Letters to the Editor for the week of Dec 4th 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE/TOURISM WHISTLER - A bear and cub on Whistler Mountain.
  • Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
  • A bear and cub on Whistler Mountain.

Time for action on bear safety

As I reflect back over the past bear season, and the 12 bears that lost their lives this year alone, it begs the question: "Have bear-smart programs and education helped?"

Absolutely! Would we be worse off if we hadn't implemented bear-smart programs and educational initiatives? Without a doubt. Was it enough? Clearly not.

What we need though, are not more programs, but more community support and participation. That, I am convinced, is the only way to progress the initiatives already in place.

When I started doing this work, my goal was to make my job redundant. I thought residents, as well as each stakeholder agency and organization, would simply adopt bear-smart practices and protocols once they knew how.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think my job would become redundant because there were no bears left. But that is exactly where we're heading.

Since 1990, 252 bears have been killed in Whistler as a result of human-caused conflict. More have been lost in motor vehicle accidents, and to hunting and natural factors. The black bear population in Whistler has dropped to half of what it was five years ago. It can no longer sustain the current rate of mortality.

It's easy to place blame elsewhere. The problem is that takes the onus off each one of us to do anything differently. And there's always something you can do.

This is the 11th hour, people!

Don't do nothing because you can't do everything. Do something. Help a neighbour get their garbage to the compactor, if they don't have a car. Talk to your friend about the recycling on his/her porch, or about locking doors to prevent a bear from accessing their kitchen cupboards.

If garbage and recycling still aren't secured, call RMOW Bylaw Enforcement to visit them. 604-905-BEAR (2327), Option #2.

Never before in the history of the world has the call to action been so great. And never before has it fallen on such deaf ears. It's time for people to take back their power and take the things that matter to them into their own hands. This is about more than Whistler's bears.

Nonetheless, if I was granted just one wish, I would ask that I be able to stop bears from getting killed as a result of conflict with people.

If I could do that all by myself, my life's work would be done. Problem is, I can't fix this by myself. It takes the whole community to pitch in and do their part. So I will leave that challenge with you to commit to.

I hate to say this, but truly, if you're not part of the solution, you are actually part of the problem. Doing nothing is not helpful. Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry about this, I just want to see change for the better.

Do I have any regrets? No. I've been doing the best I can and I've done something. It is time that each of us does our part to protect our wild neighbours and the planet for that matter.

First and foremost, keep your own property free of bear attractants, and keep your doors and windows closed and locked. It you see bear attractants anywhere else, speak to the people living, or working there, about it and if further action is needed call RMOW Bylaw Enforcement.

Go to www.bearsmart.com to learn more about what attracts bears to your property and how to get bear smart.

Sylvia Dolson

Executive Director

Get Bear Smart Society

Up to us to keep bears safe

I was going to start off by writing a positive letter, but unfortunately it's not a happy letter.

As a longtime local of Whistler, I am very distraught over the constant killing of bears. I have volunteered my whole spring, summer and fall putting posters up all over town. Most of the posters were torn down, which was very upsetting to me.

I also was handing out information booklets on the bus. I did my best to get the word out.

I firmly believe that the fines are too low and handed out too infrequently (for not keeping bear attractants locked up). There should be no warnings. And the fines must be higher, like $1,000, and include court hearings. There are those people who will only change if it costs them money.

I do understand that we can't force people not to have flower or vegetable gardens. (Though) this isn't the major reason bears are killed — the major reason for bear deaths is garbage and unlocked homes. It's plain ignorance and laziness.

Bears are beautiful, they were here before us, and will always live in Whistler — why can't we all get along?

Already this year (12) bears have been euthanized and others hit by cars. Please help.

Ryan Doiron


Speak out on cell tower

We have become increasingly involved and concerned about the plans for a new cell tower on Lorimer Road and Highway 99.

Putting aside the unquantifiable health risks, the public information package from SBA Communications Corp. is grossly misleading (in terms of scale) and disingenuous to the process of informing the public about the true impact on Whistler's natural beauty.

The view that will greet every visitor and resident each day as they approach the Lorimer Road/Hwy. 99 intersection will be a 115-foot (35-metre) cell tower.

It will be seen when we are skiing down the mountain, from the Benchlands, from Blueberry, from White Gold, Whistler Cay, Sunridge and much of the village.

The current tower (10 metres high) is hidden in the trees, dwarfed by the proposed new 35-metre tower. We understand that SBA Communications would actually be allowed to add another 25 per cent to the height in the future (approximately nine metres) without requiring further Industry Canada permission — making it potentially a 43-44-metre (145 feet) metal tower, the height of a typical construction crane, or as tall as the Fairmont.

To put that in perspective: the typical telegraph poles are 30-35 feet tall (10 metres) so imagine almost three and a half of those on top of each other.

Viewed from another angle, near the Whistler Daycare Centre the intrusive scale and magnitude is clearly evident... Any attempt to "disguise" the new tower as a "tree," as proposed by SBA, will leave an artificial structure that is grossly out of proportion with its natural surroundings.

The whole issue of the need for a new tower in this location raises additional questions:

1. Is cell reception so bad in Whistler that we need a new 35-metre tower?

2. With improved technology why can't SBA achieve what they need to do on a 10-metre tower or two of them ?

3. Why aren't other locations beyond the epicentre of our town being proposed by SBA that are less intrusive? Is it because of cost and ease?

There is a huge risk here that the public will feel that they were not properly informed, or given an opportunity to have its voice heard until too late in this process.

Of greater concern is the fact that the RMOW (from what we can ascertain) does not even have the authority to prevent this going ahead if Industry Canada wants it to happen, which makes an early and concerted opposition by the RMOW all the more critical! 

Don't let this monstrosity get built on your watch and scar Whistler permanently.

If it gets approved it will forever be remembered as this council's legacy, because every day, every resident will see this massive cell tower looming over Whistler and be reminded what our elected officials did to try and prevent it.

There must be alternative solutions and/or locations — common sense must surely prevail?

Please act decisively to force SBA and Industry Canada to rethink this tower and fight for Whistler by protecting what we all really care about.

Locals, if you care and want to learn more, please come to the Open House where SBA Communications is presenting on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at Myrtle Philip School.

Andrew and Karen Ellott


(Editor's note: In last week's Pique it was mistakingly reported that the proposed cell tower was 35-feet tall. It is, as mentioned in the above letter, 35 metres tall. Pique regrets the error.)

The housing crunch

There is one possibility that (has) not (been) mentioned, which could be contributing to the housing crunch.

Some homeowners could be removing their available suites from long- or short-term inventory because of the difficulty they experience when trying to evict a tenant for cause, or some other valid reason. The process a landlord has to navigate their way through with the Residential Tenancy Branch is just not worth the trouble.

The pendulum has swung too far in the tenant's favour.

There are good tenants out there, but when you have a bad one, it is almost impossible to get rid of them and I speak from personal experience.

Phil Mitchell


Disappointment at Seppo's

Every year the first World Cup alpine ski races kick off at Lake Louise. On Nov. 29, the men's downhill showcased seven Canadian racers including Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Manny Osborne-Paradis, Morgan Pridy, and Broderick Thompson (his first World Cup race).

What better place to watch the 11:30 a.m. televised race than at the top of Whistler in the Roundhouse Lodge with fellow ski-racing fans? The only two televisions in the lodge able to show televised sports were at Seppo's restaurant/bar.

What a disappointment to learn that the staff had chosen to air U.S. college football at the time of the televised downhill race!

I was not alone in my disappointment as I watched multiple people turned away by staff after asking for the race to be shown instead. This included members of the BC Alpine Ski Team who had come in to watch some of their favourite athletes in action.

Sadly, we all missed the outstanding silver medal performance by Manny Osborne-Paradis. This was his first podium in four years and a remarkable accomplishment on home soil. Two other Canadians Jan Hudec (19th) and Benjamin Thomsen (29th) finished in the top 30.

To be in Whistler while our national ski team competes in a Canadian World Cup downhill, and be told that U.S. college football is more important, is a huge letdown.

Duncan Jacks


Aggressive towing has a cost

It was with interest that I read the article in Pique about cars being towed in Whistler (Pique, Nov.27). I would like to add my experience, which happened recently when visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who live in Whistler.

They are staying in a unit at the Gables temporarily, while waiting to move into their house in December.

My daughter had requested a visitor's pass from the owners of the unit, but to no avail, so when I arrived we debated what to do about my car. Eventually we decided to write a large note, which we left on the dashboard of my car overnight.

In our note, in large print, we asked for my car to "please" not be towed giving our contact number and unit number, and also indicating that (my daughter) has only one permit for the unit.

After a lovely evening spent with my family it was so upsetting for us all to walk outside and find my car gone.

My son-in-law then had an unpleasant conversation with an employee of the tow company, who said it was not their policy to read notes and rather than answer questions, (the employee) put the phone down on him.

I cannot tell you how it upset my grandchildren to have Gran's car taken away.

I felt a mixture of sadness and anger when arriving at the compound filled with cars — I suppose the same thing was happening to other visitors. I was taken to a tatty office with only a card machine and my invoice on the desk.

The whole experience, including dealing with the person in the office whose only interest was getting my money and repeating that they were not allowed to read notes on dashboards, was extremely unpleasant.

(It was unpleasant) to the extent (that) I drove away from Whistler knowing that one day I will return to visit my family (but) "the magical feeling" I have always had for Whistler might be gone.

Biddy Collings

North Vancouver

Sewer right of way improvement

I would like to thank the "powers that be" for the improvement down on Old Millar's Creek Road in Function Junction.

Although this isn't an actual trail per se, it is in fact a very highly-used thoroughfare by many people.

Before the improvement the area was impassable in high water, with Mr. Beaver playing his part also.

I'm sure I speak for many on a job well done, and most appreciated by all!

Heather Hamilton


The case for train travel

The first time I discovered Pique, quite a few years back, a young tourist from Hong Kong complained how hard it was to go from Vancouver airport to Whistler as there was no rail link.

There are (large) numbers of ski fans around the world that cannot, or do not want to drive a rented car on an unknown zigzagging road in a foreign country in the middle of the winter, especially those that live in big cities where owning a car is a nuisance for many reasons.

They are used to taking trains in a major city and arriving quickly and safely in, or very near to, a well-known mountain resort.

Most of the major winter resorts in Western Europe, Japan (both on Honshu, the main island, and on Hokkaido island) are train accessible.

I remember reading before the 2010 Winter Olympics that special trains from Vancouver to Whistler wouldn't be practical due to freight trains and snow.

How come European regions, regions above the Arctic Circle, along with the above-mentioned Hokkaido region of Japan, manage to run trains in winter, including passenger trains?  

Enjoy the winter!

J-L Brussac


Not the time to have PD days

This letter is in regards to the Professional Development (PD) days for high school students.

I am astounded that after losing (five) weeks of school (27 instructional days) at the start of the school year (and the end of the last school year), a PD day was given to students on Monday, (Nov. 24). It is one thing to have a holiday such as Christmas and Easter; however, it seems to me that kids nowadays are getting more free time than ever before.

(Many) kids on those days seem to stay at home, play video games or go hang out with friends, and the parents are left to deal with these circumstances.

It seems as though the government is trying to dumb down education to save on money and time and that is against the Charter of Rights.

I remember growing up overseas in a war — if we were being bombed 24/7 we were given assignments that had to be handed in when we came back to class and stay on schedule. When there was no bombing we went to school like everywhere else.

We only had two holidays — Christmas and Easter, 18 subjects to follow the entire year and no questions asked.

You failed one subject, you failed the entire year. There was none of that barely passing or no failing. To fail is to learn the meaning of working harder, to excel and achieve better marks and not to give up.

I left when I was 14 years of age fluent in four languages, and when I came to Canada acquired one more.

Life is not easy and we are dealt the hand that we are given, it is how you play that hand that distinguishes you from the person beside you.

Teachers need to be given the tools and the time to properly inspire upcoming generations to strive and succeed, and if they don't our beautiful country will cease to exist, and (it) will be an open hunting ground for others to come and take it away from us. 

Chadi Abouhalka 


Thanks to CFOW

I attended the Community Foundation of Whistler's (CFOW) Community Showcase and was blown away by the number and breadth of charities and non-profit organizations that the Community Foundation provides support for.

I was attending on behalf of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC) — one of this year's grant recipients. We were incredibly lucky to receive almost $47,000 in funding for 11 different projects this year from the Community Foundation of Whistler's Environmental Legacy Fund, which we are incredibly grateful for. Some highlights of what we were able to achieve this year thanks to the CFOW:

• Expansion of our on-the-ground inventory and control program. Thanks to the CFOW, we removed invasive species like Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and yellow flag iris at 314 locations throughout the region, more than doubling last year's efforts;

• Training canoe guides in Whistler, providing knowledge and tools required to report new locations of Yellow Flag Iris, one of our high priority species in Whistler;

• Provision of education and outreach to community members via our Invasive Species ID workshops, our Alienbusters and Knot on My Property programs, and our Community weed pull events;

• Invasive species training for local landscaping, horticulture and earthmoving companies.

While many of our projects are not yet finalized, we have already achieved so much this year. And it's largely thanks to the Community Foundation of Whistler and its supporters. So from SSISC, and the native plants and animals of the Sea to Sky corridor — many thanks!

I encourage you to visit www.whistlerfoundation.com to find out more about all the amazing projects they have supported over the years.

Here's to a great year, and here's to the Community Foundation of Whistler for investing in and supporting our community!

To find out more about SSISC or Invasive Species, please visit www.ssisc.info.

Clare O'Brien, Executive Director

Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council

Letter needs context

I choked on my tea when I read Mr. (Pierre) Petelle's letter complaining about David Suzuki's Oct. 30 "Science Matters" article, using the term sustainable agriculture and plant-science industry in the same sentence (Pique, Nov.27).

I snorted when he proceeded to ridicule Suzuki's advocacy of traditional agricultural methods, when proof of the destruction of viable soil via mono-culture practices is evident across the country, let alone when he claimed bee populations are more robust than ever, when even the Globe and Mail, a bastion of conservative reporting, quoted this summer that Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency blamed bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec on planting corn treated with neonicotinoids, calling the use of neonic-treated corn and soybeans "unsustainable."

And then to presume that the DS Foundation's sole concern is not for solutions but donations... the whole reason we trust these NGOs over private corporations, such as those that pay CropLife to represent them, is for that very reason: they are non profits.

CropLife Canada is the trade organization for insecticide companies, and Mr. Petelle is their spokesperson... who would you trust?

Sarah Valentine


Remembrance Day — a Whistler tradition

Our community, young and old, comes together each year to commemorate Remembrance Day in a manner that truly reflects the unique spirit of Whistler.

After the moving formal ceremonies, it has been a Whistler tradition for many to gather in the Fire Hall truck bays to share memories with friends and neighbours, and warm up with complimentary hot chocolate, coffee and cookies.

Rotary has long been privileged to organize and serve these refreshments, which are donated by local businesses.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Marketplace IGA, Blenz and Starbucks for their contributions over the years. Our thanks go also to the Whistler Fire Department for opening their premises to the public.

Joan Deeks

secretary, Rotary Club of Whistler

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