 20 per cent of the land base, and we’ll take the other 80 per cent." For some reason, snowmobilers have a perennial axe to grind with Parks and it only illustrates how this user group is still in denial about the impacts of their activity (see the comments in my previous letter). In essence, this issue comes back to whether we see ourselves as a part of the natural world, or separate from it. So for the record, I won’t be lobbying government for greater access to Parks because I appreciate that there are some areas which should NOT be overrun with humans – places where wildlife and wilderness values are predominant.

• I agree completely with Mr. Ferguson’s suggestion that government is not doing enough enforcement, but then again, if snowmobiles create the problem, why should government (read: the taxpayer) be on the hook to fix it? And let’s face it, government is at the table to make peace (to give businesses certainty) and to issue as many revenue-generating tenures as possible (in order to double revenue), while letting market forces decide carrying capacity (which is a whole other topic for discussion, and ironically, one area where ski tourers and snowmobilers were united in opinion).

• Mr. Ferguson also makes the allegation that I am intolerant, but looking at how many areas we no longer visit shows that this is simply not true. Ski tourers have historically been non-confrontational and have just gone elsewhere when the snowmobiles showed up. Now there are precious few "elsewheres" to go to, and so Mount Sproatt is a last stand of sorts. Would snowmobilers be as tolerant if they’d been displaced from so many areas? …or if they’d had their activities disrupted to the same extent that ski tourers have? I really don’t think so. So in the final analysis, I ask Mr Ferguson: Who’s intolerant?

With regard to the public airing of dirty laundry, I say that two or three snowmobiles in a non-motorized area are something I can deal with: Nobody lives in a perfect world and issues of this magnitude could probably be dealt with in a venue like the Backcountry Forum. On the other hand, more than two-dozen snowmobiles in the immediate vicinity of Mount Sproatt (and in the watershed) is a situation completely out of control, hence my letter to the editor two weeks ago.

Some may wonder why ski tourers persist when clearly faced with such a losing battle. It is my personal hope that there may be a few areas near the Lower Mainland where one can get a hint of wilderness. Take Stanley Park as an example. It isn’t the real thing (not by a long shot), but if you like what you see, then you can go way up north and experience the real thing. And let’s face it, perceived wilderness is one of the main reasons bringing foreigners to the area, especially Europeans (because they’ve destroyed almost all of their wilderness). So in considering the fight for a few pockets of non-motorized backcountry, the late Randy Stoltmann perhaps said it best: "What we contribute to this world must be what we believe is right. I thank you for understanding."

Mark Grist

North Vancouver

Doggone nuisance

They are keen. The snow isn’t even completely melted yet and already the dogs are cultivating my garden. I hope their work isn’t another sign that this is going to be a horrendous year of the dog. There are already more than enough signs appearing at the sides of the roads as the snow melts. If only they would knock on my door and ask me where the tulips are planted I wouldn’t mind quite as much. I am already getting tired of running out in the morning half naked, trying to look as frightening as I can, and if that isn’t enough, yelling and swinging a broom as well.

It is a well publicized fact that Whistler is a "leashed dog community". Yet easily eight of the 10 or so dogs I encountered on the Valley Trail on Sunday were not leashed. I am not sure how many dogs run freely in Emerald but it only takes one once a day for a week to tear up a tulip bed. Still, loose dogs don’t cause near the damage their owners do by sending the implied message to the community that they just don’t give a dog shit.

Doug Barr


Whistler’s potential still untapped

RE: Searching for a Word (Pique letters, Brian Walker March 23 rd )

I also attended the community meeting at MY Place on March 9 th , but came away from that meeting with a different perspective from Mr. Walker, and likely, others who gave their time and energy to this conversation of what’s really possible for Whistler.

Firstly, I’d like to clarify one point from Mr. Walker’s letter last week. He wrote: "The process that Mr. Gupta employed was to distil all these words down to one word that the whole town could buy into," and later, writes: "the one word that everyone could keep in mind to create the desired effect while going about their daily business."

My perspective was that Mr. Gupta wasn’t asking anyone to buy into anything, but rather, answer the question he posed: "What is Whistler in service of?". With all of the comments that were listed, the next step was to look at the common themes of the group of words, and take the next step of creating a statement that captured the essence of these themes. Community (residents), environment (sustainability), prosperity (economy), and the experience that people had simply by being in Whistler were some of those themes.

Before the evening ended, I could start to see and be inspired by Whistler being a model community that can demonstrate what’s possible in each of these themes. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for Whistler as a community to be aligned, take actions consistent with, and demonstrate that, so that in 2010, we will not only offer the best Winter Games the world has seen, but also leverage that opportunity to demonstrate what we have done as a leading edge, model community for whatever we want to make possible.

As I write this, I am reminded by the comments Mr. Gupta had made earlier in the evening when he mentioned that some of the work that he has done with other communities and organizations produced far greater results and enjoyed bigger successes when their focus was not self serving, but rather to make a contribution to others, be a demonstration for what’s possible, and make a difference not just for their community or organization.

My hat is off to both Dave Halliwell, and Scott Carrell who are standing for what is really possible for this community, and inviting everyone to participate in creating what that might be. Not because there is anything wrong with Whistler, but because they can see that Whistler’s potential remains largely untapped. Now is the time to go beyond "our daily business."

I will be at the next meeting, and I encourage anyone else who is interested in this conversation to attend as well: Monday, April 10 th at MY Place — 7 p.m.—9:30 p.m. (Donations accepted to cover the cost of the venue).

Hailey Guille