Since moving from Burnaby into their quaint home overlooking
Nesters Pond nine years ago, Rocket and Kelly Richards have seen a host of
wildlife wander into the area, including bears, coyotes, bobcats, geese —
Over the years, the couple has taken snap shots with a digital
camera clearly depicting these animals playing in the water during summer
months, and walking over the ice in the winter.
Unfortunately, the vibrant ecosystem the Richards love at
Nesters Pond faces a very real threat: the possible relocation of Whistler's
transit station onto the wetland complex.
Over the past three weeks, B.C. Transit has been quietly
conducting a geotechnical analysis of the area to see if the land is suitable
to pave over and erect a hub for Whistler’s new fleet of 20 hydrogen buses
coming in 2009, along with a hydrogen fueling station. Described as an
“environmental assessment”, the analysis has seen an eight-metre dirt road cut
jaggedly into the forest immediately adjacent to the wetland complex to allow large
machines to roll in and drill holes deep into the soil.
"I am shocked," said Kelly Richards from her home on
"If this is sustainable, then I don't understand
According to B.C. Transit representative Chris Lythgo, the analysis
has finished and a report of the findings is now being prepared. But as late as
Tuesday morning, men wearing red waterproof suites and carrying machetes were
still walking through the area, hacking at the felled trees lining the dirt
road. Pink flagging tape has also been tied to several spots within the wetland
"There are other people in our building that aren’t happy
either," said Kelly Richards.
"We are going to see what the MLA (Joan McIntyre) does.
Because we are the only residents of the pond, I just don’t think anyone else
in Whistler realizes what is happening."
Biologist Bob Brett said even if B.C. Transit concluded the
landscape is too environmentally sensitive for the bus station, the
geotechnical work done so far will still leave a scar on the environment.
He stressed the wetland complex is interconnected with the rest
of Whistler's ecosystem, which is exemplified by the fact Kelly and Rocket have
spotted an otter in Nesters Pond.
While otters and other large mammals like bears and coyotes can
move through the valley more easily than creatures such as frogs and voles,
they all require some level of connectivity, which ecologists call stepping