Letter to the editor 

RE: Zen and the Art of Mixed Messages, Pique, Friday, May 4, 2001

So, here we go again, the developer versus the community. Mr. Barnett suggests that council may be standing alone in this battle to preserve the Zen wetlands, but I would disagree.

The poor turnout for the April 28 open house should not be considered an accurate reflection of the community’s stance in the argument to preserve this area. Make note of the 50-person impromptu poll by Nick Davies regarding whether or not Whistler should compromise its environmental values for employee housing. The answer was a resounding "no".

There are also the efforts going on by local interest group AWARE to preserve our remaining valley bottom wetlands. This natural treasure is not a valueless piece of swamp. As one of the last remaining valley bottom wetlands, this area potentially represents a crucial wildlife corridor, not to mention the impact this ecological system may have on our overall watershed health in an already stressed area within Whistler’s boundaries. I wish to congratulate council for their attempts to preserve the entire area.

I would like to call for support from all residents who care about their quality of life in our beautiful surroundings. Are we going to sit back and watch the remaining natural wonders of our community be wiped out piece by piece? Do we want to see another Nicklaus North development go in? (And when is the entire employee housing proposal for that area to be completed?) Is it just "another wetland"? Are we willing to compromise an extremely rare and priceless piece of remaining valley bottom wetland so that more people, like myself, have a room to rent or rather, a trailer? What will you say to your kids when you walk, ride, or drive by? "And that is where there used to be beaver, birds, black bear, and forest."

Fragmenting this piece of wilderness represents disrupting the only valley bottom greenbelt remaining in Whistler’s southern boundary. We also need to consider the impacts a development on even 20-30 per cent of the existing land would have on the health of the remaining area. An ecological system as complicated as a wetland requires a large buffer zone, well beyond the visible extent of what most people would think. For the overall integrity of the area to fully be preserved, the entire property must be left untouched, right up to the highway. This is by far the wrong location for a high density housing development. I urge everyone to walk the Zen wetlands to completely appreciate its overwhelming beauty.

There is still hope for preserving this jewel. Consider the situation with the Supreme Court’s decision in the North Vancouver case where a property was down-zoned on the basis of environmental sensitivity. We must show support for Whistler council’s actions. Do not turn your back on this opportunity to support them, no matter what lawsuits our community may face.

Wendy Horan

AWARE

Valley Bottom Sub-committee

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