Letters to the Editor for the week of November 10th 

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  • File photo

Transit and what needs to be done to get me out of my car

Throwing new money and new buses at transit will not get me out of my car unless a fundamental change in the way transit is delivered occurs.

In the winter time, I commute to work in the village. It takes me 10 minutes to drive and I have free parking. The transit system needs to be able to compete with this convenience.

The current system is route-based; it is slow and does not suit the busy and active lifestyles of this town. I propose that Highway 99 be treated as a rapid transit artery. Express buses would travel up and down Highway 99 between Cheakamus Crossing, Creekside, the village and Emerald Estates.

The buses would not leave the highway to stop at Rainbow, or Meadow Park or Nesters etc. The only stops where these buses would leave the highway are Creekside and the village. Some more bus pullouts and pedestrian crossings would need to be built along the route.

A bus-only lane would need to be built in high congestion areas of Highway 99, like what was done during the Olympics.

The current transit bus loop in the village is located in a congested area and needs to be moved to a different location, probably where the current Greyhound bus loop is located. These express buses would not follow a fixed schedule necessarily, but one could depend on a bus showing up at least every 10 minutes, much like riding the SkyTrain in the city.

At the larger subdivisions, a route-based system would be in place that would link to the main transit artery, not the village. These buses probably don't even need to be full-size buses, and would run on a fixed schedule.

More ski and boot lockers should be located at the ski lifts so local transit users do not have to lug their ski equipment on the bus.

Public transit in this country will always be a bit of hard sell.

North Americans are brainwashed to love their vehicles. For public transit to become mainstream in Whistler, it needs to be reliable, efficient, relevant and as convenient as driving.

Andrew Wilkins

Singing Pass trail access

Thank you for publishing the article on access to Singing Pass in the Oct. 27 issue of Pique.  A couple of corrections and clarifications:

Doug Forseth from Whistler Blackcomb (WB) is quoted as saying that the access road is their working access to the top of Blackcomb in the summer. We realize that, but we suggest that WB's security gate could be installed 300 metres above the sliding centre where the Blackcomb mountain access road leaves the IPP road and turns north. If 300 metres of road above the sliding centre is widened a little, we don't think that the radio protocol would be required for this lower section.

Forseth is also quoted saying that hikers are not interested in using the Whistler Gondola to access the alpine hiking trails. That is not true.

Many hikers do use the gondola to access the trail to Singing Pass on the Musical Bumps. However, the gondola does not eliminate the need for proper access from the valley floor. The gondola does not run early enough in the morning to access a number of destinations and it closes too early in the evening. Cost is also an issue for some hikers and climbers. Many people enjoy hiking the trail.

Some more information about the old road on the south side of Fitzimmons Creek: BC Recreation and Trails tried to repair the trail on the old road this summer but a short section soon washed out on the old slump.

Given the significant positive impact of tourism to the Whistler economy, we hope that the government will make the modest investment required to provide reasonable access to Garibaldi Provincial Park on both the north and south sides of Fitzimmons Creek.

We also hope that Whistler Blackcomb will support improved public access to this fantastic alpine area in Garibaldi Park. We look forward to working with all stakeholders.

Jay MacArthur
Director, Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC

What's old is new again

Many years ago, I worked on top of a 1,500-metre mountain in Germany's Black Forest. I was in the French Air Force, doing the then-compulsory military service (two years, practically unpaid). It was a restricted area, fenced and patrolled non-stop by teams of soldiers with dogs. 

Lunch and dinner came by truck from the officer's mess (most of the staff in the command post on the mountain were officers), but we made coffee and snacks during the day (we worked 24-hour shifts, monitoring the air space for alien planes).

Several times during the day, a couple of soldiers had to go down to the guard post at the entrance, they filled up jerry cans with potable water and went back up to the command post, even in pouring rain, snow etc.

We had no choice. Besides, we needed water to drink and make coffee. We used china plates, cups, glasses, cutlery that had to be washed.

J.L. Brussac

International Day of the Girl

This week, I had the privilege of transferring $8,000 to the Howe Sound Women's Centre and One Horizon on behalf of everyone who was part of Whistler's Celebration of International Day of the Girl.

On Oct. 12, along with 230 people, we listened to four incredible speakers who talked about the power of having sparkle and grit — not only in business but in life.

Our MC, Heather Paul, opened the evening with a "Letter to My Son" that blew the crowd away, and we ended with the film Dream, Girl, which highlighted incredible female entrepreneurs who use their sparkle and grit every day.

This event wouldn't have been possible without the volunteers who gave their time, energy, and smiles, our partners — ShannonSusko.com, Community Futures, Origin Design, Tourism Whistler, Freeman Audio Visual, The Summit Lodge, Mountain FM, and Futurpreneur, and silent auction donors — Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Whistler Blackcomb, Arc'teryx, Dirt Trek Series, Bearfoot Bistro, Scandinave Spa, Stacey Bodnaruk, Thread Bear Brow Bar, and Lululemon.

I hope that this event continues to inspire our community, support our youth as they become the next generation of leaders, and to show that by having some sparkle, underpinned with a whole lot of grit, is how we can all make a difference.

Dee Raffo

Tapley's Halloween thank you

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the 33rd Tapley's Halloween festivities. The rain held off, miraculously, and there was a huge turnout of enthusiastic trick or treaters.

Local residents once again went overboard to create a spooky and festive atmosphere, complete with actors, smoke, lights, music, hot adult drinks and, of course, lots of candy! 

Special big thanks to Bruce Stewart and Nesters Market for their generous candy contributions, as well as sponsoring the spectacular fireworks display again, safely set off by the Whistler Fire Rescue Service. Also, big thanks to BC Transit, Whistler Marketplace, Fastpark and the RMOW for organizing the free Park and Spook shuttle and to the Waldorf School kids for their creative decorations. Thanks also go to the RCMP for its ongoing support. 

A new and heartfelt thanks to Leelee from Whistler Balloon Works for creating a beautiful archway at the entrance to Tapley's. Thanks also to our Whistler Secondary School volunteers, lead by Stéphane Barnett for manning the front entrance and organizing the We Scare Hunger food bank drive. 

Thanks also to the IGA, the Grocery Store and local families for their candy donations, also the Whistler Question and Pique Newsmagazine for their promotional support.

It was great to see so many people, young and old dressed up and keeping one of Whistler's oldest, local traditions alive!

Julia Smart, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Julie Hamilton, Alli van Gruen, Dianne Foster and all our Tapley's neighbours!

Will legal pot be all that green?

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada set roll out in the spring of 2017, Shoppers Drug Mart has formally applied to be a distributor of medial marijuana, a recent CBC article reported.

This move by a business operating more than 1,000 stores across Canada begs the question: How will the mass cultivation and distribution of marijuana impact the environment? My concern is that if the federal government partners with a large-scale distributor like Shoppers Drug Mart to distribute legalized marijuana, the environment will take a massive hit.

As a UBC geography student, I have learned that the industrial agriculture system is of major concern to climate scientists. Industrial agriculture creates roughly 30 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pollution from fertilizers, habitat loss, and soil degradation. Under our current illegal system, farmers use lights, ventilation, and dehumidifying technologies to create an artificial indoor environment to grow cannabis, which produces a lot of greenhouse emissions. So with pot on the precipice of a similar fate to industrial agriculture in Canada, it's time to consider how we can shift marijuana cultivation onto an environmentally friendly path.

Here in B.C., growers have already begun to voice their concerns about the large-scale production of pot, envisioning an alternative craft-growery model, similar to craft breweries. Growers believe that consumers will appreciate an environmentally friendly product for a higher price, and the fact that many British Columbians will pay a few extra dollars for craft beer proves this concept economically viable.

The craft-growery model will not only encourage environmental stewardship, but also allow small grows already existing under the illegal system a chance to stake their claim in the market. A strong relationship between local growers, consumers, and the government gives consumers knowledge about where their cannabis is coming from and how it is produced — a piece that is largely lacking from industrial agriculture in the country.

So, while it is clear that legalizing pot will affect climate-change goals, if the federal government creates regulation focusing on connecting small businesses, small farms, and consumers, negative environmental impacts can be mitigated.

Madelyn Dekerf

Abandoned vessels — derelict democracy?

What do you get when 338 people of five different political parties sit around a table to deal with a concrete problem, like abandoned and derelict vessels, hundreds of which litter Canada's shores?

You get some progress, incomplete solutions and a clear picture of our flawed democracy. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the House of Commons unanimously passed Motion M-40, to deal with Abandoned and Derelict Vessels, tabled by Liberal MP Bernadette Jordan. M-40 calls for more education, improved ownership identification, and government help to remove abandoned vessels. 

Transport Canada has identified over 240 abandoned or derelict vessels in Canadian waters, undoubtedly an underreported number. Each is, at least, an eyesore and, at worst, a source of environmental contamination and a navigational hazard.

The cost to remove an abandoned vessel ranges from small change to several hundred thousand dollars, depending on complexity. As many old boats near their life end, owners are tempted to dump unwanted vessels in public waters. As litterbugs on land found at the dawn of anti-litter laws, penalties for abandoning vessels are needed to discourage the practice.  

But many government agencies are involved: Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, federal and provincial environmental agencies, and local governments. Overlapping agencies dilute responsibility, cause inefficiency and foster inaction. 

At least M-40 carries some political and moral weight in calling on the government to do something.

The bad news is that motions have no binding legal effect. Furthermore, the wording of the motion is vague, without specific, measurable objectives. While M-40 calls upon the government to "take meaningful steps within six months," the provision is not clear enough to be a serious deadline.

There is no guarantee the government will do anything. To quote an Oct. 24 story by Peter O'Neil in The Vancouver Sun, the "B.C. coast needs policy, not platitudes, to deal with derelict vessels."

In June 2015, I tabled C-695, The Prohibition of Abandoned Vessels, which would have imposed jail time and fines up to $100,000 for abandoning a vessel.

The initiative was a bill, not just a motion, so it would have become enforceable law. I'd worked for four years on the bill, got input from a wide range of stakeholders, consulted with Opposition MPs, and got then Transport Minister Lisa Raitt's support.

The bill made sense; was not ideological; and was popular.  I'm confident it would have passed. But Parliament rose soon after I tabled the bill and it died on the order paper.  

In all my work in Parliament, including two successful Private Members Bills, I was amazed how hard it was to accomplish real progress, and how important it was to seize common ground along the way.

At its best, MPs seriously strive for common ground — they all voted for M-40. At its worst, our processes squander opportunities for progress. Instead of remedies to problems, we get measures to placate voters. 

With so many lawmakers and stakeholders involved, any step forward, like M-40, is bound to be flawed and we ought to "see the glass half full."

But it's frustrating that our processes require so much time an effort, even to pass a non-binding, unambitious motion. As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." 

Let's hope for real action on abandoned vessels — and a more shipshape democracy.

John Weston
West Vancouver

Running supports Food bank

Christine Suter from C2Skymultisport and Dave Clark from the Whistler Half Marathon would like to thank all of the walkers, runners, and volunteers who came out and participated in the Whistler Food Bank 5km fun run and walk in support of Whistler Community Services Society. 

We raised $1,000 and donated over 80lbs of food! Thanks to everyone for supporting our community!

Christine Suter

Recycling changes will create dumping

I recently took a mattress and $15 to the Pemberton Transfer Station only to discover the SLRD no longer accepts mattresses, and for that matter, it no longer accepts gyproc or yard brush waste.

The attendant told me I would have to take the mattress to the Whistler Waste Transfer Station. This entails driving 45 minutes south and 45 minutes back, pay whatever fee they charge, and who knows what kind of traffic one will encounter en route, so with gas, time and dumping fees, you are probably looking at $50 to dispose of a mattress and, more importantly, guess what, our back country and logging roads will just become dumping grounds.

I guess then we can thank the bean counters at the SLRD for screwing up our environment!

Len Ritchie

Kudos to Muni Parks Staff

I'm rehabbing from knee-replacement surgery and I walk Emerald Forest and Lost Lake Park trails daily. We sometimes fail to appreciate what a wonderful system of well-planned and beautifully constructed trails we have in our backyard.

Kudos to the trail building crews, parks planners, and Muni Council(s) that have provided this fabulous amenity. I'm so fortunate and proud to live in Whistler!

Neil Collins

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