concil_soo_letter 

The long-awaited study of what the so-called Stoltmann Wilderness would generate economically if it were made a national park is grating on the Soo Coalition For Sustainable Forests. In a Feb. 21 letter to Whistler council, Soo Coalition director M. Wallace writes: "Our position is that we see no advantage for Tourism Whistler to continue with this park initiative and that in doing so would be self serving. Continuing may seriously affect the years of co-operation between the communities in solving land and resource problems. The Resort Municipality of Whistler may be seeking the full support of adjacent communities and the Coalition in your future plans." The letter explains that Squamish Mayor Corrine Lonsdale, Pemberton Mayor Eleanor Warner, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District director Susan Gimse, Wallace and Soo Coalition director John Lowe met with Tourism Whistler President Suzanne Denbak last month to inform Denbak of the Coalition’s dissatisfaction with Tourism Whistler’s continued pursuit of federal park status. The letter goes on to say that Lonsdale, Gimse and Warner all expressed concern about the incomplete study’s analysis and that none of Squamish, Pemberton, Lions Bay or the SLRD "had been approached according to required protocol for such an initiative. Consequently neither of the communities or the regional district participated in the formulation of the ‘terms of reference’ that the consultant is working with in conducting the analysis. During the discussion on the analysis it was apparent that a very significant sector of the forest industry and the associated communities had not and have not been included in the analysis. The results, what ever they may determine are therefore seriously flawed and would not be defensible in a public forum." Pemberton and Squamish were asked to participate in the study, but declined. Councillor Ken Melamed said he found the Soo Coalition letter "fairly baseless. They’re discrediting the study before they’ve even seen the results." Mayor Hugh O’Reilly cautioned council members that "we have to build bridges, not destroy them." Councillor Nick Davies said it was "tempting to read the letter and say the Soo Coalition is posturing. But the fact of the matter is the Soo Coalition is expressing some unhappiness. This study is going to have long-term consequences, maybe we should invite them to participate again." Council finally decided to just accept the letter after administrator Jim Godfrey informed them Tourism Whistler has since responded to the letter "in a positive way, and may have given them some information they didn’t know about." The study was commissioned last August and was originally expected to be finished by September or October. Several other dates for completion of the study have been mentioned, and passed. It’s now expected some time in April. Seppo to be honoured Friday, April 28 will be Seppo Makinen Day in Whistler. A memorial plaque to Seppo will be unveiled during dedication services at the top of Seppo’s Run on Whistler Mountain at 2 p.m. on April 28. The dedication will occur during the Reunion 2000 week (April 23-30). Seppo Makinen died alone in his camper while it was parked in the day-skier lots last December. A heart attack is believed to have caused him to fall while he was in his camper and strike his head. Hypothermia then set in. School site Intrawest acquired title to the Spring Creek lands last month and has applied to subdivide the lands so that the site for an elementary school can be turned over to the school district by May 1, 2000. The school district can not obtain funding from the provincial government for the planning, design and construction of the desperately needed school until it obtains title to the site. On Monday Whistler council approved a development permit for the school site, a legal requirement before subdivision of the lands can occur. Intrawest intends to grade and service the school site this summer. The school is scheduled to open in September of 2002. In addition to the school site, subdivision will create the fire hall site and a portion of the main access road to both facilities.

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