Letters to the Editor for the week of April 20th 

  • Photo by Justa Jeskova/Mike Crane Photography

Thank you, Whistler  

Watermark Communications, Inc. has been privileged to manage the World Ski and Snowboard Festival for 11 years and I have been privileged to be part of the festival for 18 events.

This festival built by Doug Perry has been a reflection of the Whistler community, its culture and its people, and Watermark has always strived to honour its roots.

Thank you to all the people who have contributed to it over its history — the volunteers, the athletes, the artists, the musicians — without you this event could not exist.

And to the Watermark team, this year's, and all the WSSF teams before that I was so honoured to be part of — you all inspired and motivated me — your intelligence, passion and work ethic are irreplaceable. 

To the sponsors, both local and national, who have contributed to make this festival big and free — thank-you.  

To the Whistler community — it's always been about you for our team. We all know what a special place we live in and have wanted to share it with the world to the benefit of the community.  

I believe the festival will continue strong, for it's never been about the people that manage it, it's about the athletes, artists, musicians and cultural icons that breathe life into it.

This is your festival. 

Sue Eckersley
Watermark Communications Inc.

WB salutes Watermark for WSSF

For the past 11 years, the team at Watermark Communications Inc., led by Sue Eckersley, has worked tirelessly to make the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) an important cultural celebration; one that has become a significant part of Whistler's unique identity.

On behalf of Whistler Blackcomb, I would like to thank Sue and her team for, yet again, pulling off an amazing WSSF.

Sue has brought passion to the job every year she has worked on WSSF and it's never more apparent than when a challenge arises.

Her ingenuity and ability to execute creative solutions on the fly are what has made WSSF a success for the nearly 20 years she has been involved. She will be sorely missed and has left big shoes to fill.

To the artists at State of the Art, the athletes, the volunteers, the musical talent at the Outdoor Concert Series, the roller derby competitors, the storytellers at Multiplicity, the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown, the Pro Photographer Showdown and Intersection, and everyone else who made WSSF 2017 so memorable, congratulations on a fantastic year.

Once again, thank you Sue and Watermark Communications Inc. for all of your hard work and dedication over the years. 

Dave Brownlie
Chief Operating Officer at Whistler Blackcomb

Thank you, Sue!

On behalf of Tourism Whistler, we would like to thank Sue Eckersley, of Watermark Communications Inc., for her passion and commitment to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF).

After more than a decade in the role of event manager (and many years prior to that as a lead member of the WSSF team), Sue is stepping down from the helm of WSSF, with the 2017 festival being the last under her management.

Sue leaves very large shoes to fill.

For more than a decade, Sue has been the driving force behind WSSF, confirming it as the epic winter season-end celebration of sport, music and art — the ultimate reflection of Whistler's mountain culture — which its throng of fans have come to know and love.

Originally the brainchild of Doug Perry, WSSF was born out of the 1996 World Technical Skiing Championships, funded with seed money by co-owners Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain and Tourism Whistler. The event has grown and flourished with the further support of sponsors and provincial Resort Municipality Initiative funding.

With its exciting music line up, on-mountain sporting events, and sell-out cultural favourites such as the photographer and filmmaker showdowns, WSSF has become a vital economic driver in April when most ski resorts have closed for the season. In addition, WSSF draws positive media attention for Whistler, helping to share the Whistler story nationally and internationally. And finally, the festival is enjoyed and supported by the local community.

Despite ebbs and flows of global economic conditions, Sue has never faltered in her support of WSSF and it is because of this unwavering commitment that WSSF has continued to thrive.

Coming off one of the best WSSFs ever, we would like to congratulate Sue and her talented team on their many, many achievements producing this robust festival.

The team at Tourism Whistler looks forward to a continued strong relationship with Sue and the Watermark team through Cornucopia, Tourism Whistler's food and wine festival in November.

Thank you, Sue, for your ongoing devotion, energy and loyalty — both to WSSF, and to the community of Whistler!

Barrett Fisher
President and CEO, Tourism Whistler

Got ticket but no seat

My husband and I arrived at the start of 72hr Filmmaker Showdown as the event started (during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival).

No seats left. The walls were lined with people so (there wasn't even) room to lean against a wall. We awkwardly stood around the bar area, but were continually told by servers that we were in the way (and rightly so).

After an hour of standing and trying to watch the films, it was apparent we actually couldn't stay anymore — not that we wanted to stand another few hours, so we left at intermission.

Buy a $31.35 ticket — get a seat. No seat — return the money.

I (have) posted my complaint on the WSSF Facebook page (and) they responded with an apology and said to contact Watermark for a solution. I have yet to hear back from Watermark.

We wished we could have enjoyed the show — it certainly has been fun in the past.

Marni Shuster

Basketful of thanks

Hundreds of families came out for the eigth annual Community Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 15. It was a fun-filled morning full of egg hunting, meeting the Easter Bunny, designing Easter bonnets, and dancing to Ira Pettle's tunes, not to mention the limbo!

Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Council (PAC) would like to thank everyone involved in making this event a wonderful success. The Easter Egg Hunt is all about our community — from the little kids who attend to the volunteers who organize it.

We would like to thank all our community donors who helped us in our fundraising efforts: the local businesses who donated to the silent auction and raffle, and the businesses who donated to the BBQ and bake sale.

A special thanks to Ira for keeping us entertained and to the Easter Bunny for making a guest appearance.

We would also like to recognize the Grade 6/7 Myrtle Philip students who painted little faces, set up tables, swept floors, handed out chocolate eggs, manned the cash stations at the BBQ, all with smiles on their faces!

Another special thanks goes out to the Whistler Fire Rescue Service, in particular Dennis Van Dongen who directed traffic at the school, and Jeff Drenka who manned the BBQ. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Alison Robb
PAC Liaison

Action needed on Slumlords

I arrived at work yesterday and heard another housing-issue story. I am sure that you are all sick to the back of your teeth about the housing crisis in Whistler, like we are.

However, it is a very serious issue and one that seems to be getting worse at an alarming rate. Now I can sit here and blame the municipality for not attacking the issue head on, or I could say Airbnb is to blame. But I personally think that there are a number of factors contributing to the issue — none of which are being addressed in an urgent manner.  I think there needs to be some naming and shaming of these landlords that are capitalizing on the crisis. The young lady (I spoke to) yesterday is desperate for a place to stay and will probably end up leaving town when her lease is up. She told me of a couple of houses in Emerald and Alpine (neighbourhoods) that she viewed. They were $800 a bed, three beds per room, and eight bedrooms. Cash only, and some of the beds were in loft spaces.

There has to be an issue with over occupancy and fire safety. Why not think about doing a story on these people — the slumlords in paradise.  

We have staff living in cars and leaving town because of this crisis. The percentage of Whistlerites (leaving) is increasing and (the number of) people that settle (here) is decreasing. This makes it so incredibly difficult to have a successful business that is customer-experience based.  I heard that a plan was put in place to tackle Airbnb, but really, what has happened? Almost nothing. People are cash grabbing at the cost of local housing.

The flip side is that often houses get trashed by a young crowd, so I can see why some landlords don't want to rent long term.

Overall though, I think this issue is not being addressed. Squeezing three per room and collecting $230,400 a year in rent, all cash, is insane.

Michael Robinson

Gratitude for our community

We would like to express our gratitude to the incredible network of people who made up our Sea to Sky "palliative support team" (as we remember Pamela Casserly-Reynolds, wife, mother and grandmother).When our mother retired to Pemberton with our father just under two years ago, it was to be nestled in the mountains and surrounded by the rivers, lakes and trees. It was also to feel again a strong sense of community that can so easily be lost in big city life.

Pamela wished to live out her remaining years enjoying nature, music and friendships in a beautiful and peaceful rural setting, and this she found in Pemberton. Unfortunately, her time here was shorter than we all expected, imagined and had hoped for. (She) passed away on Feb. 9, 2017 surrounded by her loving husband and daughters.In her final months, Pamela expressed often how comfortable and comforted she was in her surroundings and how supported she felt with all her "palliative support team" at Lions Gate Hospital and here in Pemberton. Even into the final days, she looked forward to the nurses' and doctors' visits and was reassured and at peace with even the most difficult news due to the care and understanding offered by the wonderful people in this community. Our family would like to thank all the doctors, nurses, OTs, caregivers and other medical staff of this community who supported her and our family in Pam's final months.

Thanks to Dr. Finnegan and Dr. Sugar, Nurses Lynne, Francesca and Natasha, OT Anita and everyone else involved (I know I have missed a few names), your kindness and support allowed our mom to be at home, as was her wish, with her family until her passing.

From the medical staff caring for her, to the neighbours shovelling our driveway and our colleagues and friends offering us their support, we truly felt the spirit of our supportive community. We will be forever grateful to everyone in our lives, and to Pamela herself, who made this difficult time gentle, graceful and peaceful. 

With heartfelt gratitude,

Mollianne, William and Carabeth Reynolds and family

Two ski seasons = one ton of solutions

Earth Day comes around every year to remind us of our place in nature (April 22). As skiers, we're especially committed to protecting wild places. We are lucky to have the time and money to slide on snow for fun, and we know it. Ski Heaven is on a mission to eliminate sports equipment from the landfill. Every piece is a symbol of our deeper environmental value, and our understanding that we need to invest in protecting what we love.

Ski Heaven has already removed one metric tonne of waste from the landfill by upcycling it into art and furniture. We're pretty happy about that. But we're just getting started.Much more can be done, and we're working tirelessly to create innovative mountain art. Do you have a stash of old skis taking up space in your garage, but you just don't have the heart to toss them in the garbage? Bring your adventure stories to life and help keep a mountain of ski waste out of the environment.

Ullr will reward you.

Randi Kruse

Renowned authors support Armchair Books

On Saturday, April 29, more than 400 authors will join forces with independent bookstores across Canada for the third annual Authors for Indies Day, a grassroots event organized in support of Canada's independent bookstores. Whistler's Armchair Books is a runaway winner this year, hosting four knock-out authors for the day: Susan Juby, winner of the 2016 Leacock Medal for Humour (Republic of Dirt); Stella Harvey (The Brink of Freedom), founder of Whistler's writers group a.k.a. Vicious Circle and last year's Whistler writer-in-residence; Janie Change (Dragon Springs Road) one of the original founders of Authors for Indies; and Susan Oakley-Baker (Finding Jim), an author, painter, and guide who works and lives in Whistler.   Book lovers are invited to visit Armchair Books to meet these authors, buy books and have them signed, and celebrate the vital role of independent bookstores in our community.

Indie bookstores build community, make for great spots to hang out, celebrate literary diversity and serve as that place where anyone can go and experience the stories of our lives as CanadiansThanks for your support.

Karen J. Lee

On our way to Europe!

Our Whistler/Pemberton Girl Guides would like to send a big thank you  to Creekbread Pizza for hosting our fundraiser and donating a portion of their pizza revenues.

We would also like to send a big thank you to our business community, which donated so generously to our silent auction event.

We can't list all your business names here, but hope that you received our personalized thank-you cards from all the girls.

This was our most successful fundraiser so far!

Our girls are also out busy selling cookies, as each girl needs to raise $4,600 over two years to go on a three-week trip to Europe in July 2018.

The girls will be attending a Scout camp, participating in a service project, meeting girls from other countries, learning about new cultures, and eating different foods! 

Nancy Knapton

Halt the harvest to pink salmon

The Squamish to Lillooet Sport Fish Advisory Committee (SL-SFAC) (feels) that there is minimal evidence that supports the sustainable harvest of pink salmon returning to the Squamish River in 2017. The economic benefit, as well as the ecological benefit, to the area is much greater than the value to the commercial fishery.

Flood Events: There were five major flood events with gravel movement between September 2015 and January 2016 where the Squamish River had over 700 centimetre flows.  These events were at a critical time in the development of the young salmon and it is safe to say many were lost.

Escapements: Spawning escapements do not support a harvest. Spawning escapements measured in the outmigration of pink fry in the spring of 2016, were 25 per cent to 30 per cent of what the numbers were in 2014 and 2012.  This is coming from data that is taken by BC Hydro Rotary Screw Trap that has been run on the Cheakamus River. These escapement numbers agree with the loss due to the gravel moving events.

Ecosystem Benefit: The salmon return to the Squamish system has a direct effect on the recovery of the grizzly bear population in the South Coast. Any large removal of pinks from the ecosystem harms this recovery.

Economic Benefit to Squamish: The return of pink salmon to the Squamish River plays a significant role in bringing tourism dollars to Squamish. Anglers come to enjoy both catch-and-release and retention fisheries when open. Those same anglers may hire a guide, purchase gear at a local shop, buy gas, food, and possibly stay overnight at one of our local accommodation providers. This is a direct injection of funds into the local economy.

We are not opposed to an opening when there are enough pinks to adequately seed the watershed, and when Department of Fisheries (DFO) has the science to back it up. 

We believe that a science-based approach to the calculation of sustainable harvest of Squamish River pinks is required. If the DFO wants to do an assessment of the pink stocks it should be done by an ocean seine where sampling is done in different areas of Howe Sound, allowing for the enumeration of the stocks without harvest similar to what is done in on the North Coast.  

We do not believe that having a pinks fishery in 2017 is congruent with DFO responsibilities to manage the stock, and we feel that by having a fishery DFO is turning assessment over to commercial interests. We also believe that the commercial vessels are incapable of following any rules regarding a fishery based on the cancellation of the last fishery due to violations. 

In summary, (we feel) that the lack of information regarding the number of pink salmon returning to the Squamish River, the economic benefit to the local economy, and the benefit to the local ecosystem and specifically the recovery of south coast Grizzly population (means that a) harvest is not in our best interest at this time and we do not support one.

Clint Goyette


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