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This week's letters

Re: "Nebbeling supports Intrawest’s plans for Pemberton airport" (Pique, Aug.

Re: "Nebbeling supports Intrawest’s plans for Pemberton airport" (Pique, Aug. 27)

First of all it is not Intrawest's airport, it belongs to the Village of Pemberton, and therefore to the taxpayers of Pemberton, and it is up to the people to decide how the face of the airport will change, if at all.

Anyone who thinks that large jets flying into the Pemberton valley is a good idea has never lived near an airport. I have lived near an airport in an otherwise peaceful marine setting. Whenever a jet was taking off or landing all conversation came to a stop because of the noise. After having cleaned all the glass on the boat, I was appalled when three days later, cleaning the same surfaces, my cleaning cloth was black from jet fuel. Not brown from dust and dirt but black.

I realize that particular airport is much busier than Pemberton's will ever be, but even a small portion of that air and noise pollution, particularly in a tight valley, can't possibly be a positive step forward for Pemberton. Given the shape of our valley everyone will be affected, not just the unfortunate few who live out by the airport.

And what about the destruction of the land surrounding the runway? In order to accommodate large jets the length of the runway will have to be greatly increased. Shall we just destroy our community golf coarse and surrounding waterways so Intrawest can fly more tourists in and bus them back to Whistler?

Of course Nebbeling and the CEOs of Intrawest don't live in Pemberton; i.e it's not in their backyard, so they think it's a great idea. Perhaps they should purchase (and be forced to live in) homes right near the runway.

I'd like to know who invited Intrawest to Pemberton. From a resident's (who would like to keep living in Pemberton for many years to come) point of view they are uninvited and unwanted. Obviously they smelled money and headed on down the highway to find another town to change into $ signs for them. Easy enough to manipulate a small town council with talk of money, increased tax revenue, and all the wonderful things they will bring to this community. But we all know the unaffordable Whistler story. A lot of people are living in Pemberton because they can't afford Whistler. One look at the real estate pages and Pemberton is not far behind. Are we going to be chased out of Pemberton and have this beautiful valley changed beyond recognition so Intrawest can put more dollars in their pockets?

There is always talk of all the jobs that will be created. But will it be just like Whistler with plenty of jobs but no one to fill them cause they can't afford to live here? What is the point of creating a lot of low paying jobs when the average house price will be a million dollars and a "starter" one-bedroom condo a quarter million? But I guess they can just build staff housing up in Birken. I see a vicious cycle being perpetuated.

I can only hope that the people of Pemberton, and it's council, have enough integrity and common sense to look past immediate dollar signs, and choose slower, well thought out, development that will keep our valley liveable for generations to come.

Margo Vaughan



I was interested to read about the possibilities of a passenger airline service at the Pemberton Airport. I must say that I find it ironic that Intrawest, riding the sustainability wagon, is promoting what is the single most inefficient form of transportation. That is not to say that I wouldn’t like to see an airline service in Pemberton (I like planes almost as much as trains). I just feel it is important to point that out.

The establishment of an independent airport authority would practically be giving away something that the community has been investing in for many years. Like YVR, the airport authority would have complete control of the revenue generated, the airport, and would not have to answer to the community. People that own homebuilt airplanes, Cessnas, gliders, helicopters and even golf memberships may suddenly find themselves pushed aside, plugging their ears to make way for a landing jumbo-jet, or 20.

I realize that the possibility of 20 jumbo-jets landing everyday in Pemberton is unlikely, four is not when you consider that YVR is working towards becoming one of the busiest airports in the world and Whistler is working towards becoming a global brand name.

I remember that at the grand opening of the airport terminal, not so many years ago, a model showed a Dash 7 coming down the Pemberton Valley, not far above the highways yard (do you live near there?). The community must be very careful not to lose their say in what happens there or give birth to an organization more powerful then the community itself.

Any way that you look at it, this decision will have a dramatic impact upon local residents throughout the Sea to Sky for generations to come, especially those living in the lower Pemberton Valley through to Mount Currie and Lillooet Lake. It will take years to weigh all of the possible options, both negative and positive. If I was on council, and I never will be, I would procrastinate until about 2011.

Besides, has anyone even contacted any other airlines to see if they may be interested in the airport? When you are at the Olympics, go for gold.

Bjorn Gimse



Re: Ted Nebbeling

I have met Ted on many occasions and I voted for him to go to Victoria, but never as mayor. Why, you ask? I wanted him out of town, so he would stop going around with half-cocked opinions and acting like the queen of the hen house – and when the dust settles, like all politicians, do a little sidestep and hope that everyone forgets and forgives.

I have only one regret in my master plan and that is, now the whole Sea to Sky corridor must suffer.

Calen Keath

Kosugi, Japan


Skiing and riding Spirit

Our thanks to the management team at Whistler-Blackcomb who have brought skiing and riding within the budget of employees and families throughout the corridor. The $299 unlimited pass for corridor school kids might just foster a whole breed of Olympians, and the $999 Spirit Pass option should get some workaholic types back on the slopes. I speak on behalf of many who have already recognized these deals offered through Intrawest.

Strengthening the Spirit Program is another example of how resort partners are helping to achieve the common goal of value for locals and guests while supporting the resort mandate of great customer service.

Brent Leigh

Whistler Chamber of Commerce


Whistler-Blackcomb has announced prices for the 2004-2005 season, and there is something for everybody in the goodies bag, except for seniors living in Whistler.

If you are 65-74 years old a pass will cost you $659. If you are 18 and attend school in Whistler it will cost $299.

I don't begrudge the fact Whistler students are getting a $350 better deal than the seniors, many of whom built Whistler, it just doesn't seem right.

Whistler-Blackcomb however, feels if you can still schuss around the mountains, at age 75 (there are a handful who do), you can purchase a pass for $99. Now that's a deal! Still not as good as Vail, Aspen, Squaw Valley, etc.

There is little doubt Whistler is dominated by young people who ski, board, bike and hike. But it is the old-timers who live here that made it happen. They deserve a better deal, not only on the mountains, but at the community centre where they're also the "forgotten fogies."

Al Eaton



Natural gas and other options

The article headlined "Terasen Gas makes application for pipeline" (Pique, Sept. 3), which I’m assuming is based on information provided by Terasen Gas, states that B.C. Hydro – due to system constraints – will not be in a position to help meet Whistler’s future growth in heating needs. The article also says reducing energy demand is difficult and implies, based on Terasen’s resource plan, that the only options for meeting Whistler’s future heating needs include natural gas, propane, compressed natural gas, or liquefied natural gas. Unlike the "limited option" message derived from Terasen, my message is "there are other options."

First off, fossil fuels are not and will never be long-term sustainable sources of energy, due to increased demand and limited supplies. In the short term however, natural gas, the cleaner of the two major options presented by Terasen, will have some environmental and human health benefits. Although assuming that Whistler encourage all new development towards natural gas, as Terasen has, will likely cause these short term benefits to be erased by rising emissions. In addition, future prices are very uncertain as we enter the age of global natural gas trading.

Secondly, B.C. Hydro is likely upgrading its system in Whistler anyway to meet the growing electricity needs in the community; so it will be an option for heating. This option, however, probably best serves single residences and depends on the source of new electricity, green (wind, solar, some hydro, biogas, biomass) or brown (fossil fuel based).

Thirdly, there are many options of renewable heat energy systems for larger projects, such as the new geo-exchange systems in the Nita Lake Lodge and the Beaver Flats housing project. Another option is a community greenhouse-gas neutral wood chip electricity/heat plant similar to the one just announced in Revelstoke B.C.

Fourthly, the greenest and possibly the most financially rewarding, demand side management of heat through building and system retrofits are very feasible as demonstrated at the Chateau, Legends, and Whistler-Blackcomb. Even better, are new building designs for energy efficiency such as Rod Nadeau’s low energy townhouse project currently underway in Pemberton.

In short, there are other options; plenty of them. If we want the right direction, natural gas, others, or combinations, we will need to filter results from desperately required detailed energy scenarios through our Comprehensive Sustainability Plan decision making questions: Does it move us in our desired direction? Is it flexible to further improvements? Does it provide an adequate rate of return?

Dan Wilson



I’m writing in response to last Friday’s labour shortage article "Facing the Storm". This spring I completed a post graduate research project on recruitment and retention in Whistler’s tumultuous labour environment. The results of this project confirmed that Whistler has a serious challenge ensuring adequate skilled workers in the future, a challenge that can not merely be overcome by stock options or targeting a different demographic group.

The Whistler workforce environment is somewhat unique. The majority of the pool of available labour is from "elsewhere", typically young people taking a break in schooling. Most plan to stay for less than a year and are here for the recreational opportunities and the social aspects of Whistler. The most desired attribute of an employer is flexibility so that workers can go skiing/boarding/biking etc. Ski pass and decent wages tied for second. The most desirable jobs tended to be outdoor based, such as ski instructor or guide. Not exactly the workforce you’d find in a major urban centre like Vancouver or Toronto.

To attract and retain skilled workers in Whistler, the community needs to remain committed to the sustainability process and continue to foster learning opportunities. Employers need to be more flexible, abandon the more traditional mindset of "this is the way it’s always been done" and become organizations committed to continuous improvement. This makes resources like the Go2 and the Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism invaluable.

Once workers have been hired, and are trained in the skills needed, it is important to keep them with your company. While retention of workers is dependent on a number of factors, it has been found that poor retention can be attributed to three main categories:

• low compensation;

• faulty or inadequate hiring practices; and

• poor management.

In Whistler, the compensation issue is directly linked to affordable living. Workers whom I surveyed cited Whistler’s high cost of living as the single biggest reason for leaving the community. Low wages, coupled with layoffs during shoulder seasons don’t provide an incentive to stay around. These issues are best addressed by employers and by the community through initiatives like the Whistler, It's Our Future planning process .

Poor hiring or promotional decisions also lead to turnover. The more a person’s skills, interests and core values match the organization’s needs and values, the more likely they are to remain with the company and perform to a high level. Since it is possible to train for skills, hiring for attitude that matches the needs and values becomes imperative. A shift in mind-set is needed as many of the Whistler employers I talked with tended to place an emphasis on skills and ignored attitude entirely. The practice of hiring "warm bodies for today" will not provide the management leadership needed tomorrow.

Once hired, the relationship with management is what often determines whether an employee stays and excels or leaves. Managers are needed who are able to set clear expectations, provide resources to do the job, be respectful, give opportunities to excel, and finally, care for employees as people. They also need to be able to meet the different needs of a workforce that spans several generations while conducting a profitable business. It is up to employers to promote skill development and lifelong learning for their management teams, to ensure good management practices throughout the company, which ultimately result in retention and satisfaction of all employees, and a better working environment.

There is no quick fix solution to Whistler’s labour force challenge. It will only come through Whistler employers being willing to evolve to meet that challenge and through the support of initiatives like the Whistler sustainability process and the Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism.

Peter Lawrie



I disagree with the idea of putting any form of median on the Sea to Sky Highway. Whether a grassy centre median, which means widening to accommodate it, or a solid barrier, it effectively makes sections of this highway into single lane.

While it might prevent head-on accidents, a single vehicle accident on it would force all traffic in both directions to stop to allow emergency vehicles to attend.

I believe that most accidents are caused by a driver's inattention. Whether drunk, overtired from too much skiing, reaching for the coffee, or just turning his or her head to talk to the passengers, this momentary inattention can, and does bring their car across the centre line, or off the side of the road.

Rumble strips have been put in on some sections to make drivers aware they are getting near the edge. My suggestion would be to rumble strip the entire centre line, whether single or double. Hitting these strips would instantly bring the driver back to full attention, enabling them to regain control. Evenly spaced, or unevenly spaced, and projecting about eight inches into the travelled portion both ways, they would present no hazard to normal travel, and would certainly alert those who overdrive some of the corners. They would also considerably rattle the drivers who insist on passing on a double line.

Cost would be nominal, they could be installed as sections are re-paved, and they would not impede police, fire or ambulance vehicles getting to an accident scene.

Having hit some rumble strips on some American roads, I can assure you that you are much more alert after doing so.

It is too simple a method of preventing accidents for Victoria to be interested. Run it past your readers, have them deliberately run over some of the rumble strips already installed, and see how quickly they react.

With the amount of traffic that will be headed your way in 2010, there is lots of time to have them installed.

Don Currie

North Vancouver


Hold the (Rotary) phone

The Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium wishes to thank everyone in Whistler who has dropped off cell phones for the Charitable Recycling Program. Because of your efforts we have so far saved 420 cell phones and chargers from the landfill site.

Charitable Recycling will in turn give the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium $1 per cell phone received, regardless of age and condition. Some of these cell phones will be refurbished and given to those in need of emergency communication or with economic necessities. Others are re-distributed in less developed countries where the cost of a new phone is often prohibitive. Those that cannot be used are recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.

So please don’t put yesterday’s phones into tomorrow’s landfills.

This is an on-going project so if you still have a few old phones (chargers, batteries and manuals, too) please drop them off at Boston Pizza, Whistler Audio Visual at either Function Junction or at Nesters Plaza or at the Whistler Question office above the TD bank and in Pemberton at Paperworks. The Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium wishes to thank these businesses for their assistance with this program.

And we would also like to give a special thanks to Whistler-Blackcomb – gosh, you do find a lot of phones – and the RMOW – gosh, you use a lot of phones – for the extra large donations.

And we would like to give a special thanks to Rick Clare at Whistler One Hour Photo for taking the cameras and miscellaneous plastic items for refurbishing or recycling.

Please keep up your great recycling efforts!

Margi McGraw

Bill Janyk

Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium


This letter is for Scotty Green "long time local of 23 years."

Yeah, like that's important information!

After 23 years have you not noticed the rapid unchecked devastation of this valley?

After 23 years how many of your awesome friends have moved on?

After 23 years can you still rent out your two homes easily?

After 22 years I am moving my family out of here. It would seem that after 23 years you have come to take things too personally around here!

Enjoy life simply.

Guillermo Bright



I would like to say a very big "thank you" to Rob Whitton of the Whistler fire brigade and one of the local R.C.M.P officers (whom I do not know).

I was recently caught in a traffic jam at Green Lake, where there had been an accident on the 1st of September. I had no idea how long we would be in the traffic jam for but I knew my nine-week old son would only be able to last about five more minutes before he would have a complete melt-down from hunger. (Babies really can't wait for their dinner's.)

No sooner had I had this thought and Jacob began to let it rip. There really was nowhere for me to pull over as the barricade was in the way. So, as much as I could I pulled over to the shoulder of the road, put my hazard lights on, jumped in the passenger side of the vehicle and breastfed my baby.

Now , of course it would be Murphy’s Law, no sooner had I done this and the traffic began to move, only now, they also had to detour around me!

After the fire truck and the RCMP had left the scene of the accident I was surprised to see a fire-truck pull up behind me. When Rob came to my vehicle and saw the situation he kindly assisted the traffic around my vehicle. I really appreciated this as it is not easy being a new, sleep-deprived mother who of course can't bear to hear her baby cry!

Once again, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.

Rhiannon Rees.



Thank-You, to the lady who called to tell me that Sally had been struck by a car.

To the two gentleman that were with sally and had started emergency first aid.

To Whistler Fire.

To Whistler ambulance.

To Whistler Health Centre.

To the gentleman who offered to drive me to emergency.

And to everyone else who helped.

Sally is making a full recovery.

Thank you again.

Richard Johnson