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2010: A Sustainable Odyssey I am writing in support of the amount of recent First Nations’ activities taking place within Whistler. Most recently, this being the Winter Weetema Festival.

2010: A Sustainable Odyssey

I am writing in support of the amount of recent First Nations’ activities taking place within Whistler. Most recently, this being the Winter Weetema Festival. It is exciting to see more Lil`Wat, Squamish and other First Nations Peoples share their vast and rich heritage in such a high profile destination.

In the wake of the IOC’s visit, I was very pleased to see the partnerships between the First Nations governments, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the corporate community and the provincial government. Creating certainty for all British Columbians is not only an absolute necessity for business development, but also because it is the right thing to do.

The British Columbia Capacity Initiative Council is entrusted with the responsibility to help First Nations generate enhanced capacity through comprehensive visioning and operational planning and development, and increased land and resource management. The process we have followed has always entailed partnerships with corporate stakeholders and has been a key element to our success in fostering "profitable certainty." In the last five years, we have helped over 275 regional and individual First Nations organizations and governing bodies attain increased knowledge, negotiating ability and greater technical know-how over their, and our, resources.

Anyone can see that progress requires forward momentum and is critically needed within the treaty process today more than ever – which is why Squamish and Lil`wat Nations should be commended for their innovation. They have decided to bridge the geo-political gap by working "outside the box" and moving forward with co-managed partnerships that will solidify greater economic benefit for their members for some time to come.

Of course one could always argue that achieving sustainability is never easy and often creates imbalance within communities. From a traditional economic point of view, much of First Nations’ beliefs, value systems and traditions are based within this modus operandi . It is the "lens" in which we perceive our world and how we interact within it. My perception is that with nearly 60-65 per cent of the Aboriginal population under the age of 25 and a shrinking social net, the way of the future is a balanced approach that incorporates a sustainable economy with small business development. Modern problems often require modern solutions and one should ride the horse in the direction it’s going. Creating tomorrow’s legacies means training and preparation today. It would be nice to see Whistler, British Columbia, federal and First Nations governing bodies continue to forge ahead and equip this large and eager workforce with the tools they need to write the next chapter.

Justin W. Wilson

Board member, B.C. Capacity Initiative Council


A lesson about respect during a time of grief

Re: Mr. Blakemore's letter (Pique March14)

If the purpose of your letter was to upset all my dear "local" friends, then the purpose has been served. Your letter regarding the unfortunate death of a great man named Dave Sheets was extremely arrogant. I sincerely believe in the ethic of safe skiing. I have been living in Whistler for 20 years and never read a letter as condemning as yours, and I’ve never collided with anyone while skiing. See, I ski with care being aware of my own environment.

Dave has paid a very high price for his misfortune. In times of accidents blaming the parties involved serves no purpose. We can only learn from mishaps. We all have tried to understand the meaning of his death. I for one believe the opposite of your attitude toward Dave's judgement on that day.

How can you automatically blame Dave for what happened? Who was really out of control and skied without being aware of his own environment? I have my own answer to those questions and do not see the point in blaming others for the death of a friend. This was a freak accident. I thank the lord for at least saving the life of one of the victims. I only deeply wished Dave could have survived as well. A young man has paid a very high price for his misjudgement. You have neglected to notice it takes two to create a collision. This time both "local" and "tourist" were at fault. Mother Nature does not discriminate skiers the way you do. We are all welcome to enjoy the mountains no matter where we come from, and we are all responsible for our own safety.

For you to assume our community "should" be there to serve tourists only, think again. The "locals" are the ones who make your precious little holidays in Whistler a reality. Us "locals" have had to endure looking at our town grow a lot faster and bigger than we all thought possible. Us "locals" have had to struggle with the ever-growing daily skier visits. We have never condemned tourism. That is why we all have chosen to live in a ski resort and serve our guests to the best of our capabilities.

Which brings me to the last point I would like to clarify for everyone's sake. You seem to be very quick at judging our great ski patrollers. Shame on you! If you were ever in need of help, all these underpaid, over stressed, dedicated patrollers will be at your side in seconds, bringing with them the greatest knowledge of first aid ever possible. Your ignorance made me wonder if a reply to your words and thoughts were worth my efforts. Then I thought of all the people you have insulted and could not resist.

Why do you think all those patrollers do hang out in the patrol room while there is 20cm of fresh stuff to ski out there? Only to be at your service as quickly as possible. To rectify your assumptions of us "locals" being careless, just pay a visit to our local emergency department at the health centre. You will very easily notice who is keeping the staff extremely busy. Not us "locals."

Anyhow, I refuse to lower myself to your level Mr. Blakemore. I suggest you go for a long walk in your local green areas and send some prayers to the Sheets family and all Dave's friends. We have suffered a great deal since the loss of one of our greatest "locals." May the lords of the world bring back some humble thoughts to your arrogance, and may your bad karma never affect us "locals."

Please take some time to remember why we are all put on this earth. None of us are any different, special, or above all.

Not us "locals" or even you "tourists."

Helen Caron



After reading the latest edition of the Pique, and in particular, the letter from Mr. David M. Blakemore, I feel a reply from a neutral observer is warranted.

First of all, Mr. David M. Blakemore, if you would bother to read the Alpine Skiers Responsibility Code, you would be surprised to know that stopping underneath this knoll which you refer to, is, as, if I may steal a reference from your letter, deploring. I can only assume that the skier in question, was skiing not only very slowly, (on a blue run of course), but stopped in a blind spot.

Having said this, how dare you use this tragedy to Whistler residents and many, many close friends of Dave to prove a point that can be proved by other means and at a more appropriate time. You assume way too many things, and I find it incomprehensible that anyone can write such a letter at a time when wounds are so fresh.

At the same time, I resent the Pique for allowing this letter to be printed when you are all aware of the hurt souls in the village of Whistler.

David M. Blakemore, please feel free to come see us Whistler residents, who provide for the "visitors this resort is run for." We will be sure to ski conservatively and provide nothing but A1 service, because you know that's the only reason I'm here.

Kenny Burns



Ignorance is not bliss

What kind of cold-hearted coward writes a letter to a local paper in a town he doesn't even live in, and criticizes one of our dearly departed? Maybe Dave Sheets made a mistake, maybe not. In either case, he paid a high price and for Mr. Blakemore to suggest that we condemn Dave's actions while Whistler is still mourning is absolutely ludicrous! Sheets was a well liked and respected person in this community and for Mr. Blakemore to use this towns' loss as a soapbox is very bad taste and is fuelled by ignorance.

Mr. Blakemore should try living here for a year before suggesting that "Whistler-Blackcomb should be run for the visitors…" Wake up! Where the heck has he been? Maybe he should try and find housing here one winter when most of it is set-aside for "the visitors." He could try working for low wages and paying a premium for such luxuries as food and clothing. Maybe Mr. Blakemore should have been here at the beginning of this season with no money, no work, and having to rely on food from the food bank. Then, if that wasn't enough, to be told after the first big snowfall that mountain staff can't go up the mountain because they are saving the snow for seasons pass holders and "visitors."

I wonder if he took the time to realize that maybe there is a shortage of Mountain Safety and Ski Patrol (in his opinion) because they can't afford to stay here or there is nowhere for them to live. This is mainly due to the fact that a lot of renters accommodate "visitors" first.

I guess Mr. Blakemore hasn't stayed with us during one of the special weeks we set aside for our visitors. Lets see, there's Christmas Break, Altitude Week, Brotherhood Week, President's Week, Spring Break, Easter and the list goes on until almost every week in our winter calendar is full with special things for our "visitors." If he had been here he would see Whistler-Blackcomb staff bending over backwards to help people. He would also see Mountain Safety and Ski Patrol working non-stop to keep the slopes as safe as possible.

I understand Mr. Blakemore's concerns but I'm pretty sure there are just as many low speed, beginner/intermediate accidents as there are high-speed ones. Everyone needs to abide by the Alpine Responsibility Code, from beginners to advanced skiers and riders. By the way, it's not just locals skiing fast on the blue runs, "out-of-towners" do it too. But there is no use pointing fingers as we all have made mistakes on the mountain.

I think, for him to pass judgement on someone who is no longer with us is weak and unkind. Mr. Blakemore could have made his point without a mention of Dave Sheets.

I wonder how he would feel if we publicly criticized his loved one in The Seattle Times just to make a sensationalized point.

We love visitors in this town, just not the thoughtless ones.

Angie Nolan



In response to David Blakemore’s letter (Pique, March 14):

Not having been at the scene of the accident you speak of, I find it outrageous that you would make presumptions about the incident that resulted in Dave Sheets’ death. You also seem to base your commentary on the presumptive and false logic that all out-of-towners are nervous intermediate skiers, and all locals are aggressive experts.

Coming to Whistler as a tourist doesn't give you the right to proselytise to the community, the newspaper, the mountain staff or experienced skiers about the Alpine Responsibility Code. Dave Sheets was a member of this community whose loss is felt deeply. You, Mr. Blakemore, are not. You come here as a guest, a visitor. Where I come from, a guest receives hospitality. They do not dictate its terms.

If you find the mountain too busy, you are always welcome to ski elsewhere. Or write a letter to Whistler-Blackcomb and suggest their aspirations of servicing 3 million skier visits a year may not be "sustainable." But I suggest you work on your sensitivity skills, and avoid using a person's accidental death as an excuse to stand on your soapbox.

Lisa Richardson



This letter was addressed to MLA Ted Nebbeling. A copy was forwarded to Pique Newsmagazine.

I wish to lend my voice to the rest of my neighbours in Whistler who like me, are breaking under the crushing inequalities of our provincial/municipal property taxes. In particular the school tax which is much too high in comparison to what others in the corridor pay. This situation has been in place for many years and our compliance has been largely due to Canadian lethargy, but now it is no longer tolerable as I see all my other taxes and fees going up across the board.

This year I understand my residential taxes will spike two fold: 1) from yet another increase in school and general taxes and 2) hugely, because of my loss of the home-owner grant because the assessed value of my house has crossed a government threshold.

The loss of the home owner grant is a very unfair penalty. I have done nothing wrong. But merely because I continue to live where I have since 1995 while others around me have sold, "the market" pegs my house value at a level that triggers increased financial burden.

This mechanism ignores the human element of a community and focuses on capital values instead. It is this human core that is leaving, gutting the pool of long term residents that are the character of any community. Premier Campbell talks of the "tipping point" in his plan where pain turns to benefit in his course of management. A reverse tipping point is occurring in Whistler where stable residents are fed up and leaving – tired of being the tax mules for the region. I watched a similar thing happen in Vancouver in the ’80s and ’90s where elderly people who had lived in their homes for 30 and 40 years were forced to move as market-based taxes forced them out. These neighbourhoods changed forever, morphing into streets lined with empty shelled, Asian mansions.

I hear of the dilemma in Victoria regarding the optics of granting any tax cut to Whistler (regarded as a rich community). But this is not a tax cut, it is reversal of a tax grab that has been in effect for years. And granting immunity against the loss of home owner grants is not benefiting absentee vacation home owners but solely those who have worked hard to own their own home. We chose to live here long before the rest of the world woke up and exerted high demand on the real estate.

I support the Liberals and realize that we have much fiscal repair to do after the NDP – but you must use fair and equal taxation. Ours is not. I ask you to tax us fairly and equitably. I also ask that you reinstate the home owner grant for those of us who continue to live and work in a community that is very vulnerable to outside trends, myths and clandestine planning.

We’ve all worked hard to build an economic engine that contributes a great deal to the provincial economy, part of that is the positive attitude that we share with those who visit and are thus encouraged to come back.

There will be less of our smiling faces around for 2010 unless the current taxation situation for Whistler residents is made equal to residents of the other towns in this region.

Dave Harkley,



Re: Back-entry boots and remarks by G.D. Maxwell

I have been skiing since 1927, and ever since Edward Scott invented double-tapered Scott ski polls and back-entry boots. I find the back-entry boots very comfortable and easy to get into. I guess people still wear five-buckle boots to keep the blood from going to their brains.

By the time you buckle up your five-buckle boots I’ll have had my first run on Whistler – first tracks enjoying the fresh powder snow.

Come on Maxwell, at least keep your opinion on boots to yourself, for there are thousands of dudes still wearing back-entry boots and many medals have been won by skiers with back-entry boots.

Sandy Martin

Whistler/Pitt Meadows


I am writing this letter out of grief for the loss of our golden retriever who was hit by a white cargo truck on Monday, March 17 at approximately 11:30 a.m. The accident occurred on the Meadows Road just outside The Bluffs west of the village.

To the driver of the truck who failed to stop and fled the scene, I thought maybe you would like to know his name was Chico, an eight-month old retriever who will be sorely missed. He lies in our front yard now, overlooking the Meager.

In times like this it is hard to make sense of our actions and try to learn from it and move on. I think for us we can only be comforted by the fact he was killed instantly and did not suffer.

Chico is not the real tragedy here, he is just the messenger of a possible future we can all avoid by just slowing down as we drive this dangerous road.

Colin Horn



Re: Golden arches signal changing face of Pemberton

I guess every growing face gets its share of blemishes... McDonald's being the first on that of Pemberton. It's a shame that the arrival of a McDonald's is considered progress by some. I could go on, but I recommend checking out for interesting reading.

Shannon Ellis



Re Jayson Faulkner’s letter (Faith restored, Pique, March 14)

In the first part of your letter you pay Mr. Campbell out for dressing like a "geek." Citing his (gasp) Columbia jacket and (snicker) Far West pants as proof that he is desperately "out of sync." Yet you then go on to lament about what he has done to the environment vis-a-vis his environmental policies. Claiming that it will be our government who is to blame when we become an environmental wasteland by the year 2010. I have to ask, can you not see the paradox here?

Can you tell me exactly where you think the plastic for a new set of front entry boots comes from? All the synthetic material involved in keeping the fashion ski police at bay comes at the expense of our environment, most often from non-renewable natural resources. Even those synthetics that are made with recycled fleece and the like require natural resources to be converted into your ‘all Whistler,’ ‘all stylin’ ski wear. Have you ever stopped to think when you pick up that end of season sale shirt, just how many pesticides were dumped into the ecosystem on your behalf? How many fields were cleared of their natural ecosystem, turned into a barren monoculture to supply you your funky slogan and logo T-shirt collection? How much fossil fuel was burned to deliver them, with a smile, into your plastic shopping bag? Showing that one has "taste and savvy" by being a fashion slave does not come without a hefty environmental price tag. The worst ill affecting this straining planet is the rampant, insatiable, unrelenting consumerism of the Western world, and it seems to be continuing without the slightest acknowledgement from those who perpetuate it.

I am not a fan of Mr. Campbell's; I especially am not a fan of his environmental polices. But I must point out that to espouse consumerism as a necessity of keeping up with the IOC Joneses and in the same breath blaming "the government" for the state of the environment.... well that is a little short of the mark. See, it takes more than sorting your trash and requesting a coffee sleeve rather than a whole other cup when placing your order at Starbucks. Yes friend, it is you and I who will make the biggest difference in saving this planet. In the end it is the all mighty buck that will decide the fate of our planet, so you might as well keep that buck in your pocket because that vote speaks louder than any other.

It is a sign of the times when not even the re-use-it centre will accept skis or sports equipment older than two years. How can I even begin to explain how wasteful this is? People need to realize environmental accountability starts at home. No one needs a new ski wardrobe every second season (or third or fourth or even fifth). New skis every season will not make you a better skier, but using them for a number of years will make you a better environmental citizen! I saw no holes in Mr. Campbell's clothing; they did not look thread bare. I have to say that if for nothing else I do respect the guy for not going out and dropping a bundle on new gear, then dropping the bundle of old gear in the trash.

I have to say that my family would likely not live up to Jayson’s standards. We wear a lot of thrift store specials. My kids wear hand me downs, home sewn clothes, Value Village treasures, you name it. We sew a lot of what we need out of "green" fabric (organic, hemp, reclaimed, socially conscious etc.) so you are not likely to find a "leading apparel brand" name in our closet. And yes, I must confess, we even wear things that are no longer "in style." But don't you worry about us, because though it may be hard to believe all this makes us proud as hell! North Face, Nike, Bula... well I am pretty confident that I can still look funky without ’em. Sure it injures my ex-ski racer pride a tad to ruck up to the lift in the outfit I got my last year of racing (yes this was over 13 years ago), but it still fits, it still keeps me warm. To go out and buy a new one just because some might consider it a fashion crime, well that would fly in the face of my sense of environmental responsibility.

So laugh at me if you will, call me a "geek" or a "rube." But if you want to talk to me about environment accountability, don't do so in this year’s latest fashions. It kind of makes it seem like you can't see the dwindling forest for its sacred trees.

Bernice Raabis