Letters to the Editor for the week of January 9 


Highway 99 lines impossible to see

I work as a professional driver in Whistler and feel like I take my life (and those of others) in my hands on many nights [when I] go to work because the highway lines are impossible or nearly impossible to see.

More so when it is raining or snowing.

And it's only the beginning of winter.

The situation goes on beyond the municipal boundaries of Whistler and affects the entire Sea to Sky corridor. I believe it's up to our municipal council(s), the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, and our MLA Jordan Sturdy to act now to lobby the provincial government to finally make a commitment to do something about it.

It's their job and obligation to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors to the area and collectively they have failed us because they very obviously don't take this situation seriously.

The Island Highway has new high-visibility lines [along] its entire route (and it's a straight line). Why not here on a much more difficult highway to navigate, even in good weather?

Don Whiteside // Whistler

Get it done

It's going to be interesting to see what the federal and provincial governments are going to do at the Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River.

It looks like the only thing that can be done is to drill and blast.

It is so hard to get to, I've read, but I've seen drills 500 metres up a cliff working away.

Will government wait and wait? Is that their game?

Maybe [private citizens] or First Nations will have to wear the T-shirt that says, "Just Do It."

Get it done. Keep drilling and blasting until it's done.

The water is lower now. Are they going to wait until spring and put other salmon runs at risk?

A lot of people are watching.

Dave Bennett // Whistler

Hot-water heating cheaper than DES

In a 2012 white paper, The Regulation of District Energy Systems (DES) by The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, University of Victoria that reviewed both private and public district energy systems including Whistler's DES system, Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staff estimated that the cost of energy for heat-pump systems (hydro plus DES fees) would be about 84 per cent of the energy costs for electric baseboard hot-water heating (hydro only).

What was not mentioned was the associated capital costs of installing heat-pump systems compared to the capital costs of installing electric baseboard hot-water heating systems.

The cost of parts and labour to install electric baseboard hot water heating would be approximately $5,000 compared to the cost of parts and labour, estimated at $35,000, to install a heat-pump system: $30,000 more for the heat-pump system.

The capital cost of the 100-square-foot mechanical room for the heat-pump system in my townhouse at $300 per sq.ft. is approximately $30,000. Water heaters for electric baseboard hot-water heating systems can usually be installed in four square feet of closet space. At $30,000 per sq.ft. the capital cost would be approximately $1,200 for electric baseboard hot water heating; $28,800 more for the heat-pump system.

In terms of operating costs, hydro averaged $126/month in my last annual billing cycle of which 50 per cent was for space and water heating; $63. DES fees added $48/month for an average monthly total cost of energy of about $110. Based on RMOW staff estimates, installing electric baseboard water heating would result in a $21/month increase in the cost of energy (hydro) for a total of $131/month compared to $110/month cost of energy (hydro plus DES fees) for the heat pump system: $21 less in the cost of energy for the heat pump system.

The cost of maintenance deemed "critical" for the heat pump system averages $50/month compared to zero dollars for electric baseboard hot-water heating: $50/month more for the heat pump system.

The 10-year replacement cost for the two water heaters for the heat-pump system is estimated at $7,500 compared to an estimated 10-year replacement cost of $1,500 for the water heater for the electric baseboard hot-water heating system: $62.50/month compared to $12.50/month and $50/month more for the heat pump system.

The above operating costs do not include the cost of repairs and replacement of system components such as the heat pump. The cost of repairs and replacement of components for the electric baseboard hot-water heating system is minimal.

When capital and operating costs are analyzed, electric baseboard hot water heating is $58,800 less to install and $79/month less to operate than the heat-pump system.

In terms of [being] green, the DES white paper concluded, "to justify the development of DE systems solely on the basis of narrowly focused 'lower carbon emissions' is insufficient, particularly in BC with its low carbon electricity."

Whistler's zeal to be green at any cost appears to have pre-empted a process of due diligence that would have included, at the very least, a financial cost/benefit analysis. 

The District Energy white paper states that systems regulated by political bodies do not offer the same level of customer protection, particularly when the regulator is also the system owner and has mandated a monopoly, or where the political body may not be adequately fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities. (Unlike a water or sewer customer where almost all users are voting taxpayers, the small customer base of a municipal system wields minimal influence.)

Ultimately, Whistler's zeal to be green has manifested in affordable housing with a heating system that is unaffordable to operate and maintain thus placing an onerous financial burden on the very Whistler residents Whistler Housing Authority housing is supposed to help.

David MacPhail // Whistler

Alzheimer's awareness campaign challenges stigma 

According to a B.C. survey conducted by Insights West in 2018, more than 70 per cent of respondents felt people living with dementia experience stigma. 

Stigma—which is negative attitudes and misconceptions held by family, friends and professionals—could be a barrier that prevents people from seeking out a diagnosis if they are beginning to see possible symptoms, or it may keep them from accessing services.

This January, residents of Whistler are invited to take part in Alzheimer's Awareness Month, a national campaign focused on changing the general public's perceptions of what it means to live with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Changing perceptions is key to reducing stigma, which ultimately supports people living with dementia to stay active and engaged in the community.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. connects people living with dementia, their caregivers and family members to support and education at any point in the disease through First Link dementia support.

Whistler residents can connect to support by asking their health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. To learn more about the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and Alzheimer's Awareness Month, visit alzheimerbc.org.

Ben Rawluk // Coordinator, Marketing and Communications, Alzheimer Society of B.C.

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