Letters to the Editor for the week of December 15th 

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL ALLEN
  • File photo by Michael Allen

Always about what was best for the dogs

WAG was approached in November 2011 and asked if it was interested in taking on a dogsledding business with the surviving 187 dogs from the kennel where Bob Fawcett killed 56 dogs in 2011.

As a board member of WAG at the time we were told, incorrectly, that these dogs were different than "ordinary" dogs and pulling a sled was best for them. We were also shown, incorrectly, the untold profits that this would generate, which would (enable) a state-of-the-art living for those dogs.

Rightly, WAG declined to be involved in a business venture, but it agreed to a new entity in which Sue Eckersley and I represented them and took on the care of the dogs.

We also brought onboard a local veterinarian and the Edmonton Humane Society. As we had almost 200 dogs at that time, we started sending dogs to the Victoria SPCA (for relocation).

Many of our dogs required expensive medical care, such as dental treatment from years of chewing chains and dog houses, mammary tumor (treatment) as they were never spayed, and even ophthalmology care.

We followed closely the progress of these "un-homeable" dogs and found they were having great lives, unequivocally happier than the kennel dogs on their best days.

Thousands of volunteer hours and the goodwill of the community made the Whistler Sled Dog Co. the No. 1 dogsledding operation on TripAdvisor in Whistler.

Even with that, the resources did not exist to ensure a level of animal welfare that we were comfortable with. In fact, not a level of care that any reasonable human being would be comfortable with if they had these sentient, intelligent beings in their care.

It was a no-brainer, 60 happy dogs or 100-plus working dogs. So we closed the kennel and brought in proper rescue workers who tended the dogs with superior animal husbandry skills until all were adopted. 

Perri Domm, you ask what happened to the equipment at the kennel in (last week's Pique's Letters to the Editor section). Every nickel and on top of the donated funds, were all put towards the dogs. We spayed, neutered, trained and enriched and took care of them daily until they got into their homes.

My thoughts on commercial kennels in general — are there better ones than others? Sure. Do those operate at a level that we should be comfortable with in terms of dog care and life? No.

And why? We don't need sleds to pull tourists around in Canada. We have plenty of other attractions that don't involve animals for profit.

A sled dog is just a dog like any other, no different. A certain breed with certain characteristics maybe, but the same applies to a border collie. I see no reason that we personally, and our government regulations, should treat them any differently.  

I am very proud of what we did with those dogs and I sleep much better at night knowing the dogs are in homes and not in a kennel. From the beginning to the end of the venture for Sue and me, it was only ever about what was best for the dogs.

Kim Clarke
Whistler Sled Dog Co.

Living with bears and all that is saCred

I want to share my deep sadness at the major loss of life here in Whistler where bears are concerned. This happens year after year.

I wish that all conservation officers and any people who are in close proximity to bears see this appeal and give thoughtful attention to it. 

In my humble opinion, no bear conservation group has taken more measures to protect Whistler's bears than the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS). For an (uninterrupted) period of 20 years, (it has worked for bears) in the face of circumstances that might well have turned other conservationists into apathetic defeatists. 

The (column) published in the Question on Nov. 15 was a direct attack on Get Bear Smart by a person who was both misinformed and vindictive. (The column) is certainly not the thoughts of locals from Whistler. 

Let us be clear about some facts: GBS was the group that initiated the bear-proof bins, as well as the signs on the highway and at bus stops. It has: enhanced habitat by planting berry bushes outside of conflict zones; (initiated) the removal of (bear-attractant) landscaping in no-bear zones; conducted waste audits to ensure the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) landfill sites (used) electric fences and both the RMOW's, residents' and businesses' bins were bear-proof; funded bear-proof waste containment; worked with the RMOW to pass garbage and attractant bylaws; provided a comprehensive training program and ongoing counsel to restaurants for effective human-bear conflict management; founded the Whistler Bear Advisory Committee to keep open discussion and news in the community; and lobbied the government when necessary to create more bear-friendly and rehabilitation policies. What other groups have had more impact than that?

It seems that the future of our No. 1 ski resort and the supposed "bear smart" town with its cuddly toys in souvenir shops is more important than preserving life in a fear-driven world.

Year after year, the same arguments keep coming up but still the bears die. There are never solutions — just talking, and more killing and then hard-right conservative entrepreneurs criticize GBS, which has actually done something proactive over the past 20 years! To be honest, taking tourists viewing and taking pictures of the bears is not helping. They absolutely need to be left alone.

I think most people do not want death on their hands.

The Conservation Officer Service (COS) should work with GBS and the newer groups to get something done. We have to get the whole town onboard with garbage. COS officers are underpaid and overworked. They are frustrated and need the support of more people in the office.

There are many people who have questions about the bears. It is important for the community to have transparency: There is no trust and for good reason. How can you trust anyone if the details are not forthcoming?

I am appalled that as a resident you cannot get straight answers and there is still just a lot of talking back and forth and no action out on the streets to stop these deaths except from GBS. 

I have asked what we can do come spring and still have not received any information that was promised. I am happy to give up one day a week in selfless service for the bears and I am sure many other people would. I am still waiting. One death is too many where the bears are concerned, and now there is much blame from one group to the next. We cannot keep going around in circles. It is time for a drastic shift.

We could look outside in the province for help, but we should be looking at where we live, to be leaders not followers, paving the way for the future of the wildlife we so like to sell to the tourists. We need to be accountable, all of us, including all conservation officers and any people who are in close proximity to the bears.

If we truly are a "bear smart" community then there are many things we all have to do together to ensure zero deaths moving forwards.

I have not lost my faith in humans, but I have in the system and its policies.

I just cannot stand behind a policy that kills bears for the simple act of eating, a basic need we all have. 

The incident I find most disturbing (though there are many others) was the killing of a bear called Charlie who I had known for 10 years. I believe Charlie's death was unnecessary and not for good enough reason. This bear was old and had been around Whistler a long time. This is so sad and again these beautiful beings should be protected. 

The COS had a trap set for a week. According to the article, there was garbage in the garage. The burning question in my mind is: Why was a trap set to remove the bear instead of removing the attractant? We are only a few weeks away from hibernation.

The COS has the ability to issue a DWPO (Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order), which asks that people remove the attractant within a specified period of time. If the property owner fails to comply, they can be fined. Of course, it is not the answer, but part of what we need to know.

There was no investigation as to the security prevention method of the garage. Was the bear tagged? Why was it a public safety concern? Had it acted in a threatening way? The minimal information given to the public seemed to say it had only broken into the garbage.

With respect, Charlie bear should not have been killed and it would be nice to have an inquest into whether this bear had a tag and also if he had he attacked anyone, and why. With two weeks left, even if a tag had dropped off, why was he not relocated?

We should be doing all we can to achieve zero deaths and there should be a major push once again to stop the reasons why bears are being killed, to curb our inability to live with them, in fact any animal.

The only moose that came here died in an accident after being re-located. The conservation did try to do the right thing by relocating her because people had also been harassing the moose with unleashed dogs, and sightings frequently created traffic jams along Blackcomb Way near the wetland where she lived.

We need to man up and take action together so the conservation people can do what they signed up to do: Save life, not take it. People like bear researcher Michael Allen and GBS's Sylvia Dolson need to be respected and taken seriously. Other groups should be working with them; not the other way round.

Dolson secured electric fences in Squamish and the many other things we now see in Whistler.

Why is it the conservation officers have not studied with long-time bear experts and indeed do not even know people like Charlie Russell who has spent over 50 years with bears. Sylvia introduced me to him some eight years ago. The man is a legend at preserving life, not taking it.

According to Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician who has been working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, they've used tasers on moose and bears successfully. "The stress doesn't appear to be long term. Blood samples indicate moose started to return to normal within 20-30 minutes compared to the 24-48 hours it takes for a moose to recover from being drugged. Bears who returned to a dump after being shot at with tasers "showed greater aversion to people than before they were hit" (adfg.alaska.gov).

Apparently COS no longer does translocation as they say it is stressful and unkind to the bear. Do they think that killing them outright is not? Translocation does not work because they are either hunted and found pretty quickly, or they go into another bear's territory and fight to their death. However, at least that way they would die naturally and not be shot. Dumping problematic bears in the Callaghan so they get immediately shot by hunters is not conducive to saving them.

And the public has questions we want answered about the killing of the bears: Where are bears being killed? What happens to the corpses of bears? Is it transparent as to what equipment the COS uses? Is there a cage to detain bears which is big enough for a mother and baby, so she cannot roll over and kill her baby?

We are living in the bears' land and the First Nations elders would never allow this to happen. They have more respect for animals. They have hunted them to survive, but these new-age hunters only do this as a blood sport, trophy hunting. Why is this allowed on the periphery of Whistler, which considers itself family-friendly resort?

Any bear relocated in hunting territory is a joke and I am sure not a lot of people realize Whistler's hunting zones.

In Colorado they use a "two-strike" policy with tranquillized ear tagging and relocate their bears once. 

It would be nice to have bear sanctuaries but there is no choice yet.

David Suzuki is demanding protection for all the grizzlies. I asked COS about creating a bear sanctuary for bears that were going to die, I was laughed at and asked, "Is this not playing God?" Well, shooting them is, for sure. 

We have new things every day such as solar electric fencing. People should be forced to put electric fences around their land once a bear starts to access it.

The COS in Whistler needs someone who totally deals with bears. We need guidance from bear experts like Charlie Russell to work in conjunction with the COS.

Bear families and populations and habitats have been devastated by our fear. Now let us aspire to do better and stop the deaths. Let us allow bears to exist safely among us, after all it is their home: we are just visitors.   

Tina Pashumati James
Whistler

Congestion woes

After reading last week's article (Pique Dec. 8) "No 'silver bullet' for congestion woes" it seems that local Whistlerites, having the audacity to use their cars, are the main cause of traffic snarl-ups. Why then is it that we only see these chronic conditions in the high seasons?  

I guess we could stop using our cars to get to work, school, do grocery shopping etc. so that tourists could have a utopian experience!

But if you are going to ask us to do this, there has to be an incentive.

Perhaps besides having more buses, RMOW could put some money into free or heavily subsidized bus passes for full-time residents of Whistler?

If these were issued on a "use them or lose them" basis by month, it may well produce that incentive.

Perhaps some of the $200,000 designated for traffic studies could be used to run a pilot project on how this might work?

J. Carney
Whistler

Bus schedule needs consistency

I really wish someone could explain to me why it's so hard to make a winter bus schedule that doesn't require a slide rule, sundial and four years of trigonometry to decipher.  

Every year, we spend four months dealing with a gong show that removes the logic and consistency of the regular bus schedule.  

How hard could it possibly be to add buses to an existing schedule without (messing) it up? 

The standard northbound trips from the village of five minutes and 37 minutes past the hour now happen just three times a day, with no more than two hourly trips happening at the same time past the hour. Where's the consistency ? 

If the Resort Municipality of Whistler wants to get locals riding the bus, maybe they should provide a consistent schedule! 

Gerbils on acid could do a better job of scheduling. 

Kevin Mikkelsen 
Whistler 

A great big thank you

I just want to say thank you to a lady I talked to at the Squamish Walmart.

I was looking at chess and checker games for my chess club at school. She asked if the games were for my grandchildren and I let her know that I was hoping to pick up a few games for my chess club.

She gave me $40 and I was able to buy four new chess games and four new checkers games.

So I just wanted to say thank you and Merry Christmas for her kindness.

Brenda Thevarge
Mount Currie

Reaching out in the kitchen

Many thanks to Brandon Barrett for his interest and amazing article about our Multicultural Community Kitchens (Pique, Dec. 8). I would just like to correct a couple of things and add some information.

Firstly, the cooking classes actually take place at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Social Service building in Spring Creek. Everyone is more than welcome to join the Czech Christmas Community Kitchen on Dec. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Secondly, the program was funded from two sources. As has been said, the program received $1,025 from the Community Foundation of Whistler. However, the Whistler Multicultural Network also received a $4,800 Community Enrichment Grant from the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Thanks to both of these grants, we have been able to run the Multicultural Community Kitchens, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RMOW and CFOW for their generosity.

Last but not least, I would like to invite everyone for Friday drop-in from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Welcome Centre at the Library. Whistler Multicultural Network, in cooperation with Whistler Public Library offers a place to meet and create, informative and educational programs for immigrants, newcomers, locals and visitors.

Barbora Vanickova
Multicultural Outreach Worker
Whistler Multicultural Network

World Cup sliding thanks

On Dec. 3, the first BMW IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton World Cup event of the 2016-17 season wrapped up at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

With many positive comments from the international jury members, coaches and athletes, I'd say it was a very successful event.

Many thanks has to go to all the people behind the scenes who made this show go: Robb Zirnhelt and Tracy Seitz and their rock-star track, TMR and control tower crews; Nicole Zirnhelt in the race office with Anna, Stuey, Philippe and Holly; Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton staff; and the numerous other Whistler Sport Legacies staff and volunteers.

Extra-special thanks to all the officials, especially our start and finish chiefs, who kept the playing field moving, safe and fair through long days with great professionalism and more than a bit of humour.

Heartfelt gratitude has to go to the Your Independent Grocer store and Whistler Cooks for keeping the officials fuelled throughout, and to Authentic/Pure-Source Water and its awesome delivery guy Simon for keeping both officials and athletes hydrated.

To the spectators, especially the fun and loud gang at the start during the four-man bobsleigh, many thanks from coaches and athletes — you all make it that much more fun for all the teams to compete.

Finally, congratulations to Nick Voss for taking on and surviving his first Race Directorship for WC Bobsleigh!

Diana Rochon
WC Skeleton Race Director

Christmas Bazaar thanks

St. David's annual Christmas Bazaar, held at Pemberton Secondary School on Saturday, Dec. 3 was a lovely, well attended, festive event.

The congregation at St. David's would like to thank all who helped make it happen: those who provided baking; those who helped move and set up tables before and after the event; those who organized and served at the cookie table, the white elephant table and the concession; AG foods for donated supplies; school district staff for their helpfulness before and during the bazaar.

Special thanks to the Pemberton Museum, the Pemberton Lion's Club, the Pemberton Rotary Club, the Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Signal Hill Elementary School and Richard Doucet for lending us tables for the event.

Sincere appreciation also goes out to the many participating vendors without them there would be no bazaar.

For those who helped and are not mentioned above, please accept our apology and be assured that your contribution has been greatly appreciated.

Thank you from St. David's to the whole community for attending and making this another successful Christmas Bazaar.

Mary Gilmore
St. David's United Church secretary
Glamorous Ladies in Pemberton!

Glamour and glitz

Growing Great Children wishes to thank everyone who came out to help us fundraise and celebrate at our annual Glamour and Glitz Ladies Night.

With DJ Pete Cronin spinning and some help from our talented dancers from the Gruff Goat Dance Troupe, the ladies enjoyed a night full of dancing, shopping, laughing and enjoying the company of amazing Pemberton women!

Thank you to the fabulous Amie LeBlanc for capturing the night in photos! New this year was our sparkling Spin and Win wheel with prizes were donated by Olive Us Glitter and Petro-Canada. With this wheel, we raised $317 for the Sangster family. Everyone was super eager to help out this wonderful family!

A big thank you to all our fabulous sponsors for the night! We had an amazing set of raffle prizes and silent auction items to spoil all of our ladies. With our amazing silent auction donations we raised $3,680 to put towards some of our initiatives such as new play equipment for One Mile Lake Park! A huge GGC thank you to Pemberton DJ, Sumire Designs, Mountain Glass, Olive Us Glitter, Village of Pemberton, Jean Konkle, Pemberton Valley Nursery, Cathy Benns, Pemberton Valley Wellness, Rona, Mountain Rose Parlour One Earth, Bogs Fabrics, The General Store, Four Seasons Hotel, Lodging Ovations, 21 Steps, Purebread, Whoola Toys, Mile One Eatery, Kufuka Fitness, Pemberton Valley Dental, Whistler Blackcomb, Claire Fuller – Babymule, Ascent Wellness, Blenz Coffee, Superfly, Tall Poppy Therapy, Allison Beierlein – Steeped Teas, Connections, Pemberton Pilates, Sandra McLaren, Sea to Sky Gondola, Scandinave Spa, Tadasana, Ruby Tuesday, West Coast Float, Forever, SLRD, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Whistler Olympic Park, Ivy Esthetics, Meghan Menzel, Angela Simpson, Erin Worrod, Amie LeBlanc, and the Black Squirrel. Thank you to all our vendors who help make the night complete with some great shopping: Tamara Beaton – Arbonne, Ellie Graf – Bambino's Closet, Erin Worrod – Eminence, Lindy Scott – Agnes and Dora, Charlotte Dutton – Pop up Boutique, Catherine Trueman – Stella and Dot, Michele Staehli – Prospect Street Thrift Store, Adelaide Leo – 31, and Christine Wilding – Norwex.

We hope to see you again next year. For anyone wishing to help out and join us, GGC meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at the SSCS office at 7:30 p.m. We are always open to new ideas and helpers! Come and tell us what you are passionate about in your family and your community.

Shannon Paul
Growing Great Children, Pemberton

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