Letters to the Editor for the week of January 21st 

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Cater to all tastes

I am writing in response to letters published in Pique concerning vegan-only food in the Raven's Nest on Whistler Mountain.

I have no beef with vegans, but the heat created by such righteous indignation has probably caused more global warming than any steak I've ever eaten.

One could produce many books and documentaries on the influence of diet and food choices on our planet. It is a very worthy topic. However, all I wanted to do was make a few points about the change in menu in the Raven's Nest, one of my favourite spots on the mountain.

I do not believe that Whistler Blackcomb should have a vegan-only restaurant — why not have a choice at the Raven's Nest?

If you are going to serve vegetarian food, there are lots of delicious options that don't involve processed vegetable paste (Gardein).

If you are going to serve Gardein, at least be honest about the food description. There is no chicken in a vegan chicken pita pocket — it is Gardein chunks/bits with added artificial chicken flavour. There is no meat in vegan meatball sub — it is a Gardein-ball sub with who-knows-what added flavour.

Why not cater for all (reasonable) tastes?

Ciaran Keogh

Time for shock treatment signs?

In last week's Pique (Jan. 14), there was a thoughtful "Letter to the Editor" by Janet Brown of Whistler, adding to a number of recent comments in our Whistler media, which have referred to the fact that one of the riskiest skiing experiences in the Whistler area is to ski out of bounds into the dangerous Cake Hole or Khyber area on the Cheakamus Lake side of Whistler Mountain.

While all sports involve some degree of risk, many individuals who accept the risk of skiing out-of-bounds are simply not equipped to assess the degree of risk they are taking, nor are they equipped to deal with the consequences of having taken such a risk, including the essential requirement of proper survival gear.

Other high-risk sports in which I have participated involve certain scuba diving activities, including under-ice diving and wreck diving. Likely the most risky scuba diving experience in the world involves diving in the Cenote underground caves in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

A Cenote is a natural pit resulting from the collapse of bedrock, and there is an extensive network of such cenotes in this region of Mexico, filled with fresh water and connected by underground rivers.

These ancient sinkholes and caverns are the main dive attraction in the Yucatan Peninsula, and these cenotes contain stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites, originally formed when these caves were above the water table millions of years ago.

Entering in diving gear into what looks like a surface pond, one descends to a labyrinth of water- filled caverns, frequently connected by narrow and constricted passageways. Due to the absence of natural light (navigation can be challenging) and, the complete darkness can cause claustrophobic reactions even for experienced wreck divers.

While the waters in the cenotes are fresh and crystal clear, silt kicked up by diving companions can blur one's vision, reducing the range of light from one's diving torch to just a few centimetres, quickly causing complete disorientation. With panic likely, the chance of successfully retracing one's route through multiple cenotes and back to the surface can be very low, and death can be the tragic result.

In those cenotes where I have dived, fellow divers, including members of local diving clubs, have placed guide ropes on cave floors and narrow passageways, helping to lead one back to the surface. However, due to possible visibility issues including silt covering these lines, they can be impossible to find.

Further increasing the risk is the possible onset of nitrogen narcosis, a condition that occurs in divers breathing compressed air. Referred to as "rapture of the deep," it is a state of euphoria, which may be comparable to alcohol intoxication, with associated impairment of judgment.

While nitrogen narcosis is not associated with skiing, those who ski beyond marked boundaries into the Cake Hole area are likely to also be affected by a sense of euphoria (powder snow ahead!) and a lack of judgment including adequate risk assessment.

I agree with Janet Brown's comments printed by the Pique. Bigger, better, stronger signage would likely help people make informed and sensible decisions. We have such signage on cigarette packages, and its effect has been documented. 

In the cenote caves where I have dived, at the tempting underwater entrances to further — although life threatening — caverns and narrow passages, there are large underwater signs with a skull and crossbones, and with arrows pointing towards the dangerous entrances to these additional tempting cave wonders. No words in any language are needed. The shock effect does the trick.

Such large signage, including the skull and crossbones motif used in Mexico's cenotes, might significantly shock people into making the right decision, and this will save lives here in Whistler.

Doug Garnett

Just Not Ready?

The people have spoken and Canada has a new Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Under our democratic system we will move forward "for better or for worse."

Thoughtful Canadians should consider some pre and post-election facts: During his campaign Mr. Trudeau said, "I'm not ready to stand by as our economy slides into recession."

The Liberal Party has decided to stimulate our economy by massive spending over the next few years, which will drive the country into massive debt, and yet they have not presented a cost-benefit analysis. According to an article in the Toronto Sun (Jan. 18, 2016), "Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will dig Canada even deeper into the perpetual stimulus rut. Trudeau added insult to injury by pledging historic investments in green infrastructure which the Liberals predict will grow the economy."

Think about this — Canada's economy is inextricably tied to major world economies such as the U.S., China and Europe. The proposed stimulus plan will provide short-term jobs and a minor bump in the GDP. The downside: massive debt, which will have to be paid by future generations.

Business News Network reported that BMO Capital says at best "stimulus would lift GDP growth by a bit more than 0.5 per cent in 2016." TD says the plan could boost annual growth by 0.1 per cent in 2016 and 0.3 per cent in 2017. Hardly a major stimulus to the economy!

A campaign promise to bring 25,000 refugee claimants to Canada by the end of 2015 was a noble idea but not carefully thought through. Yes, we want to (and should) do our part in helping settle refugees in Canada. The problem is "too many too soon" has led to problems finding affordable housing and less than acceptable conditions for the newly arrived families. (And less than half of the promised 25,000 have landed in the country to date.)

Further, the Trudeau government wants to repeal the First Nations Transparency Act. This legislation ensures accountability of First Nations for funds provided to them by Canadian taxpayers and has already revealed some shocking examples that have led to some chiefs being removed from office by their band members. All senior officers of private and Crown corporations, court officers, etc. have their compensation publicly disclosed. Why would we want to repeal this act?

Lastly, the government appears to believe that Parliament can make the decision to amend the electoral process without a referendum by the people of Canada. Are you comfortable with this? I'm not!

Let's be vigilant over the next four years and express our concerns to our Member of Parliament.

Robert Cessford

Tapley's memories

I had to smile when I saw the photo of Tapley's Pub on opening day in the Pique last week (Jan. 14, "Epicurious").

That is me behind the bar (on the left) and Ross on the right.

It was quite an opening day, and quite a year for the first pub in the village.

I have to thank Tapley's for more than just giving me my first job in Whistler. A couple of weeks after we opened, I went in for my shift and I saw this beautiful, young ski bunny sitting there in the bar. It was a chance meeting that changed my life, as we ended up getting married a few years later. Adrienne and I are still together 35 years later, and still in Whistler, living the dream!

Cheers to Tapley's for everything!

Al Mattson

Winter gear for the homeless

During November and December, the We Take Action group and the Leadership class at Whistler Secondary collected winter clothing and gear to take to Vancouver to help out people in homelessness circumstances in the Downtown Eastside.

Along with the things dropped off by the school community, more donations came in from more Whistler locals and businesses!

We would like to say a massive thank-you to the Whistler organizations and individuals who took out their time to help donate a school-bus-load of winter gear for the First United Community Church Ministry Society, on East Hastings.

We, the students, spent a day there and learned so much. We were given a tour of their facilities and learned about the incredible people who volunteer and work there, all whilst gaining an immense respect for those who benefit from their work.

Thank you for exceeding our goals in donations and helping create this valuable experience for us.

Caitlin Patterson
We Take Action and Leadership students at Whistler Secondary

Remembering Dr. Dave

I wonder what it's like to live on Cloud 9
Where everything's fine all of the time?
I wonder how it feels to be unafraid
Day after day after it rains?
Someday, somehow
Before too long
I'll say goodbye to my burdens
I'll fly beyond the sun.
I wonder what it's like in the shade of a tree
Shooting the breeze being carefree?
I wonder what I'd choose if given the choice
Between silence and noise
Words or a voice?
Someday, somehow
Before too long
I'll say goodbye to my burdens
I'll fly beyond the sun.

We miss you Dave Morris, we hope that the music continues to shine, strum and sing sweetly over you.

From all of your Sea to Sky corridor friends and local Whistler musicians.

Gary Yoshida

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