Letters to the Editor for the week of June 23rd 

  • Photo by mike crane/Tourism Whistler

Safety first

In response to remarks made during the Whistler Community Forum on Wednesday June 15, we, at the Whistler Sailing Association (WSA), want to emphasize that both safety and respect for our community are core values.

Water Safety — Speed: All our boat operators are certified sailing instructors who have completed the Power Craft Operators Certificate, and completed in-depth instruction on water safety, water rescue, rules of the road and boat operator rules for Alta Lake. The speed limit of 12km/h on Alta Lake is strictly adhered to unless there is an emergency or the safety of our sailors is at risk. There are other powerboats users on Alta Lake, including the Whistler Fire Department, when practicing rescues.

Water Safety — Loading of boats: Transport Canada notes the weight load limit on the hull of each boat. Our boats' capacities range from 1,000 to 1,700 lbs., and are never overloaded. Furthermore, each passenger must have a proper seat and hand-hold prior to leaving the dock. We put the safety of our students as the No. 1 priority.

Water Safety — Life Jackets: Every passenger in a WSA boat (sail or power) must wear a properly fitted lifejacket whenever in our boats and when on the docks. Younger children are only permitted to remove lifejackets when indoors.

Water Safety — Helping Others: When canoes or paddle-boarders are blown towards the shoreline in high winds, we assist in helping the paddlers and boaters get back to safety. Even last week a catamaran, operated by a member of the public, capsized and was in peril. WSA came to the rescue.

We see the use of motorboats as a privilege and as a serious responsibility. We respect the neighbourhood and abide by the local rules and highest levels of safety.

Should you have any questions please contact head coach and GM Francois Hebert at 604-902-4836, or president Patrick McCurdy at 604-932-7782 or info@whistlersailing.com.

Patrick McCurdy for the The Board and Staff at Whistler Sailing Association

Be part of the solution

This is probably the first article I've read about garbage in our local paper since I moved here (Pique, June 9).

Our newspapers usually, first, highlight all the niceties of our town and tend to bury these kinds of negative stories.  As much as I appreciate the editorial, I'd like to say it doesn't go far enough and it sounds defeatist, albeit not necessarily on your part.

The River of Golden Dreams is clean compared to other places. At least that river has someone go in after the pigs and clean up. Have you ever walked into Logger's Lake?  It's an open cesspool — toilet paper everywhere. And it's not the only place.  

I was mushroom picking with someone in a very popular area when she dropped her pants, took a pee, and left the paper. I asked if she was going to pick it up and she said, "Oh no, it'll decompose there."

I said, "It's GARBAGE! Do you think other people want to look at that? At least bury it!"   It was like she didn't even hear me.

It's true, signs won't help if people can't read English but pictures might. I prefer a picture of a person squatting with pants down, dropping toilet paper with a big X through it. Put this next to the dog-poop bags.

We were at the boat launch at Green Lake and there was a large party of tourists who simply dumped their garbage on the ground even though there was a garbage can a metre away. My husband picked it up without a word and dropped it in the can. Every last one of them made a point of turning their backs to him when he did this.  

Another kind of garbage that's intolerable is things people deliberately release into the environment like balloons, or floating lanterns, or rubber duckies in our river as a fundraiser.

They don't do rubber duckies anymore, but seriously who ever thought it was a good idea in the first place?

Then there are people who do something more natural like release pigeons at ceremonies. I know people call them doves, but they are pigeons and shouldn't be released at all unless it's in their native environment.

We have friends in Chilliwack who have walnut and hazel nut trees.  The trees are still there but now grey squirrels get every single nut just because some idiot pest remover decided to release them in an area they were never in.   

Driving back from Pemberton/Mt. Currie we saw a man get out of his truck and drop a garbage bag into a marshy area feeding into Green River. I thought, 'nice of him to drive to Whistler to do that — five minutes away from a compactor.'

I asked him what he dumped and he said, "It's just a dead dog. I'll bury it" and took it with him. The local RCMP weren't interested — no crime had been committed since he took the bag.

The person who answered the phone (at the RCMP) gave me attitude and treated me like an imbecile for having called in the first place (judging from the heavy sighs). I asked if they could at least follow up.  An officer called back and expressed regret the man had taken the bag because now they couldn't fine him, but he left me with the impression he might follow up.  By the time I could get my camera out he was already coming back to the truck so the best I could do was a plate number.

Stop anywhere on the Sea to Sky Highway where there's a road or rest stop.  You'll find toilets, bags of takeout food containers, chip bags, rusty old cars, very few empties these days, more empty ice bags than plastic shopping bags, broken furniture, cigarette packets and coffee cups — since they're sometimes piled in one spot on certain roads I'm assuming it's the result of workmen in the area — companies could do more to educate their employees.

It wasn't all that uncommon to see empty gas and oil containers after they put in the Sea to Sky Trail — not on the trail itself, but where workmen parked.  

We drove into Daisy Lake for some mushroom picking, walked in about 30 or so metres and there, tucked behind a tree, was a full green garbage bag — diapers judging from the smell.  Why they didn't use one of the many cans along the highway baffles me.

A man drove into Whistler's garbage dropoff and deposited a large stack of newspapers in the general bin. The gentleman working there very politely suggested, "newspapers can be deposited into the paper recycling." The man sneered, "Well, you just keep up the good work there."

I know a number of people who don't recycle — or if they do, they don't know how and leave their garbage for other people to sort through — maybe because many of them are older, and never had to, so don't see why they should start. My sister leaves all her garbage in one bag and drops a case of beer on top for the garbage men — they take everything without questioning anything.   

More can be done — for one thing ban those stupid orange floaties on our rivers. We were forced to stay behind a group who had locked arms and were refusing to let people past. That's not really a good idea when you're riding in something akin to the Titanic (that is, potential to be doomed).

It sounds like people are saying there's no point in warning people, or putting up signs, or punishing people because it doesn't work.  Why bother having any laws, or punishment, or police officers?

I'm not suggesting people who litter should be imprisoned, but they should be forced to pick up garbage for a full day or actually get a fine (not just the threat of one).

Every year Whistler has a Pitch-In Day.  I'd like to see this extended to the entire Sea to Sky corridor. Cyclists could take this opportunity to join in removing garbage on their part of the highway they find so objectionable to ride on because of garbage — and stop leaving their flat tires wherever they go flat!

I've never seen police or bylaw checks on the river but I'm not on the river every day. There are a few obvious places to wait — Adventure's West before they even get into the river, and two portages.

We were picking up garbage in our neighbourhood when a man thanked us and pointed out we were doing it all wrong. We should be using a pail instead of our plastic bag (which we regularly emptied and reused). There was no such thing as compostable bags at that time. He was about to offer some other words of wisdom but I was so peeved I just glared at him and he got in his car and left without picking up a single piece of garbage near him.

If people aren't part of the solution, they're part of the problem.

Erna Gray

So who is responsible?

No smoking gun? We're not talking about a murder mystery plot. We're talking about 178 "remarkably similar" heating systems fabricated onsite to a standard specification using the same basic components; in other words a product (The District Energy System at the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood).

The legal principle of presumption of innocence does not apply to products. The evidence presented in the engineer's report showed that the product failed to comply with the design specification in important ways. So who is ultimately responsible? Not the contractor who fabricated the product. Not the engineer who designed the product and provided assurances in writing that it conforms to his design. Not the building inspector who relied on the assurances provided by the engineer. So who's left?

According to the terms and conditions of Whistler's Building and Plumbing Regulation Bylaw, the sole responsibility for any defects or variances from the design lies solely with the owner developer. In the subject matter, the owner developer is Whistler 2020 Development Corp., which just happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

What's next from Mr. Eric Martin (president and chair of the Whistler 2020 Development Corp), a plea of temporary insanity? Now that I'll buy into.

David MacPhail

DES works

Who lives in a two-bedroom suite and pays $35 a month for utilities all in?

Or $190 a month for a 1700 sq.-ft. three-bedroom? Cheakamus Crossing residents do.

The District Energy System has always worked and the heat pumps are top notch.

What sucks for us all is that the developer bailed and never completed the deficiencies. They have also pissed off the company that installed it and are capable of repairs through a lack of proper communications.

So get the developer to perform its duties, which would have saved new homeowners the costs and the bickering!

John Lee

Woodfibre LNG will be one of the cleanest?

The Singapore company that wants to build the LNG export facility at the former Woodfibre site feels that its project will be one of the cleanest?

It may be a small project, but it will have a big impact.

1) True, their seawater cooling system will "clean" Howe Sound of all microbes in close proximity. Anti bio-cleaning agents and increase water temperatures.

2) The public is growing tired of its claims about the project's commitment to clean up the old Woodfibre pulp mill site. The truth is that the province imposed a clean-up order for the site. The Singapore company chose to buy a polluted site and had no choice in the matter.

3) I am an expert in the field of herring survey work in Howe Sound. Woodfibre chose to ignore any local work clearly showing the extensive herring spawn activity both at the site and on either side, until public outcry was so loud that they started a token survey program of their own.

4) Its own report claims no elk on the site and yet photos showing elk grazing on the foreshore prove otherwise.

5) Only after I discovered the pink salmon run returns in Mill Creek did the Singapore company start to rig the bell "on by the way there is salmon on the site as well."

6) The massive amounts of B.C. Hydro power for this plant to operate don't just come from a hole in the wall. Power requirements will be that of a small town. This alone causes a huge environmental impact in the form of damming our rivers and habitat loss from transmission lines.

7) The new pipeline needed comes with its own habitat losses and power needs.

Bit of a sad pattern of smoke and mirrors, but perhaps this is what our environmental review process has become in B.C.

John Buchanan

Our asinine decadences

Kudos to G.D. Maxwell for dedicating three weeks' worth of columns to a local perspective on climate change mitigation (Pique June 9, 16 and 23).

I agree with all of the ideas in his June 16 column and encourage the municipal council to seriously consider them.

In particular, I'm glad to hear someone else mention the patio heaters that are ubiquitous at Whistler's restaurants and pubs. Burning fossil fuels to directly heat the atmosphere is an asinine decadence that Whistler can live without.

Otherwise, we might as well shout from the rooftops that we don't give a hoot about climate change.

While walking down the Village Stroll on one of our record hot days this spring, I noted somewhat incredulously that one of the pubs had its open-flame patio fireplace going, despite the very warm weather and the total lack of customers anywhere near it.

This is what G.D. accurately described as a ridiculous, visible, and gross waste of energy. It may be a drop in the bucket of wasteful energy practices in Canada, but I think Whistler would do well to address such low-hanging fruit when it comes to climate-change mitigation and energy conservation.

John Gallagher

A Midsummer Night's success!

A hearty thank you to everyone who helped make The Point's annual fundraiser, A Midsummer Night's Murder Mystery, a fun and highly successful evening.

This includes cook and playwright Michele Bush, her assistant (and murder victim) Sabrina Perfitt, winemaker Mark Simpson, actors and servers Kate Linton, Brandon Barrett, Myrna Bush, Linda Epp, Brandon Smith and Kevin Mikkelsen, artists Lisa Geddes, Marcelle Armatage, Hugh Kearney, Monique Hurteau, Vincent Massey and Suzanne Johnston, soundman Tim Smith, auction organizers Susan Bearance and Christine Wilding and the many individuals and businesses who donated auction items, auctioneer extraordinaire Chris Quinlan, our sponsors BC Wine Studio, Whistler Brewing Company and Nesters Market, cook Denise Hughes and the many other volunteers too numerous to mention here.

Thanks also to Vancouver gypsy jazz band Swing2Beat, and most importantly to the many community members who came out to enjoy the fine food, drink, theatre and dancing at the sold-out event. We raised a significant portion of the funding required for our two annual arts festivals, children's summer theatre and art camps and other programming at The Point.

Thanks everyone for a fantastic event!

See you this summer for Bocce & Brunch on Sundays at The Point starting July 3.

Stephen Vogler
The Point Artist-Run Centre

Air Maiden women's mountain bike event

On Saturday, June 18 in Pemberton, 40 women gathered to attend Air Maiden, a women's' mountain bike skills camp.

It was a day of many firsts, an amazing amount of camaraderie, and general stoke about riding bikes!

Lynne Armstrong started Air Maiden in Pemberton last year and with her absence, asked me to run it. Thank you for the opportunity.

I want to say thank you to PORCA and PVTA for the ability to ride on such great trails. Thank you to Evolution bike shop in Whistler for the generous swag and to Christina Chappatta, who not only took photos, but also helped with tips on the ride.

Thank you to my top-notch coaches, Sylvie Allen from Sweet Skills, Jaclyn Delecroix from Ozmosis Training, Bethany Parsons and Samantha White. Thank you to Amalie and Liv Bikes who came with six demo bikes to try — Liv also had swag for everyone!

The Bike Co. Pemberton, Sombrio, Race Face and Ryders all stepped up to support these women learning new skills to make them better riders.

Thank you Snowline Catering for really going above and beyond with healthy and delicious food.

Thank you Jaclyn's mom, Fran, for volunteering and my tail gunners Rachel, Tanja, Lara and Nancy.

Last but not least, thank you to my husband Gray for building the stunts and supporting me the whole time. I can hardly wait for the next time.

Bree Thorlakson

Keep Howe Sound free of heavy industry

From time immemorial, Howe Sound has been known to the Squamish people as Atl'Kitsem/Texwnewest' — meaning "paddling north" and "paddling south." Howe Sound's history is one of industrialization resulting in the upper and western Howe Sound being declared biological dead-zones by the 1980s.

With the clean-up and closures of the Howe Sound industries, we are witnessing a recovery of the area to hopefully the state it once was — "a great spawning ground for herring. The fish can at such time be literally raked out of the water so plentiful are they," as reported in the B.C. Parliamentary Sessional papers of 1894-95.

Clearly the Spirit of Atl'Kitsem/Texwnewest' is reemerging, bringing back herring, salmon, dolphins and all types of whales. This is transforming the whole area, attracting gondola day trippers, sunset seekers, climbers, hikers, kayakers, sailors, whale watchers, indigenous and sport fishers.

Blind to this, the B.C. Government and Woodfibre LNG would like to push Atl'Kitsem/Texwnewest' back into industrialization and build an LNG plant right in the middle of its most important herring spawn grounds. To minimize the effects on the herring, the engineering firm Golder Associates advised Woodfibre LNG in 2013 to use the Gold Standard — closed-loop cooling with cooling towers.

Since then, Woodfibre LNG has put Golder's professional advice aside and has misrepresented information about the presence of herring spawn to regulators and the public.

When proven wrong by its own herring spawn surveys, thanks to the gutted Fisheries Act and the unwillingness of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to prosecute the company for misrepresenting the truth, Woodfibre LNG was given carte blanche to use an once-through cooling system.

This type of cooling system has lower operational costs, but it comes with a price — It is very damaging to marine life. California is phasing out this type of cooling system.

The approval of this project is the result of a broken environmental assessment process and is as such, unacceptable.

The communities and municipalities of Squamish, West Vancouver, Bowen Island, Gambier Island and Gibsons have spoken out on numerous occasions against this project. The recovery of Atl'Kitsem/Texwnewest' a.k.a. Howe Sound, needs protection, not re-industrialization.

Anton van Walraven
Bowen Island

A FUNtastic day it was..

On June 17 Spring Creek Community School celebrated another successful year of learning with its annual FUN Day.

Many wacky activity stations of thanks to our amazing Grade 6 and 7 students. The leadership, positive energy and responsibility that you demonstrated throughout the day were commendable. The Graduating Class of 2016 is a special one!

Big thank yous to our newly appointed Principal Mr. Stuart Bent for "clowning" around all day, to Lenka Hennesey and all of the SCCS and ELP teachers and assistants who dressed and played along in colourful spirit, to all of the students who brought their teamwork and high energy, and to the large group of SCCS and ELP parents who helped with set up, at the stations and with tear down. It was a memorable day because of ALL of you.

Special thanks to the PAC's Tracy Higgs for leading the organization and Tanya Goertzen for MC-ing. Hot chocolate and coffee cups of thanks to Tim Hortons store #5791 and Creekside Starbucks. Your generous contributions in helping to create a super FUN day for all students were much appreciated.

Christine Zucht
Spring Creek Community School PAC

Thanks to our Library Friends

On behalf of the Whistler Public Library Board of Trustees and the Library staff we would like to thank each of you and all the friends who have served and continue to give their time, energy and contribution to our library. The financial augmentation that the friends have provided over the years has undoubtedly helped enrich the library for both individuals and the community at large.

Congratulations to you and all of the volunteers who successfully raised $4,675 at the recent book sale, and thanks also for the support of the giant plant sale earlier this month, which raised over $2,000. Coordinating such events is a monumental effort that plays a generous and selfless role in both advocacy and the provision of funds to purchase items that make a significant impact on the positive patron experience here at the library.

In the last several years your contributions have brought us such wonderful things as the bistro seating in the plaza, new fixtures for the children's area, BOB the book bike and our beautiful Christmas tree (just to name a few). In addition, we are grateful for your ongoing support of Books for BC Babies, Film Movement and our recent Spanish and French conversation groups. Not to mention the beloved Games Night, which serves as a home away from home for so many young people.

For all of this we thank our Library Friends!

Elizabeth Tracy

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