Letters to the editor for the week of April 28 

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Poop pitch-in needs attention

On Saturday, April 23, it was Pitch-In Day in Whistler and, as I live in Bayshores, I was compelled to go clean up the Valley Trail heading towards Creekside.

I put on my gloves and filled up four big bags with trash, but unfortunately this didn't suffice — there was still a bag or two's worth on the Creekside side of that trail. Hopefully, someone else will be inspired by my efforts.

The most common items were drinks straws and dog poop wrapped in plastic bags.

I feel that next time people order a drink they could request not to take a straw: Who knows where it will end up? Do you really need it anyway? It's time for food and beverage establishments to move over to biodegradable straws and cut out the plastic anyway. 

More mind-boggling to me was the reasoning behind bothering to scoop your doggie poop only to leave it by the road in plastic! Apparently, plastic decomposes in 10 to 15 years and people do this because there is a shortage of poop receptacles. 

I think you would rather just leave it to decompose without the plastic. It'd be gone in a week or two then. 

Maybe people could let their dog poop and just sprinkle some soil over it to cover it up and to reduce the smell and eye-sore. They could take soil with them instead of multiple plastic bags. Perhaps there could be a few more dog poop bins installed on the Valley Trail? Just a few thoughts.

I'm not really an expert in this area but 30 poop bags in a 100-metre area seems absurd and worthy of some thought. Just imagine how many there will be in 10 to 15 years time as we wait for them to rot away slowly! That's pretty gross and there has to be a better solution, so I am opening up discussion and calling for action on this.

Natasha Mauger



When images of surfing flashed up on Whistler Blackcomb's Renaissance plan promo video I almost lost it. But what on Earth is a "deep water surf simulator?"

Surfing is moving inland and is being shortlisted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the condition it happens in a controlled, man-made environment. The technology has recently arrived and it seems about to blow up.

Surf parks are being constructed and planned all over the world. Surf Snowdonia in Wales, using the Wavegarden technology, is already experiencing success, even attracting non-surfers to enjoy a cup of tea and watch the action. Plans to develop parks in Austin, Texas and Melbourne, Australia are getting closer and closer to breaking ground. One proposal for the new Washington Redskins stadium plans to be encircled by one.

Kelly Slater almost broke the Internet last year when he unveiled his perfect "freak of technology" wave pool. Apparently it also runs on solar power. With all this technology and more coming down the pipe, the Olympics are most likely getting ready for it. Wouldn't this be more a fit for Whistler than a tiny standing wave? Hasn't the ability to host competitions built this place? Imagine bringing the world's best surfers to GO Fest and all the paying spectators that would come with them. Don't think you can cram a Crankworx-sized crowd into the watershed. Even better, imagine how quickly the local kids could make the summer Olympics.

While the American Wave Machine's SurfStream looks pretty fun, and will somewhat simulate the feeling of surfing. I think it's misleading to call them deep-water surf simulators as in every video I've seen the riders are wearing helmets because of how shallow the water is. It also seems hard to market as a destination. There are already multiple suburban locations around the world, even one planned very close to the Seattle market.

Frankly, when looking at the plans for the Surf City Waterpark in Ellensburg, Wash. it looks pretty similar to the plans for the watershed. Just a little cookie-cutter if you ask me.

In three years we might be a little behind the eight ball. Like showing up late on a powder day, better to skip that first lap through patroller trees and get right to Crystal. Best to be in front of the line than at the back jealously throwing snowballs.

I know that the real estate to create a proper surfpark could be a little challenging. But the lots up there seem to be about the perfect size. Possibly the weather would be a problem, although so far Surf Snowdonia is making do with seasonal business. I went for a swim yesterday, wearing the same wetsuit every surfer in the Pacific Northwest is already used to, I was fine, I had fun! Why heat the water when you can simply heat the surfer?

Isn't the climate getting warmer anyway? Winter seems a whole lot shorter. Isn't it already too busy here in the winter? The skiing here in the last few years has become downright miserable for anyone who doesn't enjoy standing in 40-minute lineups every run. Why not focus more on the shoulder seasons, for which surfing is ideal? It's a lot easier to be in the rain when you're already playing in the water. Tofino is full of surfers from all levels at all times of year in all sorts of weather. All of them smiling. On a good day in January at Cox Bay, Tofino, the parking lot is jammed. These parks also cater to every level, with everything from gentle whitewater or advance reef breaks all in the same pond all at the same time.

Will there be locals pricing? Season passes? Looking at other rates at parks and Surfstreams it doesn't come cheap. Surf Oasis in Montreal charges about $50/hour. Surf Snowdonia in Wales charges $60-$80/hr for the advanced wave with beginner and intermediate rates about half that. These rates don't particularly excite me. If I'm going to have to fork out similar dollars for an hour on the Surfstream as I would for a trip to the Island on the ferry, I'm probably just going to fork out money for the ferries like every other surfer in the Pacific Northwest. But an hour on Kelly Slater or Wavegarden's wave I might just think about staying and paying. If it's as good as the "freak of technology" it might just bring people travelling on the ferry from the other direction. We just might become a shoulder season destination.

I also wonder about where the signature slide is? Save for the pretty rad-looking teen rope swing area the plans kind of look like every other waterpark that has existed in suburbia all over the world ever since I was a kid. That's going back more than 30 years. Where's the destination appeal? I feel I went to a bunch of way better waterparks sometime back in the '80s. And it was less than a half-hour from my house.

Steep drops, underground passages, trap doors, hyperloops!? Slides faster than rollercoasters? Uphill tubing rollercoasters? Seems like the destination water-park world has stepped it up in the last few decades. I just hope that the Watershed isn't planned to be something just for kids. Going to need something for 40-year-old dads who want to reclaim their youth in a safe environment where they don't have to have any physical prowess. Who's the one booking the tickets and driving the kids up here? Maybe we embrace who we are and think about something like enclosed outdoor slides weaving their way through the woods like a bike-park trail? Couldn't we possibly use our surroundings a little better than plonking down a generic piece of suburbia? Just because the slides go outside doesn't make them any different than the ones at the Holiday Inn.

With $345 million being invested, it doesn't appear capital is an issue. Why not invest in something that's going to break the Internet rather than just put a ding in it? It just might be worth considering a redesign. Why not shoot for the moon instead of the bleachers? Why not do something that hasn't been done before? The only thing renaissance about the Watershed development is we'll be the first to bring all the fun things that have existed in suburbia for the past 30 years into the mountains. Which might not be so bad, but it will still be dead here in the offseason and the winter experience will just keep getting more and more crowded and less and less enjoyable.

Jon Parris


WSS grad fashion show thanks

On behalf of the Whistler Secondary Grad class of 2016, we'd like to thank the community for coming out to support the 2016 Fashion Show that was held on April 20.

Our goals were not only to fundraise for prom, but also to contribute to our school and local communities through our Legacy Project. This year we will be celebrating diversity through an art project, contributing to the WCSS hot-lunch program, as well as scholarships for students across the corridor.

A special thank you to all the parent volunteers, the stores and companies that provided clothes as well as donated items for the auction. This truly wouldn't have been possible without your support.

Erin Boisvert, VP WSS, for the 2016 Grad Class


Remembering our roots

Few Vancouverites have had such a profound legacy on building communities in British Columbia as Bob Williams.

Now 83 years old, the former municipal- and provincial-level politician has been actively working in the private sector for the past 30 years and is still changing the urban fabric of the region long after leaving office. He was first elected into office as a Vancouver City councillor in 1965 before becoming an NDP MLA for the Vancouver East riding for nearly two decades, beginning in 1966.

His illustrious career includes the creation of the Agricultural Land Reserve and extends far out into the B.C. Interior where he helped create over 12,000 square kilometres of provincial parks. But the achievements he holds closest to his heart lies along the South Coast.

Two of these happened when he was the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources during the short-lived NDP government of Premier Dave Barrett from 1972 to 1975, which is commonly noted today by political analysts as one of the most transformative periods in B.C.'s history.

Seeing the potential the area had to become a world-class ski destination, Williams had a big hand in saving Blackcomb Mountain from logging and establishing Whistler Village and the governing jurisdiction of the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

It began in the early 1970s when Al Raine, a former Canadian national ski team coach, and his Olympian wife Nancy Greene sent him a letter pleading government action to stop the imminent logging of Blackcomb. Raine would also later have an instrumental role in designing and structuring the emergence of Whistler Village.

"We brought the logging to a halt, we saved Blackcomb and we built a team with Al to create a new municipality and he was the representative on the city council from us," Williams told Vancity Buzz in an interview: "He was nothing short of brilliant. He studied all of the ski towns of Europe and we when we started Whistler he was the brainiest guy there when we had designed the town centre."

Whistler as a ski resort and municipal jurisdiction was to be an experiment for the provincial government, and if successful the model could be replicated elsewhere in B.C. to create more tourism hubs.

Peter Alder


Applause for WNORTH Conference

I just wanted to write a big thank you and congratulations to Heather Odendaal, the founder of the WNORTH Conference held at Nita Lake Lodge last week.

The goal of the conference is to provide leadership training, networking opportunities and inspirational connections among leading women in business. I was super impressed with the lineup of speakers, as well as the incredible females in attendance. I took away a number of tools and training tips that will help me develop as a leader, and also made some invaluable connections with women who are achieving great things in their lives and careers.

I applaud Heather's vision, courage and commitment to bring this conference to life, especially right here in our own community. The conference brought in women from all over North America to experience our beautiful resort during a shoulder-season need period. Many women were first-time visitors to the resort.

Thank you to Heather and the WNORTH team. I'm looking forward to the 2017 program and to seeing the growth of this wonderful event.

Kirsten Homeniuk


Women leaders gather

This past week, Whistler was host to a growing global gathering of women rising to leadership positions, the WNORTH Conference.  The event, which took place over three days at the Nita Lake Lodge, saw women from across North America connect with a core group of local leaders from Whistler.  

Keynote speakers from some of the world's biggest brands such as IBM, Lyft, Google and PwC spoke of the importance of career sponsorship, mentorship, driving profitability and creating social impact.

I would like to express my gratitude to all of the local organizations and people who have supported me in growing this event.  This conference would not have been possible without the support of my local organizing committee: Kerry Chalmers, Mike Odendaal, Blair Kaplan, Maja Ronneberger, Sarah McWilliams, Ruth Barrow, Robyn Savage, Hayley Ostridge, Kerrilee Auger, Michelle Leroux, Milena Huebener, Stephanie Fowler and Jenn Di Spirito.  

Local organizations also sponsored the event and sent female leaders from their organizations.  A few of these local champions of women include Gibbons, RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate and BlueShore Financial. A special thank you to Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden for her opening address and to local sponsors Scandinave Spa, The Cellar by Araxi, Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler Creative, Event Rental Works, VIP Whistler, Instapulse, Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Billies Flower House, Whistler Brewing Company, Red Carpet Ready by Christina and Pique Newsmagazine.

A very special thank you to the Nita Lake Lodge and General Manager Theresa Ginter.  The hotel delivered on an incredible partnership and we are happy to announce the conference will return to Nita Lake Lodge April 19-21, 2017.

Heather Odendaal, Founder WNORTH


Conscious consumerism good for people and planet

On April 21 Whistler's environmental charity, AWARE, hosted its third annual Simplify Life Clothing Swap as part of a four-day series of Earth Day events.

It takes a community to make an event of this scale a success, so we wanted to express our sincere thanks to all of those who donated their time, talent or treasure to make it an evening to remember. A collective of dedicated AWARE board members, staff and devoted volunteers pulled together to organize all aspects of the event, which was attended by nearly 150 people. Their efforts were supported by the generosity of local businesses that donated almost $4,000 in prizes to the silent auction.

A special thank you to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for hosting this event in their incredible venue. The care and attention to detail shown by the Fairmont team before, during and after the event surpassed our wildest expectations.

AWARE held this event the day before Earth Day to raise awareness of the impact that the clothing industry has on the environment and to inspire conscious consumerism. In an effort to promote alternative production models, local artisans who craft their creations out of upcycled pieces and parts were on-hand to share the beauty of low-impact living.

With the world now consuming an estimated 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year this issue warrants attention. If you are interested in finding out more about the impacts of the fashion industry join AWARE at EcoFlix on May 31 for a screening of the documentary The True Cost at the Whistler Public Library.

Thanks again! We hope to see you next year and remember to swap before you shop!

Stephanie Hubbard and Claire Ruddy, AWARE board


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