Letters to the Editor for the week of August 9 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE
  • Photo by Joel Barde

Joffre parking—a deadly situation?

The danger to public safety presented by the hubristic masses descending upon Joffre Lakes has gone beyond a critical point and must be addressed immediately before an incident occurs. 

I visited the area (last weekend) and shocking is the only word to describe the complete disregard for the parking rules and the contempt toward those attempting to enforce them. 

Twice in the past two years, I have contacted the RCMP in regard to this matter (winter and summer as this has been an ongoing issue). 

In the approach to the park, a large, obvious and unmissable portable sign indicates "No parking on the highway shoulder." Numerous other fixed signs indicate the same.

When I visited on a Sunday afternoon, for a length of two kilometres on both sides of the road, hundreds of cars were illegally parked on the highway shoulder, ditches, deactivated FSR's, and numerous other areas. In some areas, it is not possible for two oncoming vehicles to safely go past one another on this highway. Double parking is common. The shoulder and surrounding areas are being damaged.

Two BC Parks rangers were trying to manage the chaos at the entrance of the designated parking area to no avail. When I spoke to them they were clearly frustrated at the futility of the situation, they let me know that the RCMP had already visited three times with little effect. Of the RCMP, the ranger said, "they just throw up their hands and say, what can we do?"

It was suggested by the ranger that repeated calls to the RCMP might help. There was a steady stream of pedestrians wandering in all directions on the highway, cars were backed up and drivers neglecting directions issued to them.

The afternoon of Monday, Aug. 6 was again the same, this time I saw no BC Parks rangers. I can only hope they were trying to mitigate damage in the park, as I have no confidence in the visitors' respect for the park as they had started their day by completely flouting the law.

I thought perhaps a police presence would help resolve the situation but later Monday, in my conversation with a local RCMP officer, that thought was proven naive. The officer I spoke with in Pemberton told me that he had been up at the area for three hours earlier in the day. The motorists wilfully ignored the warnings and directions on a constant basis.

The officer also expressed frustration at the issue, as even his presence was to no avail. He couldn't write a ticket without a driver present, as drivers could present a plausible denial defence, and those he directed not to park on the highway would ignore him by moving further along and parking out of sight. If cars were towed, people would bitch about being stranded on a mountain highway with their family and no cell service.

I mentioned an Automatic License Plate Reader, as I did last year in my previous visit to the RCMP. I was told the district only had one and it was in Squamish. The officer mentioned that a minimum of two members of the RCMP, perhaps one at the bottom of the road and the other near the entrance would be needed for any chance of compliance. 

I spoke about the dangers presented by the situation and the officer replied chillingly, "It's only a matter of time before a large vehicle comes down the hill and plows into a bunch of vehicles and people are killed!"

This is what the highway at Joffre Lakes has become, a serious accident waiting to happen.

Punitive measures should be taken against all. These visitors cannot plead ignorance. 

Visitors must be made aware of the highway and parking rules before ascending the highway from Lillooet Lake area.

Our understaffed BC Parks staff should not be reduced to parking attendants. 

Our RCMP must be provided with the resources to remedy the immediate situation. 

Highways, the Squamish Lillooet Regional District and BC Parks with the assistance of the province should collaborate in finding permanent preventative measures and solutions this summer.

This status quo is unacceptable.

For the safety of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park each year I hope this is quickly resolved. 

Jamie May

Ironman athlete needs manners

After enjoying the Ironman weekend with my family and watching some incredible feats of human determination along with the joy and success achieved by the athletes, I was disappointed to witness one such athlete stoop to a disgusting level of arrogance directed at a coffee shop employee.

While enjoying my coffee on Monday morning, the said athlete walked into the coffee shop pushing his bike and began trying to navigate around other customers in the small store.

I am unsure what happened next but he came back out followed by an employee—he looked unhappy and I'm assuming the reason was he had been asked to leave the bike outside like every other bike owner has to do when entering any business.

What happened next was beyond belief and his tone and attitude was nothing short of arrogant and obnoxious—the employee explained he couldn't take his bike into the store and that she would be happy to take his order and bring his coffee to him while he waited with his bike.

He replied by stating that his bike was worth more money that her car—I couldn't believe my ears!

All credit to her she didn't react and simply asked him what he would like to drink, he continued by saying, "I did say your car, not mine." Wow.

Again, the employee didn't react and she continued to take his order and bring his coffee to him all while he complained and bitched about not being able to take his very expensive bike into the crowded store.

May I remind the athlete that the town of Whistler has many expensive bikes owned both by locals and visitors, the owners carry locks and know that its not acceptable to wheel a bike into a store no matter how expensive it is.

This kind of attitude and behaviour from an athlete that has been welcomed into this community and provided with the run of the town is what fuels the negative feelings that some have towards the event.  

I would just like to say to this athlete—get over yourself, buddy. If I were to serve you, you probably would have been wearing the coffee —not enjoying it!

Sam Cox

Thanking Pemberton

I chuckled as I read (Brian Wolfgang) Becker's letter to the Pique (Aug. 2, 2018) regarding the Ironman bike route not passing through Pemberton.

I particularly found his suggestion of Pemberton's inability to appreciate all it owes Whistler amusing. 

I would suggest it is the other way around!

Pemberton was perfectly fine 40 years ago, just ask any farmer here!

Sure, it was Whistler that caused large parts of Pemberton to become a bedroom community for Whistler. 

Where would Whistler be without Pemberton? The housing crunch in Whistler would be even more unbearable than it already is!

If I were going to do any "reflecting on that matter" I would reflect on why it is that Pemberton is not being thanked for all it has done for Whistler. 

If Whistler really wanted to show its appreciation, perhaps the town would collaborate with Pemberton in creating more employee-restricted homes here in Pemberton.

Whistler's prosperity is linked to Pemberton's.

Perhaps it is a good time for Mr. Becker to reflect on that matter.

Peter Fenwick

How do we keep B.C. competitive

What are we competing (for): the most-screwed wage-to-living expense award; how many employees with good jobs can live in the back of a van; how many million-dollar homes can sit vacant during a housing crisis; (or) how many times is (BC Chamber of Commerce CEO Val) Litwin's only response to the problem at hand is to have to Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) amended?

I don't understand how this individual keeps thinking an amended TFWP will all of a sudden fix things. The RCMP have come forward expressing frustration in regards to housing/affordability; the health care centre has done the same. Who needs to tell this person the problem is the fact that nobody can afford to live here anymore and this problem does not discriminate based on career?

Why would anyone want to put their livelihood at risk when they can go else where in the world and afford to eat and sleep well they are there?

You do have companies that are trying to put their best foot forward in supplying employee housing and they are being told they cannot build employee housing, to go find somewhere else to build.

For a minute, think about that. The Whistler mayor's key role is to ensure a safe a healthy environment for the taxpayers that live here and she is not providing that.

Perhaps the council needs to spend their next work retreat in the back of a van somewhere in the bush to get a real grasp.

I am going to help solve the employee/housing crisis for you. It will not cost a shiny nickel—you can put the fee towards the over budgeted slab of concrete you call a bus depot.

You create a transit service that serves the Sea to Sky, Vancouver to Mt. Currie, with a consistent and efficient schedule. I understand this cannot be cheap; however, if the government can afford a to waste $92 million on a hydrogen transit system and the municipality can afford to go $3 million dollars over budget on a bus depot that looks horrendous, I am sure you guys can figure out how to put some more buses on the road.

Next—for every house that is built over as certain dollar amount, you implement a tax that goes straight to the Whistler Housing Authority to help build more employee-restricted homes.

If someone can afford to come and build a multi-million-dollar home in Whistler that may be lived in a few days a year, they can afford to put money into a pool that will ensure the local people will have a place to live. And "by place to live," I mean within a building structure with a roof, running water, and electrical—not the back of a van parked off to the side of a road.

Within my line of work, if I was to tell my client I went over budget by more than half of the initial cost, I would be fired on the spot, no questions asked. The new bus depot is a great representation of what Whistler has become: an over-priced, piece of concrete that lacks character.

Paul Rowe

SLRD not listening

For some time now, Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) local government representation has been on the minds of many taxpaying landowners residing in the Pemberton Valley.

A majority of taxpaying landowners living and working in the Pemberton Valley have been questioning SLRD communication and consultation, and its lack of effective listening regarding reasonable requests for changes to proposed zoning.

The SLRD has received clearly laid out communication from a large number of taxpaying landowners in the Pemberton Valley regarding zoning. Pemberton landowners have voiced their concerns and a few changes have been made. However, there is still significant effort needed toward amending zoning over-regulation in order to maintain present healthy activities and to nurture strong economic growth in the Pemberton Valley.

The 150-plus membership of FACE (Future Area C Engagement) directed a position paper to the SLRD in April outlining their requests for changes to proposed zoning. FACE has not received a response.

SLRD staff reports contain a vision for zoning not shared by the majority of taxpaying landowners in the Pemberton Valley. Unfortunately, the SLRD seems intent on pushing its ideals on taxpaying landowners.

Is it the role of local government to decide what is "good" for the taxpayers and enforce their viewpoints, not following and supporting taxpayers' reasonable requests?

Now, the current zoning bylaw is going to Public Hearing on Aug. 15, taking the final steps toward forcing the rigid zoning bylaw on taxpaying landowners.

Is this what our local government representatives were elected to do? Stacking more costly bureaucratic rules and regulations on hardworking families to stymie their ability to live and work in a community?

What is the solution?

Come election time this fall, taxpayers look to elect individuals who will listen to the fundamental needs of taxpayers and who will take a strong stand to represent taxpaying landowners in developing more suitable zoning in the Pemberton Valley.

Brenda McLeod

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