Letters to the Editor for the week of December 27 

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Recycle Christmas trees at home

People living in the Northern Hemisphere have brought trees and boughs into their homes during the winter for thousands of years. The evergreens that we decorate with during Christmas can represent a celebration of holidays and a reminder that spring will come again.

I'm a Christmas tree traditionalist, and will never give up the ancient ritual of bringing a fresh tree into our home. Each year, Canada's 1,872 Christmas tree farms produce more than 3 million pine, spruce and fir trees. In addition to supporting Canadian famers, Christmas-tree plantations provide habitat for songbirds, including chipping sparrow and American robin.

But what happens to your Christmas tree after the holidays? 

We've come a long way since the days when Christmas trees were dumped into landfills. Most municipalities now have programs that chip and compost old trees. Some conservation groups even collect trees to create fish habitat or stop erosion along streams.

These are great ways to recycle your Christmas tree, but you can also let nature recycle your tree in your own backyard. It takes a little longer than hauling it to the curb, but you can give your tree a second life by giving it as a gift to wildlife. This small act of nature conservation can also help your family learn three lessons about how, even in death, trees are an important part of life and renewal in our Canadian forests.

Lesson 1: Gimme shelter: The first step in recycling your tree is easy. Just put it anywhere in your backyard until spring. Many of us do this anyway when we miss the pick-up for municipal tree recycling. 

Your Christmas tree will enrich your backyard ecosystem right away. Evergreens provide important shelter for birds on cold nights and during storms and as a safe place to rest while they visit your feeder. 

You can even use your old tree as a bird (and probably squirrel) feeder by redecorating it with pine cones filled with peanut butter, strings of peanuts and suet. 

Lesson 2: Downed woody debris: Come spring, your tree will probably have lost most of its needles and be looking like, well, a dead tree. It's time to put your tree to rest and help out your flowers by mimicking what happens with dead trees in forests.

Scientists call trees and branches on the forest floor "downed woody debris" (the cool scientists just say DWD). This debris is not trash. It is an important indicator of healthy forests by providing habitat, sheltering wildflowers, holding moisture and helping build the soil.

You can recreate DWD in your gardens. Cut off the tree's branches and lay them where spring flowers are starting to emerge. Lay the trunk on soil and it will provide a home for many backyard animals. Toads will find shelter under the log, and insects, including pollinators such as carpenter bees, will burrow into the wood.

Lesson 3: Spruce to soil: By fall, you'll start to witness the final stage in the life of your Christmas tree, as the branches and trunk begin to decompose and turn into soil. Many of our Christmas trees, particularly spruce and balsam fir, have very low rot resistance and break down quickly when exposed to the elements. The more contact the cut branches and trunk have with the ground, the faster it will start to be recycled by fungi, insects and bacteria.

After a few years, not much will remain of your tree. The needles and branches will have returned to soil, and the trunk will be soft with rot. It will just be a memory of your new tradition of backyard Christmas tree recycling.

Dan Kraus
Senior Conservation Biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada 

Please shop owners, close your doors

Before we start pointing fingers perhaps (Whistler) council and the (Whistler) Chamber of Commerce should think about all those open business doors in Whistler.

Apparently it's a "welcoming" thing, so no matter that the air conditioning is pumping hard or the furnace is burning through BTUs like there is no tomorrow, these machines are losing a temperature battle when doors stay open.

Our mayor (Jack Crompton) looks mighty stupid sending that letter when you consider how long this disgraceful waste of fuel has gone on.

Year after year; winter and summer; hundreds of stores. Well, you do the math.

That's a big footprint. Anne Townley's letter to the Pique (Nov. 11, 2018) was correct, and add to it the reason the rents are so high.

The landlords pay these ridiculous energy bills and repairs and pass it right along to the tenants who try to pass it along to us. I won't shop in a store with its doors open and I ask my family and visitors not to either. If you want to immediately save massive amounts of energy, have these businesses close their doors.

I challenge you to open your front door right now and just stand there. It won't take long for your furnace to kick in. Now imagine your door open for 12 hours. Then go for a stroll in the village and reflect on our mayor's letter.

As a resort, we waste a lot of energy. The snow makers were furiously making snow as fast as the temperature and rain were melting it.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Kathy Smith 
Whistler 

I live here, too

Hey Jack—allow me to congratulate you on your new position as mayor of Whistler!

As a Whistler resident myself, I watched the race and noticed that you became mayor because you ran and well ... because nobody else ran against you. Again, congratulations! It would seem that you have your work cut out for you. Whistler is a beautiful and unique place to live with unique challenges.

I noticed you wrote my employer (Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.) a letter suggesting they should be held financially responsible for what you feel is their role in climate change. I'm wondering, are you planning on writing the automobile manufacturers for all of people that drive dangerously? Perhaps the power company for all of the people that leave their lights on? Better yet, the alcohol manufacturers on behalf of all of the drunks?

If that's your logic, then being a man who's made a living off of using petroleum (through Whistler Resort Cabs and Ridebooker), your carbon footprint is many thousand times heavier than that (of) the average person.

We're talking Leonardo DiCaprio levels of consumption and hypocrisy. I wonder how much of your salary you're planning on contributing to efforts against climate change? At this point, maybe you should just give away your life savings, your children's education funds, too ... you're in deep.

For real, though, it takes balls to build businesses that rely strictly on petroleum and then turn around and point the finger at them. Especially after you've managed to establish a decent standard of living for yourself in Whistler of all places. That's like blaming your dealer for your drug habit. Questionable logic at best.

Now that we know a little about you, let's talk about me. I work in Alberta and live here (in Whistler). I own a modest home on which I pay property taxes. I spend my salary in many local businesses including: the resort itself, restaurants, grocery stores, hardware ... you name it. Come to think of it I've also used Whistler Resort Cabs and Ridebooker. What a coincidence!

I, too, use petroleum to commute between my work and home because it happens to be the current platform. Not that things can't be improved, but you don't hear me complaining about a system that's allowed me to have such a high quality of life. Why? Because that would be completely ridiculous and utterly unproductive.

Speaking of unproductive, while not under your leadership at the time, my tax dollars just helped pay for a $7-million bus stop with no walls or bathrooms.

Hmmm ... and you're talking about holding people accountable for waste? Look no further than your own council, my man!

If you want to be helpful, maybe get the brickwork in the village fixed up and while you're at it, fix the various roads that desperately need re-paving. Install some streetlights in Whistler (for Pete's sake), so I don't risk driving over the foolish pedestrians walking on the road wearing dark colours. Then there's the little housing crisis that smacks most locals in the face on a daily basis. You know ... the people who don't have the luxury of complaining about climate change.

In case you missed it, you work for me. My tax dollars pay your salary. Quit wasting my money writing foolish letters and get busy making Whistler a better place!

Todd Shymko
Whistler

Pot sales in Pemberton

In response to Lori Patrick's opposition to retail cannabis in downtown Pemberton, I say wake up and smell the coffee and all the other legal recreational drugs for sale in that vicinity (Pique, "Letters to the Editor" Nov. 29).

Coffee shops sell caffeine, a strong stimulant. Grocery stores sell sugar- and salt-laden, disease-causing junk foods. Gas bars sell the deadliest and most addictive (item) ... cigarettes. And, of course, liquor stores sell the most socially problematic of them all, alcohol.

Cannabis has been proven to be the lesser of all the evils—medical benefits, and not a single documented death. I realize it doesn't agree with, and is not suitable for, everyone. Neither are the others. We all make our own choices. Teenagers will make theirs as well, through trial and error, and there is nothing other than educating them that will change that.

We as citizens don't get to choose what type of business gets to fill empty retail space. This is up to the free market and municipal zoning. Retail success is tough in Pemberton and I've seen a lot of failures. Empty spaces breed more empty spaces.

The industrial site is where two huge warehouses will be growing the product, just as there are breweries and distilleries there, too.

Retail belongs in town.

Cannabis is an opportunity to inject the local economy with something that will be regulated and taxed. Our federal government is now supporting this enterprise.

What's even more surprising is the lack of enthusiasm for these types of ventures in Whistler. This is a new type of tourism and far less disruptive than bars and nightclubs. Fear mongering and sheltering our children has failed miserably in the past.

There is nothing to be afraid of.

Mike Roger
Birken

Holiday Market thanks

On behalf of Squamish Waldorf School, we'd like to extend huge wreaths of thanks to everyone who attended our Sip 'n' Shop Night Market and Christmas Fair ... on Dec. 8, to shop handmade crafts, enjoy family activities and participate in making unique holiday crafts.

Many thanks also to our wonderful parent volunteers, whose time and heart make this annual event so special.

We are grateful for the generosity of local businesses who donated their products and services: Nesters Market, Saha Eatery, Kululu Café, Mag's 99, Starbucks Garibaldi Village and Hilltop House.

It truly takes a community to host an event, and we feel blessed by the generous spirit of our Squamish community.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season.

Gabriel Alden Hull, principal
Squamish Waldorf School

Celebrating together

On Dec. 5, a fine party with holiday carols, singing, dinner and dancing was enjoyed by the Mature Action Community Society.

Nearly all of the 75 attendees danced and sang along with the vintage tunes.

Stockings and chimneys full of thanks to Bruce and Ian at Nesters Market, Ravi at the Your Independent Grocer, Creekside Market, Scandinave Spa and all the kind donors who contributed to this well-enjoyed event full of laughs, hugs and cheer.

With festive greetings and appreciation,

Janice Lloyd
Social Committee chair, board member Mature Action Community Society

Making a difference

Thank you to all the people who bought our candles at the Whistler Waldorf Christmas Craft Fair.

We raised $200 for the Pemberton Christmas Hampers program.

For our school community-service project, we learned that ordinary people can make a difference in the world.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Katrina Nightingale (teacher), and Grades 5 to 7 students Dylan, Leo, Bridger, Deegan, and Aiden
Pemberton

Services available

The local medical community shares patients' disappointment regarding the departure of Dr. Kim MacDonald, an excellent physician, but despite the closure of his facility in Squamish, medical abortion does remain available in the corridor, right here in Whistler, through Whistler Medical Clinic.

It is available for almost anyone under 62 days gestation. It is free for those with B.C. provincial medical coverage.

Dr. Thomas DeMarco
Whistler

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