Letters to the editor for the week of May 22nd 

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The loss of an 'elder' is a loss for the community

No doubt you have received dozens of letters regarding the recent passing of Don (MacLaurin).

No doubt the letters have expressed the gratitude of the many people who came in contact with or were inspired by Don and Isobel. No doubt that he will be missed. And for a very small and young community like Whistler, these "passings" of our elders is perhaps more profound, more deeply felt because there were not many in our history that had the impact and influence that they did. 

In Don's case, for almost 40 years since I first met him, he represented the fundamental core and values of the community that sought to be a part of.

He was an outdoorsman through and through. Past president of the BC Mountaineering Club when the Himmelsbach hut was built in Singing Pass, he plotted alpine trails and journeys as often as his work as a professional forester caused him to plan roads.

He founded the first professional avalanche course ever in North America if not the world, when he worked as an instructor at BCIT.

He climbed B.C.'s mountains far and wide and loved it all. He was a skier, a climber and a hiker. He was a professional outdoorsman all the way. And he was passionate about creating a unique community based upon these values and his resume of volunteerism to achieve this is extraordinary. 

Don told me of one story, one which he was proud of, about how he "fooled" the B.C. government into providing him with some funding to prove out a trail from Cypress Mountain to Whistler, an Appalachian trail, multi-day hike for B.C., which was one of his many great ideas. He hiked and flagged the whole route along the Howe Sound Crest all the way to Whistler.

He told me it "went easier than I thought it would!" In the end, the whole trail was never created, but his route became the Howe Sound Crest and Lions trails, as well as other offshoots along the way. 

He was a huge supporter of the Spearhead Huts project, which in many ways, was part of his original vision in the '60s. Just a few months ago he told me how he had hoped we would have it built while he was still around to come and see it.

I told him we would carry him up there if we needed to. We were not able to make that happen but his vision, contribution and support will be truly and deeply missed by Whistler and B.C.'s outdoor community at large.

We are much poorer for his passing. 

Jayson Faulkner


Partnerships help build trail

Thanks to Pique Newsmagazine and (reporter) John French for the article introducing the Sea to Sky Marine Trail network, currently in planning for Howe Sound (Pique May 15, 2014).

It is important to acknowledge the various agencies responsible for bringing this exciting concept closer to reality.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District supported the early exploration and concept development, as we sought to connect the Sea to Sky Trail with the rest of the Trans Canada Trail. The lead was then taken up by the provincial department of Recreation Sites & Trails BC, essential to completing the Concept Plan and working to secure the seven new waterfront recreation sites.

Special recognition is due our regional recreation officer, Alistair McCrone, for his enthusiastic support of this project.

Another key group that has provided sound advice and support on the water is the BC Marine Trails Network Association. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to the development and promotion of marine trail networks throughout B.C. The Trans Canada Trail has also contributed, as we develop the first salt-water section in its national network of trails.

These groups, and more, have been critical to the development of what will become an amazing new recreational amenity for the residents and visitors in our region.

Multi-day kayak journeys on the beautiful seascape of Howe Sound will become more feasible thanks to their efforts.

Gordon McKeever

Project Manager

Mount Currie's New West Side Trail

First of all — to the workers, volunteers, organizers, donors, etc., thank you!

I've used this trail twice now this spring to access Mount Currie and as the starting point of a ski traverse.

It thrills me to see input from the community going towards new hiking trails.

The area is amazingly gorgeous with scenic vistas towards Blacktusk and the Pemberton Valley once you reach the alpine. The area also looks like it has amazing potential for ski touring.

As the snowline recedes higher I encourage people to try the trail out. Currently, some heli logging has made certain short patches of trail a little hard to follow, but cross them horizontally and you should have no problems as the loggers have made an effort to mark where the trail meets the logging slashes.

The road getting to the trailhead is a little rough if you don't have clearance and four-wheel-drive, but don't let that discourage you. Parking at the fork after the Green River bridge crossing only adds one kilometre each way of fast walking.

Skis and tape mark the trailhead. The trail is prone to erosion with the dry soils, so please don't cut switchbacks. Hopefully more work will be done to solve some of the erosion issues this summer.

Although we're surrounded by parks with government maintained trails (that topic is another article altogether), the reality is most of our surroundings are worthy of being parks — a lot of them just lack the access.

I hope over the years the community will continue to help build and maintain trails like this to grant access to great locations, and continue to promote the outdoor lifestyle, which is such a draw to those moving to the area.

Trails like this only help local tourism grow. I myself will do my best to contribute and I hope many others will be keen to do the same.

Get outside, explore, have fun.

Sam McKoy


Hydrogen bus program worth the investment

I must take issue with the last paragraph of your article on the demise of the hydrogen busses in an otherwise informative and balanced piece (Pique editorial May 8).

The word "boondoggle" is defined as: 1) a product of simple manual skill; 2) work of little value, merely to keep busy; 3) a project funded by the feds of no real value to the community or nation.

Assuming you were using the third meaning, by your own admission the hydrogen busses cut down on Whistler's GHG emissions. Is this not a benefit to the community and nation as a whole? In addition to which, for the five-year duration of the project, residents and tourists in Whistler did not have to suffer the fumes, other toxic emission and noise of as many diesel busses.

You fail to mention as a source of hydrogen, the gas that at present is vented as waste product in Vancouver.

If the investment in the bus program had continued for another five years, it would have provided the certainty needed for the $18 million investment in the facility to liquefy this gas, creating more local jobs and expertise while further reducing environmental impacts since hydrogen would not have to be transported from Quebec.

As another correspondent mentioned, all worthwhile inventions include many mistakes along the way. While the busses may suffer setbacks during cold weather, there are many places in the world, where fuel-cell busses are more appropriate.

Some companies recognize this and one wonders if Daimler Benz and Ford Motor Company would have invested considerable funds in a fuel cell development and manufacturing facility in Burnaby without the Whistler bus project and local technology cluster, which now employs hundreds of British Columbians.

Expertise in designing and building hydrogen infrastructure, running and maintaining hydrogen busses now provide the province and country with intellectual property for export and jobs today, as Canadian companies are leading suppliers to the multi-million dollar rollout of hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure in California.

Sue Armstrong


Highway of trash

Firstly, thank you to everyone who works for the municipality in keeping this town looking amazing. Seeing the work that goes into the various green areas around the village and at the numerous parks is awesome, and every summer these "hotspots" look amazing.

Unfortunately, if you've ever glanced out your window as you're driving up from Callaghan to Creekside, you'll see a different story. The amount of household and commercial trash that litters the side of our highway is, quite literally, disgusting. If you happen to be a road cyclist as well, this trash is even more obvious. I tried counting the number of pieces between Callaghan and Function heading north the other day and lost count after 250... and I was still three kilometres out!

Combine that fact, with the new location of our "Welcome to Whistler" sign (which is now located at the start of the Callaghan valley), and you get one of the worst first impressions you could make to any summer tourist who has come to Whistler to enjoy the outdoors.

I am not sure if the municiplaity has any spare money — I'm sure it doesn't — but I would love to see some of our resources that we spend on beautifying the Whistler Village re-allocated to tidying up this section of the highway.

I would also like to put an invitation out to any business, NPOs, or groups that are interested in organizing a clean up day for this section of the highway. I'm sure with some spot prizes, a BBQ, and free beer (maybe AFTER the tidy up is done), we could organize a small army of people to help tidy this area up.

Christopher Den Tandt


(Editor's note: Den Tandt and helpers were busy Sunday May 18 collecting garbage near Function Junction — that's where all those black bags of refuse came from. Thanks!)

'Firesmart' your home

If everyone in the valley would download the Firesmart BC manual (http://embc.gov.bc.ca/ofc/interface/pdf/homeowner-firesmart.pdf), take the test for their house using the questionnaire in the manual, and then cut down high-risk trees around their house, we all might just wake up after a wildfire and find that we still have our houses.

The question is not "if" there will be a fire in the valley, the question is "when."

Just ask the folks in Kelowna who lost their houses a few years ago.

I grew up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, it was considered common sense to cut a "fire break" around your house. Since I moved to Whistler two years ago, I have been surprised this is not a community concern.

Maybe if the municipality took this issue seriously, there would be a tax break on property taxes for those who invested in the costs of tree removal.

Loving life.

Peter Bennett


Feeling let down

I moved to Whistler in the mid '90s for the snow, the parties and the sense of community I found here — it's a place where people treat other people with respect just for following there dreams.

It's a place where I have never had to lock my doors or feel like I was going to be robbed. But last Monday I was in the market place, and while waiting for my wife to get some information from her boss I went and got a 15 pack of beer. I was standing by her car when I noticed an old friend having a problem backing up his trailer.

Without hesitation I put my Old Mils down... and proceeded to go help. He thanked me and introduced me to his three-year-old son whom I had never met. This whole interaction took a total of two minutes, and left me feeling good about myself.

To my dismay, when I turned back to the car my beers were gone and so was my sense of right.

It isn't the nominal $20.49 (cost of the beer) that left me with a sense of loss. I felt violated on an internal level, which beckoned me to ask, "is this the community that I live in where locals steal from locals?" Is there really someone that desperate who feels taking from another person is a positive step towards the whole?

Karmatically, I wish them all the best in their choices. Truthfully, I hope they choked on my beer.

Free Spirit Quinn


Wild salmon should be the choice

We visited (the Save on Foods) store in Squamish (May 16) — it was our first time, looking to resupply our Whistler residence. Our order came to almost $200.

Upon inspection of the fish offering, I discovered to my dismay that the company is selling "Farmed Atlantic Salmon." The sad fact is it was actually more expensive than the frozen wild Sockeye, I bought two fillets. The Sockeye was $1.99 per 100 grams, the farmed crap was approximately $2.29 per 100 grams. The wild salmon was hidden in a freezer, nowhere near the farmed stuff, so much for consumer comparisons!

Never mind the price, that's not important.

These farmed fish come from open-pen feed lots on the B.C. coast, not farms. Twenty-six Norwegian owned farms (feedlots) that (allegedly) pollute our shores, so they can sell their product to hapless Americans, their largest market.

In case anyone was paying attention, 60 Minutes just produced a segment on this industry, aired last Sunday on CBS — search YouTube (to see it).

So it takes an American television channel to expose what is going on in Canada? Where is W5? Americans (in) Washington and Alaska have sworn off fish farms, too much risk to their wild salmon runs. Alaska has the largest salmon run in the world.

(I believe) these farmed fish carry a virus that is being spread to our wild salmon stocks, that's the main risk. Furthermore the fish have a high concentration of fatty tissue given they do not swim in the free ocean, but are fed herring fish pellets in (an allegedly) polluted environment. (I believe) contaminates, heavy metals and other poisons are concentrated in the fat. Doctors in Norway have warned about the risks of eating this fish. They state (that they are) not recommended for children and pregnant women.

No one raises these fish anywhere near wild fish stocks, only in British Columbia! We can thank government for that — they are addicted to the tax revenue coming from these businesses.

Back to the Save On Foods store in Squamish — so when I summoned the fish manager to explain why the company was selling (what I think is a) second-rate product, he was very apologetic. I told him I was ready to leave my order in the store and walk out, never to return. I simply stated that we do not support any store that sells open pen, feedlot salmon.

I even showed them from their little list that this product was in the red zone, not recommended! This was after one of the staff tried to indicate the stuff was a yellow-zoned product as if that was acceptable!

The manager mumbled something about the buyers, and having to take what was ordered. However, he promised me that he would remove all that product from the shelf immediately, at which point I was impressed and indicated that we would continue to shop there.

Of note, competitor Nesters discontinued selling farmed salmon years ago. I would ask that you consider doing the same in all your stores.

Robert Dingle


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