Letters to the editor for the week of April 3rd 

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Bald is beautiful

If you notice more bald heads around town this week, it may be due to our recent Balding For Dollars event!

Whistler Friends Society held the 12th annual Whistler Balding for Dollars event on Saturday March 29 at the GLC and there are now a bunch more people out there sporting flashy, new, shiny heads for a good cause.

Balding for Dollars is a province-wide fundraiser in support of kids with cancer at BC Children's Hospital.

Each year, dozens of Whistlerites make a commitment to enhance the lives of kids suffering from cancer by collecting pledges to have their heads shaved. The event raised $16,433 though online and in-person fundraising efforts, and our silent auction at the event. 2014 marked the 12th year of holding Balding for Dollars here in Whistler, and since that first event, the event has raised over $221,000 for the kids and families dealing with childhood cancer all across B.C., including Whistler!!

Of course, this event would never happen without the ongoing support of our sponsors who donate a variety of things to make it a success. To each of them we say a huge THANK YOU: Garibaldi Lift Co (GLC), Blackcomb Barber Shoppe, Mountain FM, the Question, Crystal Lodge and Suites, and Walsh Restoration.

We look forward to shaving a bunch more heads and raising tons of cash for kids with cancer again in spring 2015!

Thank You,

Wendy and Dave Clark

Founders, Whistler Friends Society

Backcountry needs our protection

Don Schwartz raised a number of points in his letter in support of continued heli skiing in Garibaldi Park, the bulk of which I suggest show a rather poor understanding of the problem (Pique, March 26).

One of the most interesting is the implied message that we as a community owe Whistler Blackcomb something. While true that they have created something that is certainly the anchoring economic engine in the corridor, this in no way implies a debt of servitude from the community.

Our relationship is one of equality, where we depend on them as much as they on us.

In terms of compensation for their investment, anyone familiar with their profit margins will tell you they are more than adequately compensated. The notion that a one company town is the master of the community resources is a woefully misguided one, as any Kentucky coal miner will tell you.

This is a matter of best use of a unique and very rare public resource.

To put it in proper context, one must understand that there is a great deal of tenured and functional heli-ski terrain outside the park. Although you will not likely hear Whistler Heli-Skiing mention it, the primary attraction of the Spearhead range for them is the very short flight from the heli base to ski terrain, as well as how visible and audible their operations are from the ski hill.

In other words, this terrain is not critical to the continued success of their operation and if it were, they would have spent a bit of effort planning for the possibility of losing it, as that has always been a significant possibility.

As custodian of a rare public resource, BC Parks neither owes them any debt, nor should they needlessly stray from their mandate of no-mechanized access, especially considering that by doing so it is not needlessly blocking opportunity for continued heli skiing in the valley.

To suggest otherwise is to ignore the example already set by all other heli-ski operations both locally and beyond.

One cannot say the same for terrain accessible to the self-propelled ski tourer. The number of significant, good-quality areas accessible to the non-mechanized skier can be counted on three fingers: The Duffey Lake Road, Musical Bumps and the Spearhead — and, no, Paul Ridge does not count. Everything else is either multi-day expeditioning, or is overrun by sleds and helicopter traffic, which leads me to Don's comments on noise.

If helicopters were silent there really would be no conflict. Noise is the entire issue, the lack of which is what significantly amounts to the attraction of backcountry skiing.

We do it not because we can't afford helicopters; it is because helicopters are a total anathema to the experience! I'm not sure what he was getting at about ski-hill bombs, or jackhammers, but there is little doubt that helicopters in the Spearhead serves only heli skiers at the expense of all other users.

To sum up, the Spearhead is not needed for a continued viable heli-ski industry. Accessible ski-touring terrain is very limited, yet faces an increasing demand. Unless someone can invent a silent helicopter, conflict and antagonisms will continue with the bottom feeder ski-touring local being served the shitty end of the stick.

All this is moot of course as BC Parks has been directed by Victoria to renew Whistler Heli-Skiing's park use permit, despite community wishes.

There may have been a time when they really needed this bending of the rules to survive, but that is long gone.

Still, for now we can only hope that it will, as promised, minimize its use of this unique area. The lack of noiseless yet accessible backcountry will continue to be a problem, at least for the growing crowd that appreciates it.

The new Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola is poised to provide some small amount of OK quality terrain, but generally speaking the Coast Range is typically only good to look at, without some sort of combustion engine.

We should more strongly protect the very few areas where they are not needed.

Bruce Kay

Squamish

RMOW policy monopolizing business in Whistler?

I gasped in mild shock as I read the (Pique) March 20 article regarding a proposed bylaw to limit marijuana production to one facility in Whistler, and not for the reasons you may suspect.

I have no interest in (nor objection to) smoking or growing pot. But as a business owner, the proposed bylaw makes a loud statement that goes against all principles of competition, fairness and opportunity in the business world: That Whistler and the RMOW are prepared to abuse their legislative powers to eliminate competition for a specific business.

By allowing one, and only one, of a certain type of business to operate monopolizes the local market, and unfairly eliminates potential competitors.

Having done business in places like Russia and China I'm all too familiar with closed markets where well connected people get favours, while others get shut out, and the negative effects this can have on the marketplace.

While I'm not suggesting there are favours being offered here, on the surface the appearance and effect of the proposed bylaw is much the same.

When asked why the bylaw would only allow one operation Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was quoted as saying, "from my own perspective it's just continuing to be a safety issue to my mind. Until marijuana is legalized there's a safety concern."

You shouldn't run a municipality by exception; either the RMOW is accepting such businesses and granting rezoning to all applicants who meet the requirements and criteria, or if they have a genuine safety concern they deny such applications without exception.

I wish Chris Pelz success in his zoning application and business, at the same time we need to ensure the RMOW maintains a fair and open policy towards new business operators.

Mark Steffens

Whistler

Whistler Immigration is a fast and smooth ride

As bobsleigh is a very obscure sport in the world we at The Whistler Sliding Centre often have a difficult time finding enough capable coaches and pilots to satisfy the thirst for our public sport experience programs and ever growing sport programs.

With the help of Whistler Immigration we have been able to increase our ability to have international drivers come to Whistler to grow the sport of bobsleigh and the Whistler Sliding Centre, while our Canadian drivers were overseas winning medals and inspiring youth around the world.  

With constantly changing immigration regulations and new rules surrounding foreign workers we were thinking we'd have issues this past season.

However, Whistler Immigration stepped in and, as we say at the track, "it was a fast smooth ride."

"Many thanks to Whistler Immigration for always helping to build our fantastic community."

Tracy Seitz, Director Whistler Sliding Centre

Whistler

Is B.C. playing LNG Russian roulette with our children?

This is one heck of a gamble. Like my granny said, it's wise not to put all your eggs in one basket. I used to do this for a living, and while I support natural resource development, so long as it is environmentally responsible, I don't support fiscal Russian roulette. 

For one, expect huge cost over runs:

According to EY in a report titled "Global LNG — Will new demand and new supply mean new pricing?" Deutsche Bank notes that only two of the last 12 LNG projects have been delivered on time and budget, and it appears train sizes, increasing technological complexity, labour issues and environmental issues, while upstream supply regions have also become more complex. Analysts at J.P. Morgan similarly estimate that, since 2000, about one third of all LNG projects have been delayed or over budget, or both."

EY, the third largest professional services firm in the world, continues to say, "Deutsche Bank estimates that the currently operating LNG projects were developed at an average cost of approximately $1,200 million/mtpa, whereas the average cost for the recently sanctioned and proposed projects is more than US$2,600 million/mtpa, more than double the historic average."

The other factor here is that the government of B.C. has pitted its revenue targets on current pricing models, not taking in new spot pricing models in Japan nor the long-term futures already sold by Australian firms. 

According to Keith Schaefer, editor at the Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin, "LNG prices have long been linked to the price of oil — with gas priced at roughly 13% or 1/8th the price of Brent, with the details determined in confidential contract negotiations. Asian consumers are tired of this linkage, especially since it has meant prices that are four times higher in Asia than in North America." 

There are so many unknowns in the futures and commodities markets. One only has to look at the sub mortgage crisis in 2008 that wiped out the savings of so many, and took down some of the most reputable firms including Bear Stearns. 

Let's not forget what the price of oil dropped to in 2008, nor forget what the Henry Hub spot price was. Is it me, or has everyone forgotten the woes our forestry industry went through 20 years ago? 

To put the future of B.C., and to put all of this investment back into a resource-based economy at a time when the rest of the developed world is turning to technology seems to be misguided. It's one hell of a big gamble.

Patrick Smyth

Whistler

New marijuana laws 'asinine'

There is much irrational comment on the subject of marijuana. Even while acknowledging a legitimate usage, stumbling blocks are set in the way restricting who may grow and charging black market prices.

Speaking against the free regulations of home growing, the high and mighty, who really don't know any better, rationalize excuses such as, "there is no constitutional right to low cost medicine," and "no evidence of what's best," and "there may be safety issues like fire and mould and home invasion."

All of these probabilities exist in every home.

Although some politicos my say that "public safety is a priority" they also say "the municipality does not want to take on the issue of going in and checking for mould and proper safe conditions."

This was only said because they were talking about marijuana while displaying their dogma.

What we have is legislated vindictiveness expensively waged against our population, which has steadfastly refused to honour these asinine laws.

Clearly the legislation is a failure and needs to be abolished — let legislators find something better to think about.

Terry Smith

Garibaldi Highlands

Kudos to local heroes

Warm thanks and much love go out to Sebastian and Kimberly for towing our fuel-spent steed to the PetroCan in Pemberton. Though it was only a couple kilometres pull, you took the time to help while busy moving mattresses to your crib.

Kindness like this reminds me why I love the Pemberton Valley and the denizens that abide in this most beautiful shire of B.C.

We'll be "kinding" it forward as always. Thanks again and don't hesitate to be in-touch.

Rob and Clarissa Dolyny

Vancouver

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