Letters to the editor 

Have some respect

I am writing to express my disgust at last week’s Maxed Out column. To publish a column in a local paper, in which G.D. Maxwell graphically gives us his interpretation of various scenarios of dying in an avalanche, on the eve of Steve Clark’s memorial is not only insensitive and inappropriate, it is offensive.

The two men who lost their lives last week did so in areas marked as ski area boundary, because of the early season conditions. They were not in avalanche closures or closed areas. Effectively, even though the areas they were skiing are usually inbounds, they were skiing in the backcountry. As such, they were responsible for their actions. They both paid the ultimate price for those actions. To disrespect them by insinuating they were just too arrogant to think they could get caught in an avalanche, is just wrong. The snowpack we have right now, depending on what source you choose, is the worst in 15-30 years. It has caught out some of the best in the business, not just the two latest victims.

I sincerely hope this column never finds its way to the town of Sparwood and other family and friends of avalanche victims. Reading it would be like rubbing salt in an open wound. The only reason I finished the column was because I kept thinking there must be a point. Apparently, there was not. Maxwell even calls the phrase, “He died doing what he loved,” inane, followed by another graphic description. Many of us in Whistler engage in activities that inherently have varying degrees of risk. Choosing these activities, whatever they may be, means we have accepted the associated risks. We lose good people every year in Whistler, way before their time. This last year has been particularly hard to take. I am sure I am not the only one in town who does find comfort knowing that for many of the people we have lost, were doing what they loved.

Of course Maxwell is entitled to his opinion. His column was titled “Timing is everything.” The day before a memorial, when family and friends are still in shock from their loss is most certainly NOT the time.

Kevin Irvine

Whistler

A Nordic adventure

Congratulations to the new Callaghan Valley Nordic Centre operators for creating a wonderland of Nordic skiing opportunities, staffed by eager, helpful people.

But I am astounded that there is so little recognition of their success in offering skiers the excitement of ongoing bafflement and mystery. No sign at the highway turnoff! No sign saying how far from the highway cutoff to the parking lot! No readable sign at the first parking lot (is this where we park?)! No sign at the second parking lot (maybe here)! No sign on any of the buildings indicating what they are! No sign saying where to buy tickets! No sign posting prices and closing times! Are there really 5 p.m. afternoon closings and 6 p.m. evening openings? A rental gear try-on area blocking the main passageway coming in the door! Wrong scale on the map!

Out on the runs, no direction signs of any kind when you arrive at the first main junction coming out of the lodge! No signs saying which runs have been groomed! Signs at the junctions so small you have to ski right up to them and stop to read them! No graphic images for people who don’t read English! Signs on the hill with the blank back side facing the big coloured incomprehensible maps! Those maps with graphics like a ball of wool and a YOU ARE HERE arrow pointing somewhere in the middle!

Everywhere people confused about where they are, what road leads where, how far it is back to the lodge, what time the shuttle leaves, where it parks, when the café closes! What fun!

Just don’t let the Lost Lake operators come in and spoil it all with their excellent way-finding, common-sense directional signs and readable maps.

Peter Ladner

Whistler

Say not to TCUPs

I would like to thank all of Whistler’s council members for their vote to reject the TCUP bylaw. As an owner of a small, family owned retail business in Whistler we feel very strongly that this is the honourable and fair decision. This decision will reward small businesses like ours, who have paid exorbitant rents for the past five+ years in hopes of finally being rewarded for their commitment to Whistler and for their contribution to the community.

Mayor Ken Melamed should be ashamed of himself for his vote in favour of the bylaw. His job is to look after Whistler, yet he is obviously in VANOC's hip pocket.

The purposed superstore that VANOC intends to build, in hopes of capitalizing on maximum revenues for the few months leading up to, during, and after the Olympics, will inevitably drive the last few remaining small, unique retail stores out of Whistler, leaving it as everyone feared should the Olympics come to town — a corporate village, lacking any unique character that it was once so well known for.

How many months of $15,000-$20,000/month leases has VANOC paid in the past? Businesses such as ours have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in rent for far too long, only to lose out to VANOC, who intend on blowing into town for a few months, maybe a year, and then packing up shop and leaving.

The idea of the TCUP bylaw is completely ludicrous and unacceptable. Please councillors, continue to do as you have and look out for Whistler’s small unique businesses. Save us — say no to TCUP!

Grayson Serfas

The Trading Post at Whistler

Bust the buskers?

Just before the last election the Arts Council sponsored an all candidates forum at Millennium Place. A member of the audience asked why street buskers weren't allowed in Whistler. She went on to explain that in Quebec, where she's from, this a normal expression of life, one that everyone not only loves, but also respects because of the effort the performer puts out to physically entertain.

The question was posed to Mayor Ken because he's been on council for a number of terms and might be able to provide some history from the Muni's point of view. I distinctly remember all of the audience heads nodding in agreement with the question.

Mayor Ken explained that he understood the public's desire for street performance and thought that it belonged in the Whistler scheme of things, but he just didn't know how it could be implemented without some kind of bureaucratic panel to superintend music on the street.

I can’t wait to see the fees, appropriate set list of songs and dress code criteria for a licence to busk in Whistler.

Now, I don't know how many people want to engage the public in this manner, especially in the dead of winter, but I do know a person in this town who has been busking for a number of years and as far as I know he hasn't hurt anyone or Whistler for that matter. In fact, I have stood and harmonized with him on the Fitz bridge while a steady flow of humanity strolled by. Much to the delight of everyone concerned.

I believe that Canada exists on a standard higher than the rest of the world and Whistler even more so, but does that mean we have to sanitize the Whistler experience to such a degree where we scrub the life out of it?

These public performances have been going on for longer than I can remember and it seems that, possibly because of the Olympics, there is an increased pressure to rid our town of anything unsanctioned. Even if it has public support.

Making criminals out of buskers goes too far in the town I love. Whatever happened to the local authourity’s   understanding of compassion, life and common sense in our global village?

Brian Walker

Whistler

PWA position clarified

I’d like to address some comments that Jennie Helmer made in her letter to the Pique last week about the position of the Pemberton Wildlife Association regarding the Ryan River IPP proposal.

It should be noted that Ms. Helmer made these comments without ever actually attending a PWA meeting. Ms. Helmer incorrectly suggested that the Pemberton Wildlife Association has asked for “more” public access in the Ryan River area.

The PWA made comments in the Terms of Reference portion of the Ryan River IPP proposal which stated that “if the IPP was to proceed, public access should be limited to non-motorized.” We believe that it is irresponsible to ignore the possibility of the project going forward despite public concerns, and if that should happen, minimizing motorized use in the area would be beneficial to grizzly bear recovery.

The Pemberton Wildlife Association is on record during the Sea to Sky LRMP process as opposing IPP development in the Ryan, due to the critical nature of the Ryan in grizzly bear population recovery. There has been no change in our position since that time.

The PWA is a membership driven organization; members with issues, suggestions or seeking clarification are encouraged to attend a meeting and work together to address the concerns.

Clarke Gatehouse

President, Pemberton Wildlife Assoc.

The ride of our lives

The morning of Friday, Dec. 12th tried to be a gray and subdued experience. But it stood no chance against the glint of anticipation in the eyes of my three-year-old son Ryder, and his 89 year old grandfather George. For today was the day we had been giggling about for a month.

Three generations of Whistler Huxtable boys were riding on the first Peak 2 Peak gondola from Blackcomb to Whistler.

“It’s really high” had been Ryder’s observation.

“And really red,” chimed in his twin sister Georgia.

Grampa George was slightly more subdued, having achieved Whistler rock-star status since winning Whistler Blackcomb’s ski the most days competition 2002 through 2005.

The momentum started with the call from WB public relations sweetheart Christina Moore, and continued with the care and attention we received from Hayley Ingman and the folks at WB.

And what a ride it was. We were so lucky to share the experience with 20 Whistlerites who so personify what makes this town a special place.

“Smooth as sailing on Lake Simcoe,” came from grampa George, as we glided past the second tower and out over Singing Pass.

Fan or critic, the Peak 2 Peak is an amazing piece of technology. Since opening day I have used it every day to access Blackcomb from Whistler.

The party continued with our arrival at the Whistler station where my wife, Cindy, and our daughters Kaia and Georgia waited, surrounded by a sea of press, friends and overstuffed cuddly mascots.

Many thanks to Dave Brownlie, Stu Rempel, Bob Dufour and all the other folks that made it happen.

And the biggest thank you to the staff in the roundhouse who enjoy my father’s stories every day , and suggested George should be on the first gondola. You are part of a community that makes George’s days full and fun as he wanders the valley.

Please come to Dusty's  this Saturday, Jan. 17th to celebrate George’s 90th birthday.

Gord Huxtable

Whistler

Response to thoughts

Re: Just a thought ( Pique Letter to the editor Dec 31 st )

First off we wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts about First Night, both the RMOW and Watermark welcome feedback and ideas to improve the event.

The choice of Village Square as our primary outdoor venue is one that we’ve discussed on countless occasions and while we’ve looked at alternatives it works on several levels:

Firstly, and most importantly it allows us to “calm” the middle of the village. The event security personnel and the RCMP can work together; this allows us to get maximum use of our resources. We have received a lot of positive feedback since we started the First Night program in its current format and location. And working with the RCMP, we have been very pleased with the dramatic decrease in rowdy behaviour in Whistler on New Year's Eve.

Secondly, the proximity to the TELUS Conference Centre allows us to use it to house many of our activities; this saves a great deal of money that would otherwise have to go towards infrastructure such as tenting and heating. We have received a great deal of positive feedback on the use of the centre, as families appreciate the warm, dry environment in which to celebrate.

Lastly we wanted to ensure we clarify that you do not need to have a First Night ticket to access venues within our fences. We’ve worked with businesses to create access points where we can and in cases where that is not possible, we ensure that their guests can make it through our gates without issue with the help of our Village Hosts who volunteer to man our gates with the security personnel during First Night to ensure minimal inconvenience to our guests.

Again, we appreciate comments and feedback and are always willing to look at options and we’ll certainly look at the merits of including Blackcomb base in future events. We encourage feedback from the community through info@whistlerfirstnight.com.

Sue Eckersley

Watermark Communications Inc.

The year ahead

I predict the Pique will be transformed.

In his last column of '08 Bob is already talking about "identifying a common purpose." I sense he and Andrew will collaborate on a column about the purpose of the electronic drugs companies keep inventing for us to consume.

Of course Max will continue his relentless questioning of the purpose for creating a multibillion dollar spectacle so that a handful of humanity can claim to be the best in the world on a day in 02/10 and get to smile at the camera when the rest of us, if we can stand it, will at most for all of our lives get to smile only at the face in the mirror.

To further transform their newsmagazine from one of information to one of inspiration the three of them will move beyond whether or not the "heartless tin men and women" lose their "sex organs" as a result of Max's curse, beyond whether or not Caleb will earn enough to buy a ticket to heaven, and arrive at the place where they explain why we have let our society deteriorate to the point the top executives in Canada earn as much in the first four seconds of the year as the average Canadian earns in the entire year, a situation that is the antithesis of common purpose.

Doug Barr

Whistler

www.thelastwhy.ca

Not perfectly, Euan

My Collins English Dictionary defines "Power cut" as "a temporary interruption or reduction in the supply...", and "outage" as "a period of power failure… etc."

"Outage" is more useful here, as it covers all such events, and most of our outages are not deliberate power cuts anyway.

Bob Eldridge

Pemberton

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