Letters to the Editor for the week of May 11th 

  • photo by Leslie Anthony

Get vehicles off the road to save wildlife

Native to southwestern Ontario, I read with interest Leslie Anthony's tragic story regarding roadkill back in my home province ("Still Life with Reptiles," Pique, May 4).

I grew up in a forest, with a fondness for reptiles and amphibians. I once caught a rattlesnake barehanded. I immediately released it as I would never want to harm any native vertebrate... yet another reason why I don't drive.

I must take issue with Leslie's fatalistic conclusion that "we can't stop roads, we can't stop cars." Nonsense!

As a society, we can choose to limit or to stop any behaviour we think is doing more harm than good, and driving should be considered one such behaviour.

We must stop actively encouraging and subsidizing personal motor transportation, with an annual worldwide death toll that not only includes the hundreds of millions of animals sadly documented in Leslie's story, but also 1.2 million human beings! Another 50 million people are permanently injured every year. All the world's terrorist attacks and all the world's wars don't come within an order of magnitude of this degree of carnage! The only other human activity that can match this is, in fact, cigarette smoking, mysteriously still legal.Though inevitable in Leslie's eyes, the road widening conducted in Ontario, and less recently on our Highway 99, is an obsolete approach.

Rather than continuing to accommodate motorists' insatiable demand for more lanes and more parking, we should be favouring approaches to limit the supply.

Through demand management (tolls, paid parking, higher carbon tax, etc.), we can choose to make driving, especially by single occupancy vehicles, progressively more expensive, less convenient and slower, in favour of faster, cheaper, more extensive, and better integrated travel options by transit, coach, shuttle, rail, car-share, bicycle, electric bike and foot.

Any further upgrade to our Highway 99 should be in the form of a bus-only lane.Fifty passengers on a bus or 50 people on bikes are far less of a threat to both non-human and human vertebrates than 50 speeding cars, pick-ups and SUVs.

Dr. Thomas DeMarco

Act on illegal nightly rentals

How many years on are we since you last heard from me? November 2013 was my first letter to the editor, and here we are four years later and yet we still see the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) stalling to find a solution and finally clamp down on the illegal nightly rental accommodation in the resort of Whistler.

I had heard (there is) a budget of $100,000 set aside to deal with this problem.

Why, if the RMOW is dealing with this (as stated on their website), have I, a local taxpayer, been able to identify 25 single-family homes in the resort that are currently advertising and conducting illegal nightly rentals out of their properties (the reviews speak for themselves that these are nightly rentals)?

To put this in context, collectively those 25 properties can house 280 heads, or as I believe Tourism Whistler calls them, "pillows." That's a lot of lost sales for our local hotels and legal nightly accommodation owners. Shamefully, one of the "Premium" local accommodation providers is currently advertising six properties that are illegal for rental on its website!  

You, as a legal-nightly homeowner in our resort, pay for that privilege whether it's the Tourism Whistler fees, increased property taxes, inspections, insurance and in many cases, you are required to collect GST! Who's losing out? The resort, the taxman and the legal nightly homeowner and hotels.

Employee accommodation problems, you betcha! Years ago, resort founders had the foresight to implement zonings unique to a resort such as ours to ensure continued diversity of accommodation, whilst still having the guarantee that our hardworking employees would have a home to live.

Instead, we currently have business owners scrambling for employees and we have employees scrambling for housing. On the flipside, we have owners who continue to ignore these zonings and reap huge cash benefits and landlords who are charging extortionate rental rates that are unrealistic for an employee to survive! 

Is it only me that sees this as a warped system? I have been silently watching since my initial findings four years ago, when over two weekends, I took the initiative to drive around and identify homes that were illegally renting out. I provided 50 addresses and back-up information to the Bylaw Department and yet some of those are still advertising!

Clever owners have stopped doing front-exterior shots so there are probably a few out there that won't be caught.

It may be your neighbour or someone up the street that is renting out and making a buck off of your lack of intervention. Haven't you seen increased traffic and noise that is suspect? You probably chose to live where you do because it's a residential area.

It's easy to detect if your neighbour is renting out illegally by visiting the RMOW website and using the GIS interactive mapping tool to identify the zoning allocated to each individual property, so no secrets there!

I will be handing over a file to the bylaw department very soon with the addresses and back-up information of these 25 properties located and, just for the record, BC Assessment will be getting a copy too!  

Come on Whistler municipality: start embracing the legacy that the founders of the resort put in place. Use that $100,000 to employ somebody whose sole responsibility is to identify these properties for you.

How long do you think it would be before we saw these disappear — three months maybe?

Maddy Hamilton
White Rock

Rotarians gather for conference

The first weekend in May bought the daffodils and Ferraris out in Whistler, but it also brought over 300 Rotarians from B.C. and beyond into Whistler for the Rotary District 5040 Conference.

Hosted by our local and District Governor Lyn Stroshin at the Fairmont Chateau, Rotarians of all ages who are doing incredible things in local communities and throughout the world were all in this town we call home.

There are 1.2 million members of Rotary International around the world. Members are volunteers from diverse professional backgrounds, united by strong ethics, and a desire to make the world a better place. 

There are geographic districts to help in the management and communication of Rotary Clubs.

The Sea to Sky is located within District 5040, which encompasses most of B.C., including the Lower Mainland, Terrace and Quesnel, and everything in between.

The Sea to Sky corridor was well represented by our four clubs: Whistler, Whistler Millennium, Pemberton and Squamish. From the opening bagpipes to a warm welcome from Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and the exceptional entertainment from MC Tom Hierck, conference delegates enjoyed a weekend of purpose-driven encouragement and inspiration.

Guest speakers evoked smiles, tears and laughter. They reminded us to be brave and filled us with courage.

Thank you polio survivor Gabor Gasztonyi, mental health advocates and locals Ginny and Kerry Dennehy for sharing your stories.

Thank you the Lil'wat and Squamish Nations for welcoming us onto your land.

Thanks also to neuroscientist Dr. Matt Balcarras, to 17-year-old interactor Kyle Gomes, to past youth exchange student Christina Hassan, to Angie and Paul Bean, to Roy Prevost, to Don Mebus and to Sara Eftekhar.

The speakers inspired us — thanks for that David Forward, Shirley-Pat Chamberlain and Dean Rohrs.

Recognition for exceptional contribution has to go to Keith Reynolds of Playground Builders and Rotarian of the Year, Tom Smith — both sent waves of awe through the crowd.

How can so many incredible people be in one room, one town, at one time?

All of this couldn't happen without a committee of effective people and a group of generous sponsors.

District Governor Lyn Stroshin had a small army of champions around her led by her chair, Marg Pallot, Pat Taylor, Nancy Eidsvik and John Charbonneau, her husband Alex and family.

Thanks to conference sponsors: Sabre, Carneys, Sotheby's, Ideal Door, Maid Right, Matrix Production Service, Millar Creek Developments, West Coast Wishes, Whistler Smiles, Walsh Restoration, Gibbons, Driving Force, FYidoctors, Vision Pacific, Best Lumber & Supplies, Storrs Ltd., Greg Gardner and The Co-operators.

Thanks to in-kind partners: Fitzsimmons Pub, Century Signs, Tim Hortons, Peak to Green Accommodations, Clarkes Recognition Products, PSAV, Blackcomb Liquor Store.

Come check us out. There are four local clubs from Squamish to Pemberton. We're change-makers. We're a fun, inspiring, encouraging group of people doing good in your community and the world. We meet weekly.  We invite you to join us. (To see a photo from the event, go to Partial Recall pg. 59.) The local club is online at rotarywhistler2000.blogspot.ca.

Shannon Kirkwood

Merci and thank you!

École La Passerelle's PAC would like to thank the generous folks at Creekbread for hosting a delicious and fun evening in support of our school.

La Passerelle is Whistler's francophone school. Our small student body, 62 students, has a big spirit — many thanks to all parents, kids, staff and the community that showed up to support the school.

In addition to the funds raised from pizza sales, thank you to the following local businesses that donated fabulous silent auction prizes: Nesters, Whistler Chocolate, Tag, Whistler Physio, Samurai Sushi, El Furniture Warehouse, Underground Tuning, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, NOW Bindings, Dakine, YES, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, The Circle, Full Moon, Wildcats, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Meadow Park Sports Centre and Starbucks.

A very special merci to the students who created masterpieces for the silent auction and Ski Heaven for inspiring and helping with amazing artwork.

The money raised from the evening will support educational initiatives at École La Passerelle.

Sue Oakey and Nenna Farsang
Co-Chairs, La Passerelle PAC

Honouring a friend

Jack Spettigue was one of the happiest human beings I have ever had the privilege to know.

One of Whistler's finest. One of the happiest human beings I have ever met in the entirety of my life.

Jack wasn't just your average skier. Working for the mountain as a groomer by night, and skiing addict by day, there wasn't a single powder day this season when I didn't see this guy riding and smiling ear to ear, bringing contagious joy and smiles to everyone around him.

Whether it was on the run, on the chair, or in the lift lines, you couldn't be sad or angry around him. He just brightened the day.

To encounter Jack was to bear witness to the cup-half-full philosophy.

Everyone has flaws and bad days, but Jack never showed anyone that pain or sorrow. He walked through life with his head held high and his spirits up, always passing the positive vibrations to everyone he encountered.

I remember the last day I spent time with him: We saw each other in the Rendevouz Lodge (atop Blackcomb Mountain) and Jack invited me and the friend I was with to come to an on-the-mountain party in the 7th Heaven area.

He had never met my friend before but they were laughing and smiling together within minutes of knowing each other. We put our gear on and headed down the cat track to 7th Heaven, and I can vividly remember his joyous hooting and hollering as we hit every little jump and bump we could see.

Pure joy.

We got to the lift only to get turned away by patrol telling us the lift was closed because of the avalanche risk in the area. We were bummed out by the news, but Jack kept his spirits high and said "I'm still going!"

We decided to go our separate paths (at that point). Jack made it to and from the party unharmed and happy, and that was the last time I had a chance to see him.

On April 16, 2017, Jack was enjoying the stars on top of a roof in the Whistler village, the same night I decided to take my first long-exposure photograph of the beautiful night sky.

He was lost in the bliss of the moment, and fell off of the roof that night, which led to his death.

And even though I've tried my best to honour him in this (letter), words cannot describe the sorrow I feel about the loss of this wonderful human.

Ski in peace, Jack Spettigue, 1993 to 2017. #skiingwithsketti.

Gabriel Ostapchuk

Awe-inspiring fundraising

On Saturday, April 29, the community of Pemberton came together to support the athletics program at Pemberton Secondary School (PSS).

The second annual "Day of the Devil" fundraiser teed off with a golf tournament in the driving rain at Big Sky, followed by a dinner, dance, and casino at PSS.

Through the generosity, hard work, commitment, and loyalty of all who contributed, over $25,000 was raised. For a small, rural school, this is awe-inspiring.

These donations will enable our student-athletes to continue to represent our school and community with the pride, dedication, and the strong sportsmanship that reflects the people who supported us.

We are all so grateful and appreciative. Thank you.

Jessie Bull, Brook Phare, Erica Van Loon
On behalf of all Pemberton Secondary students and staff.

Women's Institute thanks

The Pemberton Women's Institute would like to thank our friends and family for baking tasty treats and donating plants for our annual Plant and Bake Sale.

The baking sold in a flash and the plants almost as fast.

It is nice to see all the enthusiastic gardeners picking up their veggie starts and perennials to spruce up their gardens.

Thank you to the Pemberton Seed Potato Growers for giving us several varieties of potatoes to sell.

We have a few plants and potatoes left and plan to be at the first Farmers' Market of the season with them.

A special thank you for the ladies from Scotiabank who came to help us with their matching funds program.

Linda Welsh

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