Letters to the editor for the week of May 8th 

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Phil Chew's retirement

Phil was my first coach ski racing after I broke my back.

In hindsight I realize that he put up with me at my worst. I wasn't a good ski racer, but despite my inability to arc a turn or take instruction, Phil believed one day I could be. While Phil is very decorated as a coach, I know that athletes were often taken from his program too soon and pushed to the national team. Often Phil didn't get the credit he deserved as a coach for his athletes' success.

I remember being in Colorado on a low-budget trip with Phil. We were staying in a barn (literally), and the conditions on the race slope were brutal. I was in a slump with results and I was down on myself.

Phil took me aside and shared with me the most profound thing I ever learned in ski racing. He said to me: "it's not only about ski racing."

A seemingly simple thing to say, but hidden within those words was a lesson that took me years to truly understand. Today, I realize Phil saw through everything else, and saw how truly lucky we were to be in the mountains sliding around on skis.

Phil's love for skiing has always been incredibly infectious, and through it Phil has inspired more Canadian athletes to greatness than any other coach I can think of. I can't think of a better ski buddy no matter what the day.

Thanks for the lessons coach, I owe you!

Happy retirement!

Samson Danniels


We have to keep trying

Failure is not a bad word. It is actually a good thing.

If you speak to a scientist, they'll tell you something along the lines that an experiment has to fail at least five times to even be statistically significant. Why am I talking about failed experiments?

As I was driving to work on Friday (May 2) I noticed that the big hydrogen tanks have been dismantled and taken down at the bus depot. The hydrogen buses are no more.

I have you know that I'm very proud to be living in a community that took a risk and a step in the right direction. It would be great to have a public transportation system (or all transportation) that runs on hydrogen: a clean, renewable fuel and the most abundant element in the universe.

We took an important first step in that direction. Like most first steps, or like when we first strap skis or a snowboard to our feet — we flopped on our faces. But that's a good thing, because we're moving in the right direction and hopefully learning from our mistakes.

Green technologies are going to be the next big thing in the next decades, simply because they have to be.

For the sake of our environment, and if we are to make it as a species, we have to start investing in and developing clean technologies en masse.

And I'd love it if our community were on the forefront of this and not sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how things are going to play out.

I would like us to take another stab at this and the sooner the better. Let's lead, not follow.

Hopefully, we would have learned from our previous experiment and apply those lessons. To be honest, I think the chances are the next step might be a failure too. But that is another valuable lesson. And hopefully the third time we'll get it right and have an enormously successful, profitable and clean transportation system that will be the envy of all other communities around the world.

Don't be afraid to fail! If you learn from it, it's a good thing!

Victor Lezu


First Nation's treaty significant

Writing about the Sliammon Treaty M.P. John Weston says, "I cannot support an agreement that prejudices the equality of Canadians or the sovereignty of my country." (Pique, May 1)

His letter is ideological rhetoric that ignores Canadian history, the principles of modern treaty making and Canadian law. The ideas in the letter represent a simplistic and misguided view of Canada.  

For example, Mr. Weston says that the treaty is unconstitutional because in some instances Sliammon law will prevail over "Canadian law." This is a complete misrepresentation of the Sliammon treaty and our Canadian constitutional governing system. The fact of the matter is that Sliammon law will be Canadian law, along with provincial laws, federal laws and municipal laws.

Mr. Weston must realize that laws can be different if you live in B.C. versus the Yukon. They are different if you are an "Indian" or not. Laws are different in Pemberton compared to Vancouver. All of these laws are "Canadian law" because they are consistent with the constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Laws don't need to be identical to be Canadian law.  

Furthermore, Mr. Weston is pandering to fear and ignorance about treaty making in B.C. by overstating the instances in which Sliammon law will prevail over federal or provincial laws. The fact is that Sliammon law may only prevail over federal or provincial law for matters restricted to the identity of the Sliammon people — like the preservation of their culture.

Even when a Sliammon law may prevail there is usually the condition attached that the law still needs to be consistent with federal or provincial standards. In the majority of law-making matters, however, the Sliammon will be able to make laws only in so far as they do not conflict with a federal or provincial law.  

As to the matter of sovereignty, the treaty does not threaten the sovereignty of Canada. Modern treaties prohibit First-Nation governments from raising an army, creating passports or border stations, having standing as a sovereign nation at international bodies like the UN, or creating a monetary system.

The constitution of Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the rule of law are preserved by the Sliammon Treaty and all modern-day treaties.

Mr. Weston is a lawyer, so I am inclined to think he's read the case Campbell v. British Columbia from the BC Supreme Court. The case challenged the legality of the Nisga'a Treaty on a number of points including that the treaty was inconsistent with the constitution of Canada. If he's read the decision then he would know that the judge disagreed on every point and dismissed the case.

All of the above leads me to conclude that Mr. Weston's letter is fear-mongering and pandering for votes.

I think it's a sad day when an MP derides such a significant achievement between aboriginal people and the Crown.

Mr. Weston says that he has been consistent in his views for 35 years. That is fine, but please understand that just because a person consistently makes statements like these doesn't make them factual or sound arguments.

Sheldon Tetreault


'Welcome' thanks

Thanks to many people Pemberton now has an attractive, eye-catching sign that greets visitors and locals to our community. The Gateway Sign Project started 15 months ago with a thoughtful and strategic planning, design and execution process, which has culminated in this exceptional end product.

This could never have been achieved without the generous donations of funds, and contributions of labour, material and equipment.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce we thank the following for their contribution in creating such a unique "welcoming" introduction to our community: Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., Village of Pemberton; Drew Oberson — Continental Pole, Pemberton Valley Building Centre/RONA, Niche Market Design — Brigit Sirota-Goldammer, Whiscombe Artisan Projects — Glen Ashton, MT Studio — Mike Tyler, and Mateo Durfeld — Durfeld Construction.

Your support made this happen, and we sincerely thank you for your involvement and support.

Karen Ross

President Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce

Difficult to compare Whistler Blackcomb

As a former resident of France for many years, and now a returned Canadian living in Whistler, I read with interest the recent comments submitted by J-L Brussac of Coquitlam under the heading "Comparing Whistler," printed in Pique on April 24.

Mr. Brussac apparently acknowledges that Whistler is the largest ski resort in North America, and in an attempt to compare North American ski resorts to those in Europe, he provides some interesting numbers, such as the number of ski resorts in the French alps, which according to his figures, totals 207.

He makes the point that many of these resorts are in close proximity and that such clusters often cooperate by issuing a single pass, which provides access to several individual resorts. This is obviously done in enlightened self-interest, and recent steps by Whistler and other North American resorts to provide reciprocal discounts to season pass holders of other North American ski resorts is a step in the right direction, and a good marketing strategy.

The problem is that when making comparisons, numbers cannot tell the whole story. While there are far more ski resorts in various European countries including France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, etc., as compared to North America, many of these European resorts are small with infrastructure and resort services that simply cannot be compared to larger North American and European ski resorts, and especially to Whistler.

If you want to ski in a mom-and-pop ski area, Europe has far more of these than does North America. However, if you want to ski in a top-rated resort comparable to Whistler, the numbers are drastically reduced.

Coming quickly to mind would be St. Moritz, Zermatt, Verbier, and Wengen in Switzerland, Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Val d'Isere/Tigne Val Claret, Courcheval/Les Trois Vallees, Megeve, Les Arc/Bourg in France, Innsbruck, Kitzbuhel, St. Anton, Zurs and Lech in Austria.  

Hundreds of small European resorts, even when grouped into clusters, cannot be compared to Whistler. It's simply a question of apples and oranges.

A more useful comparison is between Whistler and the biggest European resorts with comparable amenities to Whistler, including kilometres of skiable terrain, vertical, number and type of lifts, other infrastructure, annual snowfall, length of season, etc. Such information is readily available on all the resorts mentioned above.

Again, this is not an ideal comparison. It's the intangibles that make the difference. Charm. Food. Wine. Proximity to lifts. Weather. Cost. Crowds. Après possibilities. Ambiance, including whether people push in line, smoke in line, etc.

Language is also important. For example, I am not a big fan of Italian ski resorts since I don't speak Italian and much pleasure from skiing comes from those with whom you are skiing.

On the other hand, my fluency in French and English makes the most international of European top ski resorts mentioned above much more appealing to me, and these are viable competitors to Whistler.

Having skied at all of the above-mentioned resorts, I cannot provide a number for all the intangible factors. However, in one man's experience, Whistler ranks very highly on these intangibles.

Whistler, including adjacent Blackcomb Mountain, is by any measure the largest ski resort in North America:  it is more than 50 per cent larger than its nearest competitor in terms of size, it has the greatest uphill lift capacity per hour by far, and it has the highest vertical distance serviced by lifts: one vertical mile.

With a ski season lasting from November into May, the number of skier days (defined as one skier on the mountain for one day) approximates two million each ski season, placing Whistler clearly in the top category of ski resorts anywhere in the world.

Side-by-side mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb together offer more than 200 marked and named runs, some exceeding 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) in length from the peak to valley, a vertical distance of 1.61 kilometres (1 mile).

Helicopter skiing and access to an enormous backcountry puts Whistler into a category that cannot be matched in Europe.

With legacy infrastructure from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, winter recreation in Whistler goes far beyond alpine skiing and boarding, and few other ski resorts anywhere can match these facilities.

Finally, for those of us who live here, we have discovered that Whistler is a year-round resort, unlike most European and other North American ski resorts, which can remain empty except for a few months of the year.

Whistler: it's an amazing place, year round.

Doug Garnett


Get on your bike

For the third year in a row, the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society (SSCAS) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) are partnering to coordinate Bike to Work Week (BTWW): an event encouraging residents to commute to work via bicycle.

SCASS is a non-profit organization with a mandate to protect air quality in the Sea to Sky/Howe Sound Airshed.

Cycling is one of the best things you can do to achieve good health and fitness. People who cycle regularly to work, school or on errands live longer than those who do not, and lead healthier lives.

Trading in your car, for even just a few trips, also means big savings, both in terms of cost and carbon.

Commuting to work by car is the number one cause of carbon emissions, and vehicle exhaust is the number one form of pollution in our airshed. Choosing to cycle instead, even for part of the time, can have dramatic results.

Bike to Work Week motivates residents to try cycling to work by helping to break down perceived barriers that keep people from cycling to work on a regular basis.

The emphasis will be on having fun, with draw prizes throughout the event, prizes just for registering, and two grand prizes at the end of the week.

Register at www.biketowork.ca.

Kari Mancer

Bike to Work Week coordinator (Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton)

The wheels on the bus came back to get us

On Thursday, April 17 our infant-toddler program, Dandelions, was thrilled to enjoy a nice lunch at the Dubh Linn Gate in Whistler.

After eating some delicious food we decided to head to the bus stop, as naptime was quickly approaching for these 12 very tired children. The children were very full of yummy food, and sleepy.

When we arrived at the bus loop our bus pulled away right in front of our eyes. Twelve very tired children, and three teachers, were sad to see we were only a couple seconds late, but quickly were looking at what bus to grab next — a 20 minute wait.  

We were thrilled when we realized that Kurt, the driver of the #4 marketplace shuttle that day, saw this happen and quickly radioed the bus back. Our number #6 (Bus # 9407) Tapley's bus driver (forgive us for forgetting his name) turned the bus back into the bus loop and picked us up.

Not only did this bus driver and Kurt save us from waiting a long time for the next bus, they helped all the children and the wagons onto the bus, which made for a quick and easy transition.

Kurt and Mr. Bus driver, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

As locals, teachers and professionals we know that you went above and beyond for us and for that we are grateful. I hope that this reaches both of you and you are able to get a little recognition. You made our day and you made 12 children very happy.

Thank you.

Courtney Brown, Dandelions Program

Whistler Children's Centre

A bit of hop-growing history

I have some interesting history and origins of the hop industry in B.C.

In 1938, my great-grandfather, Zentaro Shin, led a delegation of farmers to seek a more profitable and stable crop than berries.

He researched farms in the northwestern United States. Hops were used in brewing beer and were selected as an experimental crop. It was a great success, as the yield value per acre turned out to be three times that of strawberries, and with less work.

As the manager of this new cooperative venture, he led the Fraser Valley farmers to increase their hops acreage, and a drying kiln was built in 1940. A new era was begun for the Japanese-Canadian farmers as acreage of hops in the lower Fraser Valley was tripled in the spring of 1941.

When World War II came, my great grandfather's own 100-acre hops farm was confiscated.

His life in Canada started with a boarding house business in 1911 at Britannia Beach. A few years later they moved to Whonnock and started a strawberry farm, then had successful logging camps on Galiano and Salt Spring Island that supplied his own mill, Whonnock Lumber Mill Ltd. All of this was also confiscated during WWII by the government from this entrepreneurial and well-respected Canadian family of 10.

Martine Dubuc

Garibaldi Highlands

Tacky Bingo — another big success!

We would like to thank all of the sponsors, volunteers and participants that made "Tacky Bingo" another big success. Bicycles for Humanity and the Rotary Club of Pemberton have joined forces this year to fundraise to ship a container of used bicycles to Lesotho, Africa.

The project this year is called "Bikes for Lesotho," and along with bicycles we are also sending educational tablets that can be used in remote areas.

We are still looking for bikes for the container, which can be dropped off at the Aava Hotel in Whistler (4005 Whistler Way).

Thank you for your support!

Pat and Brenda Montani, Bicycles for Humanity

Marnie Simon and Liz Scroggins, Rotary Club of Pemberton

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