Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Building leaders today prepares us for future


Thanks for yet another editorial on our collective need to focus on the period after 2010, asking whether we have “done enough to open the doors to a new generation of leaders willing to guide Whistler in the post-Olympic era?” (History teaches us to look ahead – July 5, 2007). This echoes many of the concerns expressed at a number of our Dialogue Cafes recently.

While we wisely establish a Legacies Fund Society to cover the costs of newly built infrastructure, we are fiscally weak when it comes to the resources required to build the social infrastructure and leadership capacity to address post-Olympic challenges.

With the guideposts of Whistler 2020 we are early adopters of the Natural Step. But we also need to ensure that we are early adapters to the changes in our often unpredictable and complex global marketplace.

And the growing diversity of our local and regional population, including new relationships with Lil’wat and Squamish Nations, challenges a homogeneous status quo.

These challenges and others can in part be met with the development of skilled and collaborative community leadership that should not be left to chance.

Leadership Sea to Sky for the past three years has attempted to focus on developing these leadership qualities and to fill this social infrastructure gap. Thankfully 48 individuals from businesses, governments and non-profit groups, from First Nations and our three local communities in the corridor, have taken the time and made the commitment to prepare for a collaborative if uncertain future.

We have focused on developing better understandings and skills of knowing self, knowing the region, engaging with others and taking action. And at our recent graduation of Cohort III, a long time senior member of Whistler remarked how confident she felt that “we will be in such good hands”.

But as we continue to expand, improve and raise funds for Leadership Sea to Sky we need feedback and input from all sides. Some see a more integrated corridor-wide, less Whistler-centric future. What implications does that have for us today? Others see a future that involves more educational connections with centres of learning for informing knowledgeable ways of thinking through trade-offs and making tough choices in collaborative ways. How can we collectively nurture these connections?

The first “Corridor Canoe” trip for community and aboriginal leaders is set for July 27/28 on Howe Sound and exploring ways of just getting to know each other better. Our Cohort’s pro bono projects on environmental education networks, smart transportation systems, gateways to Asia, facilitation and conflict resolution, labour shortage, engaging with youth, healthy seniors, building cultural alliances, friendship trails and diversifying tourism opportunities, are all foundations upon which to build. But how? Is it all the responsibility of governments?

Your editorials and coverage in Pique Newsmagazine contribute with an emphasis on future-focused journalism that asks what can go right tomorrow instead of just what went wrong yesterday. Local governments, businesses and donors that have generously invested in individuals in Leadership Sea to Sky can assist with alumni and others in strengthening networks of responsibility across the corridor. And yes, at Leadership Sea to Sky, we encourage interested and concerned citizens to contact us especially as we prepare for Cohort IV this September.

History does teach us to look ahead wisely. Looking into a complex and uncertain future we need collectively to focus on building the capacity for skilled collaborative community leaders today.

William Roberts

For Leadership Sea to Sky

A Program of the Whistler Forum

A cry for help

Help! It is rarely, if ever, that I have asked for help, being the self reliant, solitary soul that I am. But, this is the time, and I am not ashamed to admit this.

With Canada Day a scant few days past, and the swollen breasts of a proud citizenry slowly returning to normal, I have been wading through the Constitution and Charter of Rights of this great land of ours, looking for one specific statute. I had hoped to find it under the heading of “Your Right to do as you please with no regard to your fellow citizens.” To no avail. I am absolutely convinced this right exists, and is enshrined in the Charter. I have simply not been able to find it, would love to read it, hence my plea for help.

I am certain it exists, because I see it exercised almost every day. It must be there! Young yahoos roaring through Alpine Meadows on their motorbikes, no licence plates, right past the cop house. Chewing up the taxpayer-funded mountain bike trails above Alpine. ATVs cruising through the subdivision. Never mind the kind souls who so generously share their noise masquerading as music from their boom boxes. Thank you very much! If I want to rattle my window panes, I’ll do it myself, playing my own noise.

Meanwhile, I am drowning in sustainability, surrounded by honkin, huge, gas guzzling 4x4s, loaded to the gunnels with snowmobiles or trail bikes. Eco tourism by Hummer, you get the drift. Dogs and their rights?

This past weekend, we were treated to a couple of evenings of boisterous music and fun, no doubt fully enjoyed by all participants. I have often wondered what would happen if a bunch of energetic Whisterlites went to the city and started partying in someone’s residential neighbourhood.

When I started out in life, mother warned me that it would not always be easy. As folks around me grew old, I was certain this was simply not on for me. How stupid could you get, growing old? But on the off chance that old age would creep up on me, unseen and unheard, I swore to myself that I would make every sincere and serious effort not to grow old a grouchy, miserable old bastard.

Dammit you guys, you don’t make it easy, you know?

Hans Kögler


Council’s vision appreciated

On behalf of the Whistler Gymnastics Club, I would like to offer a 300+ membership thank you to the RMOW and to our council for continuing to support the construction of the athletes’ centre. The athletes’ centre truly will be a lasting legacy from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and will be utilized by our community for a wide variety of activities.

We are very grateful that our community has embraced this project and realizes the benefits of such a centre. This training centre will not only provide a permanent home for the Whistler Gymnastics Club but it will benefit a variety of both elite and recreational athletes of all ages.

Whistler is absolutely the perfect location to support this venue. We have a steady base of incredible athletes pouring into our town everyday, we have the best mountains, the best mountain bike trails, world class coaches and finally, we will have the best facility to cross-train these athletes and keep them healthy and fit year-round. It is our goal to accommodate the needs of as many sports as possible as well as to expand our existing gymnastics programs. Our long-term vision is to create a training facility that becomes the home base for a multitude of sports. There will be affordable housing just steps away, a state of the art weight training room and multi-purpose space for coaches and meetings. In addition to accommodating athletes, this facility will be a perfect venue for corporate team building programs, wellness activities and special events.

Once again, thank you RMOW and thank you council for having the vision and commitment to move this project forward.

Jan Budge

President Whistler Gymnastics Club

Responding with a gun

I read the online article about the cougar that is believed to be the one seen several times around the valley, and how it was shot and killed.

So we come to this land, we build this massive resort in what was wild animal territory and we just destroy everything that threatens us.

Could the cougar not have been captured and relocated?

I read how it was people friendly. Did it attack anyone?

Humans are the only animals that don’t adapt to their environment; we make the environment adapt to us.

So next time there is a strange person in a strange area maybe we should just shoot him/her.

I re-read the article twice just to make sure there was no mention of an attempt to relocate the cougar. Washington is in the process of spending $1.1 million for response teams for bears and cougars. But I forgot, we need a new municipal building and a library and a new gondola first before anything else.

Paul Rowe


Cleaning up water issues

The Resort Municipality of Whistler would like to confirm that there is no evidence of contamination of Alta Lake from properties with leaking septic fields along Alta Lake Road.

In October 2006, the municipality commissioned NovaTec Consultants Inc. to perform a bacteriological study of soil and water along the west side of Alta Lake in support of our grant application for new sewer infrastructure. This study concluded that over 50 per cent of the lots in this area are insufficiently serviced and the samples showed contamination in the soil and ditches along the road. However, samples from Alta Lake indicated that pollution from the septic fields was not contaminating the lake.

This spring, the RMOW fisheries technicians collected 18 water samples at the three municipal beaches on Alta Lake. Sixteen of these samples have shown a fecal coliform level of 5 cfu/100mL or less; the other two showed levels of 15 and 25 cfu/100mL. Vancouver Coastal Health recommends not swimming in areas where the fecal coliform count reaches 200 cfu/100mL. Again, the data indicates that there is no contamination of the lake from the existing septic and sewer systems.

The municipality has reapplied for a rural infrastructure grant to two-thirds of the cost of connecting 39 properties along Alta Lake Road to the municipal sewer system. Council resolved that this project is a priority for a grant. The estimated project cost is $3.2 million. Though a decision has not yet been made about this project, sewer installations in other neighbourhoods were funded by grants, with the remainding cost shared between property owners and the municipality.

A concern about swimmer’s itch in Alta Lake has also been expressed. Swimmer’s itch is not related to the septic fields on Alta Lake Road. The major cause of swimmer's itch is microscopic parasites of aquatic, migrating birds and some mammals. A larval parasite, called a cercaria, is released by snails and can mistakenly penetrate a person's skin rather than its rightful host, usually a duck. Swimmer's itch occurs in both freshwater and marine coastal environments.

The parasite dies upon entering our skin. Unfortunately, our bodies still treat it as infectious and send antibodies to the affected areas. The uncomfortable result is itchy, swelling red welts that can last for a few days, up to a week. More severe cases are rare. Itching can be reduced by using anti-itch lotions, taking a shallow bath with 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and/or taking antihistamines, if permitted.

Swimmer’s itch can be avoided by towelling off vigorously or showering immediately after leaving the water. The municipality has installed outdoor showers at Lost Lake and Wayside Parks. They will be installed at Rainbow and Lakeside Parks over the week, and in the meantime, the rinse stations are operable. Wearing waterproof sunscreen may also help to reduce the potential of swimmer’s itch, but it won’t fully protect you.

We hope this clarifies some misunderstanding about the public health and water quality concerns with Alta Lake.

Diana Waltmann

Information Officer

Resort Municipality of Whistler

There still are people who care

It is so good to know that there are still people out there in our community who really care.

This past Saturday I wanted to check out a garage sale in Nordic and decided to make a morning out of it and bike to the sale. After having what I thought was “my workout for the day,” I arrived only to feel very dizzy and nauseous, but still managed to pick some things out. Even after sitting down and gulping down some water it was then that I realized something wasn’t right and I needed some medical attention.

As things literally began to blur around me, I managed to call out to a gentleman who immediately came to my side. I guess from the condition I was in, numerous people at the garage sale, including “Lynn” who was holding the sale, were all quick to come to my aid. I vaguely remember how many people were actually around me as my body went into the most painful muscle spasm anyone could ever imagine. Luckily for me, another lady did come forward who advised me she had first aid training and looked after me until the paramedics arrived. Even though all these people were complete strangers, it was so comforting to know that I was in good hands.

So I would just like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you to all those people who helped me that morning. From the lady who got “the better paper brown bag” to the other people who stole cushions from the garage sale to support me from that rocky ground. And a special thanks to “Lynn” on Aspen Drive, “Jody” who gave me first aid and “Manon” who came with me to the clinic and drove me home to make sure I was okay. I truly appreciated it!

Marjorie Ordona


Trail Riders Day a big success...!

Thanks to Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) and B.C. Mobility and all their volunteers for making Trail Riders Day at Cheakamus Lake such a success on the Canada Day long weekend. It was my first time attending such an event, mainly due to the fact I had a visitor from the Whistler for the Disabled website and his friend take part. It was great to check things out and see that activities for the disabled are available in Whistler thanks to some hard-working individuals.

Trail Riders are modified wheelchairs that can go into the woods on singletrack trails, up and down hills and over obstacles if needed. B.C. Mobility had come up from Vancouver and Chelsey Walker (WASP) came along and provided the volunteers needed to push and pull the Trail Riders with our mobility restricted guests to Cheakamus Lake and back. It was impressive to see everyone work so well together as a team.

Phil Chew (leg amputee) even rode by us on his mountain bike to provide some inspiration to everyone along the way. A big "thank you" goes out to all the organizations and volunteers who gave up a Saturday on a long weekend to make this happen and provided opportunities for the disabled to be more active and experience things they would not be able to do on their own.

Huey Tollett