Letters to the editor for the week of July 10th 

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Symphony perfect for plaza

The decision to remove a grove of long-standing trees for such vain short-lived use as an Olympic medal plaza seemed a perfect fulfillment of Joni Mitchell's 1970 song ("Big Yellow Taxi").

Physically the trees have been removed but their mysticism stills stands — their transcendent energies still pervade the blessed ground just transformed into sight and sound through the human hand — (composer Richard) Wagner's dream here fulfilled by the (municipality) providing music free to its citizens. Symphonic music created in Vienna to lift its listeners above the world of illusion (Tristan and Isolde) has found a new mountain outlet here in Whistler.

The successful VSO concerts should become a Whistler tradition. A rite of summer.

Here the primeval organs of creation (Wagner's belief of musical instruments) can transmit their sacred vibrations unhindered by human structures, free from noise pollution and recharge our tired souls.   

Andrew Lytwyn


Voting Green

I agree with Rob Neaga of Squamish, who challenges GD Maxwell's belief that a vote for The Green Party is a wasted vote (Pique June 26).

If the people of Saanich-Gulf Islands had continued to believe that, Elizabeth May would not now be leader of The Green Party, and if the people of Oak Bay-Gordon Head had believed it, Andrew Weaver would not be sitting as the first ever Green MLA in Victoria.

I think that the voters in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding have the best chance of electing another Green candidate, and now, with the many industrial threats to Howe Sound, it could not be a more opportune time.

We are fortunate, indeed, to live in the most beautiful place on earth, but much of that beauty, as well as its health, will be sullied unless we are prepared to vote for a party, which has as its priority protection (of the environment).

Currently, we are threatened by an LNG plant with potentially lethal floating storage tanks at Woodfibre and LNG tankers plying Howe Sound, ruining the spectacular view from the new Sea to Sky gondola and, once more, destroying the wealth of marine life that has returned in recent years.

A gas leak, or explosion, would be catastrophic and do irreparable damage to recreation and tourism all through the Sea to Sky corridor.

Our government has, in recent years, spent over $100 million of taxpayers' money to clean up past industrial sites, so why does it now want to re-industrialize Howe Sound with an LNG plant as well as a gravel pit at McNab Creek and a logging operation on Gambier Island all of which will be highly visible from the Sea to Sky highway? We will lose, forever, much of what tourists find so awe inspiring on their way up to Whistler.

Let's aim to elect Green candidates who will consider safe and sustainable ways to increase employment rather than continuing to vote for parties that will destroy our inheritance and that of future generations.

Our generation, and those of the past, have raped and pillaged the earth for long enough. It cannot continue.

If we can get four Green candidates elected, the party will gain official status and finally have some clout.

Think Green!

Rose Dudley

Lions Bay

Meet the new boss

As a genuine non-native Canadian, G.D. Maxwell can be forgiven for his lack of knowledge of the history of British Columbia, but as an expatriate American, he should be aware of the date 1776, the year that thirteen British colonies broke away from their motherland (Pique July 3).

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 preceded the U.S. revolution and therefore applied to all of the British colonies in the New World. Maxwell is correct in his assertion that "the British Crown... really only cared about mercantile interests... beaver pelts and such" as it was the major shareholder in the Hudson's Bay fur trading corporation.

The Royal Proclamation aimed to slow European settlement in the New World and limit it to the east of the Appalachian Mountains by stating that in order for land to be lawfully ceded to the Crown, treaties must be signed with the native peoples inhabiting it because, seven years of indentured labour freed them to claim their own land, when settlers showed up they cleared forests, dammed rivers and chased fur-bearing animals away along with the native trappers employed by the HBC.

The real purpose of the 1763 Royal Proclamation was not so a faraway foreign king could grant aboriginal title to lands he'd never seen, but to protect the Crown's fur trading profits. Some historians say this was the real cause of the U.S. War of Independence, not the issue of taxation, as colonists continued to pour over the mountains to seek new land to settle.

In contrast, Canada remained under the authority of the British Crown and treated with aboriginal peoples across the country as European settlement moved west thus sparing us the bloody history of the U.S. Indian Wars.

The reason B.C. First Nations didn't sign land treaties was because (at first few came here as) it was not inviting to settlers due to the rugged landscape, isolation by mountain ranges from the rest of Canada and the arduous trip around Cape Horn to travel here by sea.

Despite this, European traders began showing up on the west coast in the 1700s with goods so much desired by native inhabitants that they willingly hunted the sea otter to near extinction in order to obtain them. Prior to the coming of the traders with metal tools, the most valuable trade good on the west coast was a jade adze, which was said to be worth "one to three slaves," as a human life without any rights or freedoms whatsoever was considered a unit of currency.

In keeping with British law, James Douglas, the mulatto first Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island who was himself married to the daughter of a Cree woman, undertook to negotiate and sign treaties with aboriginal peoples and a certain percentage of southern Vancouver Island is treatied land. The portion of northern B.C. east of the Rocky Mountains now known as the Oilpatch was also treatied along with the rest of Cree Territory in Alberta.

Governor Douglas's treaty making was interrupted by the discovery of gold in the Fraser Canyon in 1858 and, within a year, a horde of 30,000 American miners flooded into B.C. from California where they'd had their own gold rush a decade previously.

Like Maxwell, the newly arrived Americans were ignorant of the implications of the Royal Proclamation still in effect in British colonies and simply pushed the natives aside, so they could proceed to plunder the Fraser of its treasure. Not surprisingly, a war between the miners and the aboriginals threatened to bloody the Canyon.

Treatied land or not, the border between Canada and the U.S. had already been established as the 49th parallel by the Oregon Treaty in 1846 and the U.S. Cavalry were waiting for the first shots to be fired at which point they would sound the bugle, ride north to protect the Americans and, while they were at it, claim the gold-bearing Fraser for the U.S.  

At least that was the plan until Governor Douglas negotiated a treaty with Chief Spintlam of the Lytton Band to declare B.C. a crown colony ahead of the treaties being signed because at that point, the U.S. would have been invading Britain and not untreatied Indian Territory.

If Douglas and Spintlam had not taken that step, mainland B.C. would have undoubtedly been annexed to the U.S. where "the only good Indian is a dead Indian," Canada would end at the Rockies and Vancouver Island would probably be an independent nation.

Instead, B.C. became part of Canada where native rights are protected. Or are they?

At this point in time, the use of the terms "native," meaning that one was born in the land they inhabit, and "non-native" to describe anyone without a federal status number is pejorative and insulting to generations of British Columbians, many descended from aboriginals themselves, who were born and raised here and have no other cultural affiliation.

If the Indian Act no longer applies to Tsilhqot'in title lands, what obligation is there for the rest of us to subsidize them to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year?

Five of the eight Supreme Court judges who ruled unanimously on the Tsilhqot'in case were appointed by Harper, and it is somewhat naïve to think that their decision proves our judiciary is independent from government influence.

Like the Royal Proclamation, there might be a hidden agenda behind the decision, one that aims to use First Nations as a bankrupt stepping stone to privatize lands and resources that actually belong to all B.C. natives, and in the true sense of the original native relationship to the land, to none of us.

Although in widespread use across Turtle Island at the time of the coming of the settlers, the origins of the Medicine Wheel are lost in time but it depicts, much like the racial makeup of modern B.C., four races balanced in harmony without one or another dominating the other three.

Unless, a solution is arrived at that equally enfranchises all of the children native to the best place on Earth as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, what some may call justice is just more injustice.

Allocating rights and privileges based on racial makeup is racism. In this case, the "Supremes" are echoing the Who and all native British Columbians, whether status or non, better hope we don't get fooled again.

Jane Carrico

Lillooet, B.C.

Pemby fest not reaching local bands

I am writing to voice my opinion on the recent "competition" format that was held at the golf course in Pemberton to find a "qualified" band to play on the first night of the new Pemberton festival for free.

As a local Pemberton/Whistler resident of 24 years and musician of 30 plus years, I was put off right away by Huka entertainment's approach to appeasing the wishes of local talent to play at the upcoming festival.

(The event as organized) is something that is usually held in a high-school gymnasium for up-and-coming bands of high-school age that have little experience performing, as a showcase to their student body who can then pick their favorite band as a winner — it's fun in that environment.

But for people who take pride in the music they play, and have spent years writing and rehearsing, this is a joke.

I have always kept to myself when it comes to writing about my opinion publicly — I prefer to tell things that bother me about something directly to the offender.

I have always said that Live Nation productions put on a great first Pemby Fest, considering the short time frame in which they had to work with. It was a great line-up even if I am not a Coldplay fan, (and) the band I play in, and almost all other local talent, was included and paid.

But for this organization to come in to our town and bring in a mediocre line-up, in my opinion, and then dis the local and very capable talent pool by offering this as an olive branch, spits in the face of what we hoped for, for this type of event.

The local owner/operator strung a lot of people along over the setting up of this event and should be feeling a bit stupid for allowing this to happen.

We all like making money but at whose expense? I for one will not be attending this fest, as there is not one band that appeals to me — I guess that the location demands a very diverse line-up to sell tickets.

I will gladly spend the weekend at the lake away from the masses.

I have played hundreds of live gigs, to crowds in the thousands, in all sorts of different places around Canada, but there is something special about playing in your hometown, in front of people you know.

That won't happen this year for me or my band mates, and all the other local musicians and performers who call Pemberton and Whistler their home.

It's unfortunate as it is something that I had been looking forward to for a while.

It's also unfortunate for the (festival organization), which has now flown the flag of choice about including the town it's making money from.

Here's hoping for a different turnout for next year. Of course I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

Tom Rimmer


Road conditions should determine speed

As a regular commuter on Hwy 99 north of Whistler I would like to convey a public safety announcement, of sorts.

Perhaps related to recent increased industrial usage of Hwy 99 we are seeing severe deterioration of road surface.

Over the last few weeks I have witnessed trailers towed by holiday makers become airborne only to bounce off the tow vehicle and end up off the shoulder.

For those heading northbound take care past Wedgewoods, as that is the worse section for bumps and heaves.

The recent news that highway speeds will increase along this section is contradictory to ability of existing roadway to safely accommodate that increase. The reality is that one needs to slow down at the numerous bad sections, especially if towing something of value.  

Steve Anderson


Drivers aren't good enough for higher speed limits

Despite the statistical likelihood of more death and carnage, and the opposition of police and commercial truckers, the province saw fit to raise the speed limits in southern B.C., including the Sea to Sky Highway.

The section between Squamish and Whistler now has a maximum of 100km/h despite the fact that the road is curvy, hilly, dark at night, prone to fog and bad weather, populated with a variety of wildlife, and has only a few divided sections to keep cars apart. The outcome is too predictable.

A U.S. study on the impact of raising speed limits above 55mph after 1987 showed that an increase from 55mph to 65mph resulted in a relatively minor three per cent increase in the number of crashes, but with a 24 per cent increase in the likelihood of a fatal injury. When the limit was raised to 75mph the chance of being in an accident increased less than one per cent, while the likelihood of a fatal injury grew by another 13 per cent.

What do those numbers mean? In a 10-year study period, that translated to approximately 12,500 additional deaths and 36,500 additional injuries on top of the usual average! Every one of those 12,500 people had family and friends, as well as a cost to the emergency response and health care system.

Instead of raising speed limits, I'd rather the province focused efforts on raising the skill level of drivers.

Too many drivers don't seem to understand simple concepts like staying right and passing left, maintaining a safe following distance, safe braking distance, adjusting speed to conditions, giving cyclists space, driving at night, proper merging, checking blind spots, not talking on phones, not eating and drinking (including alcohol), or even staying to the right of a double yellow line.

People haven't quite grasped the fact that you're not supposed to put those ultra-bright blue LED headlights in enclosures that weren't made for them, or the idea that the speed limit is supposed to be the maximum — not the suggested minimum that you can go 10-15km/h over without getting a ticket.

The result is that in my 15 years living in Whistler and driving the Sea to Sky, I've had far too many close calls already.

Until this province can raise the skill, education and, yes, even the empathy of drivers on our roads, they have no business raising speed limits. I know that's not a popular opinion, but as long as accidents happen our goal should be to reduce the consequences of the mistakes that anybody can make.

By the way, did I miss the announcement where we fixed this whole climate change thing?

Last I checked, 99 per cent of cars still use fossil fuels and burn more fuel when they drive faster. That alone should be reason enough to keep our speed limits where they are.

Andrew Mitchell


Grateful for great care

After our son had a terrible crash in the Whistler bike park Thursday, we received the very best care and attention from everyone involved.

Thanks go to his DFX instructor Jenn, his buddy Nick, WB Safety, the Whistler Emergency staff including Dr. Annie Gareau. Much appreciation also to Randy, Cathryn, Guy and the rest of the B.C. air ambulance staff.

In Vancouver the fantastic team of doctors, staff and nurses at Children's Hospital were also exemplary.  

Thanks Jacob for being so brave and independent, Lesley for coming to the rescue and all of the others, too many to mention, who made us feel supported, cared about and loved.

Through those traumatic days, we felt like we were always in the very best hands.

Julien is broken, battered and bruised but doing OK.  

Catherine and Michel Chartrand


There when you need them

It seems that almost every week I open the Pique to read a heartfelt letter written by a local who has suffered some sort of severe injury doing something awesome, then thanking the paramedics, doctors, friends, and family who have helped them.

I always love reading these letters, knowing that if such a nasty curveball ever came my way, I'd be in capable and caring hands.

Well, on June 21, which was a perfect and beautiful day, I got my curveball.

I was unfortunate enough to experience the dreaded broken femur while paragliding in Pemberton.

However, that's where my bad luck ended. I've never experienced so much help in a 24-hour span. The first responders at the scene, SAR volunteers, paramedics, all the doctors, nurses, and technicians both in Whistler and Vancouver — you were all amazing and so professional. I knew I was in talented, caring and experienced hands.

I never once felt nervous, scared or unsure of the fact that I would be OK.

My friends have been just as amazing; I honestly couldn't be any luckier.

My mum even flew out from Ontario, which as everyone knows, is the best-known comfort around. So thank you mum, I love you and hope to never put you through something like this again, even though this wasn't the first, or second, or even the third time I've seriously injured myself. Sorry mum, you're a trooper for putting up with my shenanigans.

I really want to list everyone who visited, helped or continue to help out in one way or another, but the list would take up the entire Pique, so I'll have to keep it short and to the people who have really gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Thank you all, you're amazing and I love you! (Please go to www.piquenewsmagazine.com for my complete thank-you list.)

Ian McLaughlin


Peddling thanks

Many thanks to the sponsors, volunteers and 70-plus cyclists who supported the annual Bicycles for Humanity Summer Solstice fundraiser ride on June 21.

The route took riders from Rainbow Park to Pemberton and back to the park for a delicious BBQ.

Thanks to Pique, Whistler Village Sports, Cardinal Meats, Pepsi & Frito Lay, Probar and Creekside Market.

Raffle draw prizes generously donated by Peak Performance Physio & Massage, Merlin's, Pemberton Meadows Golf Course, Innovative Fitness, West Coast Float... and a special Grand Prize, Will Routley's very own KOM Tour of California jersey!

All funds raised go to the grass roots Bicycles for Humanity organization, which ships used bicycles to Africa for much needed transportation.

Find out more at http://bicycles-for-humanity.org/ and come join us same time next year!

Janet Brown and Greg Newton


Thank-you to the Arts Council

Thank you for the Whistler Arts Award. It really pushed me to do my best and it meant a lot that I won this award. I truly appreciate all the hard work and time you put into this community. Thank you for bringing the joy of art to Sea to Sky.

Sierra Grant


Paddlers say thanks

The Pemberton Canoe Association would like to thank the Pemberton Women's Institute for its generous donation to our paddlers going to the BC Summer Games.

We appreciate the support for our young flat-water paddlers to compete at this wonderful event that they will remember for a lifetime.

This donation will go a long way in reducing the cost for these paddlers and their families.

Karen Tomlinson for the PCA board



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