Letters to the editor 

Whistler’s spirit shows

Every year, the Whistler Village Church at Millennium Place puts on two Christmas Eve services for the enjoyment of local and visiting Christians, or indeed for anyone seeking an experience of warmth and love at this special time of year. All are welcome. The 6:30 p.m. service, a Nativity service specifically for families and children, is particularly popular, and dozens of disappointed worshippers are annually turned away from the packed theatre.

Knowing the special place this service holds in people's hearts made it especially traumatic when we discovered last minute that our minister was unable to make it up the highway from Vancouver!

We are a small church, with a tiny roster of volunteers, and I would like to acknowledge the generous response of those volunteers, who responded with grace and humour to the daunting task of hosting the services alone. Thanks to them, all who attended enjoyed an experience that sent them out into the snowy night with a warm and happy anticipation for a wonderful Whistler Christmas.

Karen Wootton and Morgan Montgomery each did the work of 20 volunteers. Their unflagging dedication and unending good humour and patience were inspiring to all, and without them it is certain the services would have been cancelled.

Each year, Susan Shrimpton undertakes a Powerpoint accompaniment that is eagerly anticipated for its beauty and deeply moving content; forced to change and adapt the content at the 11 th hour, Susan rose to the challenge with her usual calmness and achieved a result that was acclaimed as her best ever. This meant however, that Susan could not undertake her additional role of “wardrobe mistress” for eager little angels and shepherds, and we must apologize to any disappointed would-be angels and shepherds out there!

Our team of young readers at the 6:30 p.m. service found themselves suddenly without a leader. But they stepped up to the mic and delivered their readings with a mature and professional aplomb that was a lesson to us all. For this, I would like to thank Natasshia, Kenneth and Jacquelin Pamintuan, Harrison, Samantha and Michaela Shrimpton, and Frazer and Morgan McGaw.

Thank you as well to our piano accompanist Rachael Lythe, for patiently accommodating the amateur and impromptu leadership of the services.

We were forced to cancel our Christmas Day morning service, and for this we offer apologies to any who were inconvenienced.

This experience taught me that the Christmas message of God's love can emerge in the most unexpected way, and that the Whistler volunteer spirit is alive and well at our church.

Linda McGaw

Whistler

True spirit shown

I would like to express my thanks to the wonderful people of Whistler who helped my husband Brian on the 16 th of December, when he was injured in the gondola accident.

To the guys who were first on scene, got him out and kept him warm until the ambulance arrived. To the fabulous staff at the Whistler Health Care Clinic who took great care of him. And especially to those who took control when I couldn't think straight and organized last minute childcare and dogcare — better friends one couldn't wish for.

Thanks also to the staff at Whistler Blackcomb for checking in and for their ongoing support. Also to the guys at Sachi Sushi who covered my shifts for the past couple of weeks so that I could play nurse. And to everyone who has called with offers of help or dropped by to say hi.

On this day the people of Whistler showed their true spirit and I am proud to be a part of this wonderful community.

Abbie Finestone

Whistler

Overwhelmed by support

RE: Thursday Night Fundraiser for Neil and Heidi

Thursday night's event was nothing short of unbelievable. Neil has been battling cancer since 2004 and we have been through many ups and downs along the journey. Recent events have kept us from working and in light of this our Blackcomb Ski Patrol family and friends decided to organize a fundraiser to help us in our time of crisis.

The fundraiser was beyond an amazing success. It showed such an outpouring of support, love, and generosity and was a great night to visit with old friends. We are absolutely overwhelmed by the incredible response to help us in this difficult time.

As we struggle to put into words how much this means to us, we are left with two simple words: thank you. Thank you to all the individuals who donated to our cause, many of whom we have not met, and to those who put in so much time and effort to make it all happen.

Neil, Heidi and Reese Voelker

Garibaldi Highlands

Thankful for donations

I much appreciated Lisa Richardson’s article (Under the Tree, Dec. 22, 2008) reflecting the forthcoming generosity of Whistlerites during uncertain economic times. I wholeheartedly agree, charity begins at home and I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Whistler Community Services Society and our many clients, to thank this wonderful community for coming through in spades with donations to our Food Bank and Santa’s Helper Christmas Hamper programs.

As many are aware, our Food Bank was lagging coming into the busy December months, only to be flooded with donations from the many businesses and community groups that chose to host Food Bank fundraisers at their Christmas Parties and a Foundation that saw fit to fund an important local safety net. A very special thank you goes out to The Fairmont Chateau, The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, The Whistler Housing Authority, Nicklaus North Golf Course, Whistler The Magazine, The Whistler Question, Spring Creek and Myrtle Philip Community School, Whistler Secondary School, Innovation Building, the RMOW and Bands Against Hunger.

Furthermore, our Santa’s Helpers Program had a willing list of individuals and businesses who took the time to thoughtfully put together wrapped gifts and gift baskets for the some 20 recipient families. Two things were particularly touching; one, the children of Spring Creek Community School who took the time to hand wrap Christmas crackers for the hampers and second, the sheer joy and appreciation on the faces of the families when the hampers were delivered. This delivery comes from you the community and therefore you deserve to share in this joy.

I would also like to recognize The Fairmont Chateau, The Hilton Resort, The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, CUPE #779, Beth Shaw, BC Liquor Stores, The Howe Sound Teachers Association, The Hilton and Club Intrawest for their donations. Leftover gifts were donated to families in Mt. Currie and the Squamish Christmas hamper program to help them deal with their holiday theft.

Thank you all once again for making the holiday season a little more warm for many locals

Greg McDonnell

Executive Director

Whistler Community Services Society

Christmas arrived early this year

On Dec. 21st at approximately 7:45 p.m. we had a car accident south of Daisy Lake. The two cars that stopped at the scene belonged to Brad, Jason, Heather and Karen. We would like to express our gratitude to all four of them for their selfless act. They checked us out for injuries, made sure we were warm and took complete charge of the situation by calling ambulance, police and tow-truck, leaving only after the ambulance arrived.

It is hard to find words that would convey our appreciation of your help on that Sunday evening. We can only say "Thank you" but your generosity will stay with us forever.

P.S. Many thanks to medical staff, attending police officer and tow-truck driver from Squamish.

Tomas Wolf & Michaela Hanakova

Vancouver

Living in defiance of all that is bad

In response to your editorial and Maxed Out in a recent issue of Pique Newsmagazine , I am reminded of a paragraph from historian Howard Zinn's book, You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train, and I quote: "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that humanity has a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. And, if we do act, in however small way we do not have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now, as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

Ken Hill

Burnaby/Whistler

Just a thought...

While I am a very big supporter of the First Night Celebration in Whistler, I just wonder about the basic premise of holding an alcohol-free event in the midst of a lot of establishments that serve alcohol. There is bound to be conflicts every year that could be avoided quite easily by moving this event, lock stock and barrel, to the base of Blackcomb Mountain.

A few points to ponder...

1. Patrons of the establishments holding celebrations where alcohol will be served would not be forced to pay an additional $15 to attend an event they are not going to. Not to mention the fact that they might have already shelled out as much as $200 to attend an event at a restaurant or nightclub. Doesn't look good when you hear people espousing about value for money in this town, you know.

2. The RCMP could more effectively deal with their zero tolerance policies, which are unfortunately needed to deal with some people who just don't know how to behave in public. Let's face it, no one improves with alcohol.

3.Families would not have to witness people fighting, RCMP dealing with the various problems they encounter, people vomiting from over-consumption, bad language, etc.

4.The base of Blackcomb provides lots of space for all the events planned for First Night, is easily serviced by buses and allows families to enjoy the New Year’s without some of the incidents I listed above. Not to mention it would be a boom for Whistler-Blackcomb and the various establishments in the Upper Village that don't see the crowds like the ones in the village do during this time. It would be easier to police, provide families with the peaceful and disturbance free event and provide a chance for everyone to enjoy their New Year's Eve in the way they themselves choose.

Just a thought...

Chris Field

Whistler

Can't see the forest for the tree

Re: Ryan River public comment period closes (Pique Dec. 18).

I guess what annoyed me most during the Q and A Dec. 4th was the smoke and mirrors that are used to keep the general populous from seeing the big picture. It's not just the Ryan — the focus of that evening — it's the fact that this is but one of 11 potential IPPs in the area. Now that's environmental impact.

Looking at the whole of the province, there are about 660-plus potential licenses that are in the cards. Now that's environmental impact.

And looking at the map of the potential IPPs, a good half of them appear to be within 175 km as the crow flies from Pemberton. Now that's more than environmental impact. That's just wacked.

The EAO rep tried to assuage the crowd with the statement that a lot of these potential sites would not be deemed adequate for IPPs. What is a lot? 50? 100? 200? At 200, that still leaves 400-plus sites that could be developed.

Pemberton is not Sechelt, and it’s not Niagara Falls (why he even brought that up...?). I am sure Regional Power has a good product, but who's going to keep it that way as it changes hands, which appears to be happening with other IPPs already built.

I don't think there was a person there who isn't for business potential in the community. It would be great to see 150 people employed for three years and all that it would bring in for local business/contractors, but I can’t get that big picture, all those potential IPPs and transmission lines webbing their way across this beautiful countryside, out of my mind.

Natalie Mackay

Pemberton

Problems continue to storm Fortress

Well finally some good news for our beleaguered Fortress — Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money TV show took Wes Edens, CEO of Fortress, off his Wall of Shame of America's worst Executives. Cramer's previous comments on Fortress and Edens have included: "I think Fortress is one of the worst things I know," calling "Edens an enemy of stockholders" and he is the "death of capital"; he adds rumours indicate Fortress may be nothing but "a giant castle of cards — a sand castle."

But, "With the stock just above a dollar it’s just mean to pick on Edens anymore. So even though he doesn't do anything to merit a reprieve" Cramer is removing him from the Wall of Shame. "Call it euthanasia."

With Fortress stock now a penny stock at 98 cents it brings its loss this year to more than 92.4 per cent. Public shareholders and Nomura Securities have seen their investment 20 months ago fall from $1.5 billion to $108 million.

And because nearly all of the proceeds of the public issue went to the five selling principals, including Edens, Fortress was not left with much of a cushion to deal with the mess their currently contending with, such as: Half of their shareholders in their largest hedge fund gave notice they wanted out of their units, but in response Fortress halted redemptions.

Many of the larger companies Fortress has an interest in are in trouble, such as Gatehouse Media which is trading at 5 cents (their masthead slogan is "it's all about you").

They also have major positions in sub-prime mortgages, a mortgage fund, a sub prime mortgage company and a German real estate company, all troubled.

The property market of Intrawest continues to dive (France, American ski resorts and Hawaii, interestingly headed up by Whistler's previous mayor, Hugh O’Reilly) while poor snow throughout the West will do nothing to improve things.

Even Vanity Fair weighed in this month. "Would... Citadel be the first hedge fund to go? Or Fortress — whose clients are trying to redeem $4.5 billion."

How can this Apocalypse affect us in Whistler? Hopefully Fortress will sell off Whistler Blackcomb, in order to raise cash, to a corporation with an Olympic bent such as Nike, or even better, another resort operator such as Vail.

The larger problem is in Vancouver where Fortress is halfway through providing the $750 million construction loan for the Olympic village. With cost over-runs of 7 per cent, the developer rumoured to be in a weak position and the condo market dropping like a stone, the city might find itself on the hook for a billion dollar development which at best is just one-third sold at the moment. Shades of Montreal's Big Owe.

I think it would be timely for VANOC to run an Olympic Debt Clock for both Whistler and Vancouver, alongside the Games' Countdown Clock.

Lennox McNeely

Whistler

Make the call

If only a local resident had taken it upon himself to make a phone call, the Excalibur tower break and subsequent negative publicity might have been avoided.

I had CTV Newsnet on when I heard about the tower break. They had a phone conversation with a person who lived in Stoney Creek, which the gondola passes over. This person said he started to hear strange sounds at about 9 a.m. Why would he not report it, and the lift company could have at least had some warning and possibly taken the necessary steps to discover the source of this strange sound?

To anybody in the future, although you may not want to appear foolish and be an alarmist, please make the necessary call if something unusual suddenly appears.

Jim Kennedy

Whistler

Canada’s second language

I am a Brit staying with my daughter and Canadian son in law in Pemberton. I often say to Ian, we are two nations separated by the same language.

Your article two weeks ago headed, "Wind causes power OUTAGES" illustrates this perfectly. What happened to power cuts? Why do Canadians, like their American neighbours, have to invent a new word for every situation? What is wrong with the Queen’s English?

Euan Bowie

Bolton, U.K.

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