Letters to the editor for the week of September 10th 


Camp accommodation?

This is a repeat of a letter I wrote to the editor 15 years ago.

Former mayor Hugh O'Reilly in good conscience believed that Whistler's service workers should be integrated into the town's population where everyone could mix it up and be happy.

I wondered about the financial aspects and accommodation shortage back then, and the apprehension has come to fruition.

Let community leaders, the municipality, Whistler Blackcomb and other employers having such a tough time attracting workers in this expensive resort establish an Atco-type modular home camp on leased crown land just out of town.

These camps can be set up quickly and are designed to be sleeping quarters, recreation halls, wash (areas), dining halls and kitchens.

They presently house over 4,500 workers in Fort McMurray and all over the world. Forty degrees below? No problem!

I have lived in these camps on the Churchill River... very comfortable and great camaraderie. I even went on to sell camps for Atco in every major city in Western Canada.

Efficiency of scale is obtained in these non-profit camps, as per cheaper meals and amenities. Come get your $5.75 spaghetti Bolognese and $2.75 beers.

Have Whistler Blackcomb donate shuttle services on their 1988 Calgary Olympic buses, back and fourth on a regular schedule. The camp would provide a centre to which donations could flow.

I am sure the kids would have an even greater experience being together than couch surfing helter skelter throughout our town, and I'm sure guaranteed accommodation on arrival at a fair price for employers would decrease the angst over our shortage of workers.

The rooms, the apartments and the houses they leave vacant? Hey, rent 'em out to tourists and get our Whistler hopping again.

Kerry Dennehy

Setting the record straight

The trouble with a hammer is that every problem becomes a nail. The trouble with someone who has decided to take a strident ideological viewpoint is that everything becomes black-and-white.

Dave Brown's diatribe ("Set the Record Straight on Fisheries," Pique, Aug 27, 2015) turns a blind eye to the many things we have accomplished in this riding in support of sustainable fisheries.

These efforts are working. As The Coast Reporter announced on Sept. 3 ("Record salmon return celebrated"), Sechelt First Nation has witnessed a significant increase in pink salmon runs this year — and praised Canada's Department of Fisheries & Oceans for its close work with the Nation. Sechelt Creek, for instance, has seen approximately 58,000 pink salmon this year; that's up from just 16,000 in 2013.

Our efforts include:

• A $2 million investment in the Pacific Salmon Foundation's "Salish Sea Survival Project." Coming after over two years of collaboration between my team and the volunteer-driven Pacific Salmon Foundation, the funds will go directly to the Foundation's efforts to investigate the factors affecting the survival of juvenile salmon in the Georgia Strait area;

• The creation of the ground-breaking Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, in collaboration with MP Robert Sopuck and other peers. The program received $10 million from the 2013 federal budget, and $15 million in Budget 2014, to fund habitat enhancement;

• Over $57 million in federal investment on May 22, 2015 toward research facilities, marine protection and research on Pacific salmon, including $2.2 million in federal investment in the DFO Laboratory and its scientists in West Vancouver. 

This is all in addition to the growing Salmonid Enhancement Program, which operates 23 salmon hatcheries and spawning channels, and works to restore fish habitats. With an operating budget of $26 million this year (2014-2015), they work closely with community groups, schools and volunteer organizations such as the Streamkeepers.

Over the past 10 years, more than 3.5 billion fish have been released through this program.

A party in government governs for all 34 million people; it must stimulate the economy, promote jobs, and spend taxpayers' money responsibly. We may all disagree with aspects of the government's program, but should not forget the big picture.

And let's not reduce our thinking to the black-and-white world, where every problem is a nail, and every solution, a hammer.

John Weston
Conservative Candidate for Member of Parliament
West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country

(Editor's note: Dave Brown's letter asked MP Weston to set the record straight on fisheries, from his perspective. While Pique is no longer publishing letters from federal election candidates at this time due to the upcoming election, Pique thought it fair to allow MP Weston to make his point on fisheries having been asked to do so.)

Thanks and congratulations

On behalf of the Pemberton Arts and Culture Council (PACC), I would like to acknowledge the generous donations we received from the sponsors of the Sea to Sky Charity Golf Tournament.

Sue and Bob Adams, owners of the Whistler Grocery Store, Pemberton Valley Supermarket and Delish Catering and Nick Papoutsis at Blue Shore Financial partner to hold this popular fundraiser each year.

The Sea to Sky Charity Golf Tournament selects a different community organization every year as a beneficiary for the funds raised at the golf tournament. Last year the libraries in Whistler and Pemberton were the fortunate recipients. This year the two arts councils are the grateful beneficiaries.

The PACC will be using the funds to offer a new day-long program for families and children to their Music, Art, Dance, Expression (MADE) fundraiser in October to celebrate the arts and culture of the Pemberton region.

The sponsors of the Sea to Sky Charity Golf Tournament have been long-time supporters of many community initiatives. The Whistler Health Care Foundation, as an example, has benefited from Sue's leadership in planning its annual fundraiser Indulge.

Blue Shore and the businesses Sue and Bob own have also been loyal sponsors of this event.  

I was especially delighted to learn that Sue was awarded the Freedom of the Municipality award at Whistler's 40th anniversary celebration. This is the highest award the municipality can make and choosing Sue Adams as one of the three to be honoured was very fitting.

Congratulations to a special lady who quietly and tirelessly works to support and guide the community she calls home.

Marnie Simon
President, Pemberton Arts and Culture Council

Inukshuk on the move

It was with mixed emotions that I watched as the Inukshuk in the entrance of the Whistler Public Library was dismantled with the view to moving it to a new location at the Whistler Museum.

There is quite a story behind this iconic piece of Whistler community history: In 2005 a group of students from the Jimmy Hikok Ilihavik Elementary school in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, travelled to Whistler to take part in the building of an Inukshuk to commemorate the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games logo announcement.

The pieces that made up the Inukshuk had been collected and assembled by the students and their elders from the surrounding area of Kugluktuk.

They were carefully numbered for the journey, then reassembled on the deck of the 2010 Information Centre. It was a moving ceremony as the Inukshuk was presented to the community.

The Inukshuk was a highlight of the displays at the 2010 Information Centre, which was host to many thousands of visitors in the years leading up to the Games.

Following the closure of the Information Centre in 2009, to make way for the construction of the Medals Plaza, the Inukshuk was relocated to the foyer of the WPL. A base was made for it and the Inukshuk itself was cemented together to ensure its longevity!

As we all remember, the WPL was the host venue for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and acted as Whistler's Canada House for the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Our Inukshuk stood proudly at the entrance as athletes, their families and many dignitaries from around the world came to mix and mingle. It was a great talking point and continued to be so in the years to come.

While the WPL is quieter now it is still a major hub of community activity and the foyer, especially, has become a very busy place.

Our Inukshuk has become vulnerable and so a decision was made to move it to the Whistler Museum where, in time, it will be rebuilt and again be a part of our Whistler 2010 Winter Games heritage.

The Winter Games of 2010 was such a special time for us as a community, and we owe it to future generations to retain those legacies that we acquired, so that they too can share in the pride that we all felt as our town hosted the world for those amazing weeks in 2010.

So adieu special Inukshuk until we see you again standing proudly in the Whistler Museum.

Alix Nicoll

Pemberton going to the dogs too?

In response to the article, "Is Whistler going to the dogs," Pique Sept. 3 — I have been in Whistler's parks a few times this summer and I completely agree with comments made in the article. 

I live in Pemberton and it is the same here as well — very minimal leash use. Thanks to those that are using leashes.

There is a high volume of dog feces on all trails in village boundaries. When you call the Village of Pemberton office to have a bylaw officer do something about all the stray animals he may or may not be available, as I understand he has a four-on four-off schedule.

So dog bylaws are being enforced half the year at best.

It is about time Pemberton does something about all the issues with non-compliant dog owners within the village boundaries, so all trail users can enjoy this great area we live in. 

Matt Olfert

Ascent for Alzheimer's raffle winners

The prize draw for the Ascent for Alzheimer's Raffle (B.C. Licence # 76431) was held in Whistler on August 30, 2015 at 5 p.m. at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

Eight prizes with a total value of over $3,000 were generously donated by local businesses.

The prizes and winners are: Prize # 1 from the Chateau Fairmont Whistler won by Brent Raabe, Coquitlam; Prize # 2 from the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa won by Marija Bucevska, Vancouver; Prize # 3 from the Bearfoot Bistro won by Clare Ogilvie, Whistler; Prize # 4 from Araxi Restaurant won by Deb Cuthbert, North Vancouver; Prize # 5 from Vincent Massey Pottery won by Pauline de Bretan, Whistler; Prize # 6 from the Whistler Racquet Club won by Jugral Arueja, Vancouver; Prize # 7 from Fanatyk Co. won by Joyce Lam, Vancouver ; and, Prize # 8 from Pemberton Distillery Tours won by Heidi Kym, Pemberton.

Ticket sales in Whistler and Vancouver raised $5,800. A generous donation from Scotiabank has increased the total proceeds to $7,800 for the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to these Whistler businesses for their wonderful contributions to the raffle, and to our volunteers in Whistler and Vancouver who worked so diligently on the ticket sales. And, thanks to everyone who purchased a raffle ticket.

Erika and Kim Durlacher
Ascent for Alzheimer's 2015

Pot calling kettle black?

David Suzuki is wrong to imply that the group I lead, the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), was set up by "fossil-fuel interests" (Pique, Sept.3, 2015).

In reality, the ICSC was founded in 2007 by Terry Dunleavy, OBE, of New Zealand. Mr. Dunleavy is a leader in that country's wine industry. Mr. Dunleavy found that there was such strong worldwide support for the non-partisan, science based approach of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition that an international body taking the same tack would be beneficial.

Since I assumed the Executive Director role of ICSC in 2008, the identities of all donors to ICSC has been 100 per cent confidential to protect their privacy, and quite frankly, safety.

Some of the scientists who advise us on a volunteer basis have had death threats for speaking out against the idea that dangerous climate change is occurring as a result of humanity's relatively small carbon dioxide emissions. We would not want to risk subjecting the people generous enough to help ICSC cover its modest operating expense to such abuse.

It is ironic that David Suzuki accuses his opponents of being "secretive organizations (that) rarely reveal funding sources" when, according to its 2009 annual report, the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) received $1 million or more from "Anonymous." According to its 2010 annual report, the DSF received between $10,000 - $99,999 (exact amount not listed) from "87215 Canada Ltd."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)
Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Welcoming PEERS

The PEERS (Program for the Education & Enrichment of Relational Skills) Certified School Based Training that equips the teaching professional with a capacity to deliver evidence — based social skills to students, recently concluded its three day course in Vancouver.

This certification provides teachers, school psychologists, counsellors, speech and language pathologists, resource teachers and para-professionals the opportunity to address missing social skills in a subset of the school student population that struggle with this skill deficiency, and who are more prone to bullying, teasing, depression and anxiety as they find themselves left out of peer-peer relationships.

The PEERS program was originally developed for high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) students, but is not necessarily limited to this student subset.

The evidence based practice component is important as it provides confidence to parents that schools have invested in training for its staff to deliver best practice effective intervention techniques, and that includes documented result feedback to school-based support teams and parents.

Indeed, as a parent with children diagnosed with ASD condition this type of professional support, whilst overdue, is most welcome, and the UCLA team that developed this intervention are warmly thanked.

It is therefore with a degree of hope that SD48 (Sea to Sky School District) will have now (or will soon) professionals that work within its 14 schools with this certification, and so they will be in a position to make valuable changes to the lives of some of its more vulnerable students. Currently professionals within nine other B.C. school districts have certified professionals that have taken this important course (SD's 6, 8, 20, 22, 23, 34, 57, 73 and 74).

Coupled with this is a need to facilitate the use of evidence-based practices to address student behavioural challenges, one that is of great interest amongst the teaching profession based on feedback one can observe at one of the excellent POPARD courses ('Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications' is a good example).

Whilst only an introduction, is does provide the school professional an opportunity to understand the technique of behavioural assessment within the school setting, which seeks to describe the form and function of the challenging behaviour through A (antecedents), B (behavior) and C (consequences).

This approach to changing challenging student behaviours to those that are more acceptable, based on sound scientific principles known as Applied Behaviour Analysis, is a win-win for both challenged students, staff and other students who have already learned to adapt to challenging school environments without needing specialist intervention, as it can reduce a disruptive classroom to one that is likely (from a parental perspective) to be more amenable to teach in.

Again it is hoped that SD48 school-based professional staff are moving toward implementing these practices and thus getting closer to the goal of full inclusion for our valuable and vulnerable special need students, whilst progressing towards the development for all students to achieve their full potential both within and later outside school.

Whilst only two evidence-based practices have been included here, there are others that seek to address concerns and challenges within ASD students; to the parents who are dealing with these issues I apologize for the restrictive nature of this advocacy correspondence, and recommend you continue to advocate your children's specific needs to the child's school, school district, Ministry of Education and advocacy groups of your choice.

(see http://www.actcommunity.ca/education/act-events/peers-certified-school-based-training/ for more)

Chris Hill

Can't get no respect?

I've been in Calgary the last month, with a little stop off in Banff.  It was a fantastic experience. I found opportunities to entertain the fine folks of Alberta. Just like when I visit Pemberton, Squamish and the greater Vancouver area, I found immediate acceptance for my artistry.  

What I enjoyed most was the freedom to perform to a positive and engaged audience at welcoming venues. They left me alone to be the musician I am, after hiring me for being the musician I am.  

I am heading back to Whistler, and it's bittersweet. I don't know if this is just a stop off to pack up and move on, or not.

I stopped finding acceptance in the Whistler venues. I spent the last year being judged for not being a rock musician. I found it even more amazing that I was being hired based on previous shows where I wasn't playing rock.

I was also hired based on my press kit, which doesn't showcase rock, yet nearly every venue would proceed to tell me that they wanted me to play rock, after they hired me.

One venue even came out to a show, asked me to come play jazz music and half way through the winter asked me to switch it to rock. I am a hot jazz, Americana, R&B, soul, blues, hip hop, funk and reggae performer. I dabble in rock, but it does not excite me and it's not what I present as an option. I want to shake booties, not fists.

I offered covers, in a band that brought our community together.  I shared my shows with others, and showcased travelling musicians. I embraced our resort town's transient culture.

We have so much talent that passes through, and yet venues didn't accept that my Sociables project was showcasing this. Where's the love of the culture that has defined this resort, the people who come and go and share a piece of their souls for the blip in time they stopped by?

I started to crack. I got very jaded. I drew a line in the sand.

Every audience I had, was great. Whistler audiences are fantastic. I've had people dancing on tables, singing along, encores that lasted over an hour, shots and drinks purchased for me, tips and beautiful women going out of their way to talk to me.  

All of this represents a job well done. All of this represents something is working, yet venues would say to me that I wasn't working out.  They would tell me to play like other bands in town, stating the names of other groups and sometimes saying they wanted a cheaper version.  

I can't even tell you how frustrated that made me, and how full of "It" they sounded.  When I had a full dance floor, people engaged throughout the night, it was everything in me to not snap, being told it was no good.  Unfortunately it happened too often and I eventually said "enough!"  

I started presenting my opinions to this town. If we're all going to pretend we know, then the people who actually do this as a living are also going to be heard, take it or leave it.  It might come across as abrupt, but let's be clear; I'm a seasoned veteran in music and have played over 1,000 shows in the Sea to Sky in the last three years.

I know what the audiences in Whistler do; I have experienced them enough to read them. I also know that ebb and flow of a resort has nothing to do with the efforts of a musician.

If the night is slow, it's slow everywhere. It's rare that it's busy at one place and nowhere else, unless it's dead in town and a locals' night somewhere.

Most of the people who hire music in Whistler are not musical people, have never played a show, don't know how to read an audience and have very little concepts about the diverse nature of music, yet they feel they can offer a seasoned player their opinions, make or break their careers while cutting them off at the knees?  

So I got a chance to find greener pastures, and every time I left town I realized that it really isn't about what I do. This is about Whistler. This is about the people in charge and their opinions. It's about a lack of respect for what creative, passionate and hard working people do.  It's about the opinion of one or two people who often have no idea what it means to be a musician, let alone only care about the music they know.

As if our American visitors don't like American Roots music?  It is their music, it defines our continent, and I chose to play this because it resonates with millions of people.  

So now I'm on my way back to Whistler, fully knowing that I will not find work in the career I've worked tirelessly at for decades.

I used to work on the management team at Whistler.com.  I sold our resort experiences to the world.  I trained teams to do this.  I understand the importance of selling a dream and lately I've been wondering what's so special about Whistler?

Outdoor life is fantastic. The air is fresh. There's some great food. The friends we make, living here, can really be a special thing. There's also a whole bunch of franchised concepts, bottom-line cultures that pander to the lowest common denominator and as we walk from one end of the village to the other, where's the soul?  

Music is soul, artistry is soul, and diversity is what showcases a culture. The arts council gets it, they have a mandate and if they were the ones booking in all the venues we'd actually see some creative diversity. Outside of that, what we get isn't really that broad and on top of it we don't nurture the local offerings.  We pretend a couple musicians playing to a DJ spinning canned tunes is a live music night, or that the only band that's any good is a duo doing pub sing alongs, so that everyone can sing-a-long. Why even hire them. It may as well be karaoke night. Spotify has some sing-a-long playlists that'd be a whole lot cheaper, and about the same experience.

I find it amazing that I can go to areas of Canada where the world doesn't visit all year round, and they are more culturally accepting of diverse artistry than a resort that attracts the world.  Why is it that I can leave this resort and be accepted for the work I put in, the skill set I have nurtured, yet when I am in my home I am treated like I have no right to be there?

We want to celebrate becoming a cultural hub because the VSO has brought artists in residence this summer, yet the artists actually in residence, year round, slogging away at defining this resort as something of a cultural hub are judged, told to conform to the same concept or move on.

I am left with the option of fighting for a place or leaving my home, my friends and the life I've built here just to find acceptance and the ability to earn a viable living.

I have to move on because I don't play rock music. Makes me think of the people in the 1950s that were kicked out of venues for playing rock music. The punk rocker in me wants to riot to some sweet Louis Armstrong trumpet solos.    

Monty Biggins


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