I would like to thank Jim Horner and Bruce Kay for recent efforts to raise awareness regarding threats to B.C. wild salmon stocks brought on by the fish farming industry.
Readers should know that Jim recently paid, out of his own pocket, for full-page ads in local papers. Unselfish support for a cause that one feels strongly about should not go unnoticed.
Additional threats to the wild salmon of B.C. can be identified with increased habitat loss. The private power producers are doing their best to build dams on every free flowing waterway left in the province, which will have devastating downstream impacts to spawning and rearing grounds on a cumulative scale. Just as the fish farming corporations are mainly Norwegian multi-nationals, the private power proponents are U.S. based corporations with Canadian shell companies. Unlike the Jim Horners of this world these morally challenged people put profits and personal wealth ahead of our natural environments and the creatures that depend on same.
We know that a strong sense of environmental stewardship exists in this area. For that reason there should be more than a few people who would like to join fisheries biologist Alexandra Morton on her 500 km walk to Victoria to raise awareness for our wild salmon. The walk ends on May 9.
I personally have not attended a protest since 1971, as a student in Vancouver. The issue of the day back then was nuclear weapon testing in Amchitka, Alaska. What came of that day was an organization called Greenpeace. That weapon program was halted after one test, but Greenpeace became the first of many groups to raise public awareness of environmental issues that are still facing us.
This is one of the most important issues we face today. A large turnout in Victoria could force government officials to start acting in the best interests of British Columbians, not their corporate supporters.
They deserve a medal
The Olympics and Paralympics put on by Vancouver and Whistler were fantastic!
However, it would not have happened without the commitment and the dedication of the volunteers and we would first like to highlight the volunteers that worked on our ski hills preparing the race courses for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
What an amazing job they all did! Despite fog, too much snow etc., they soldiered on. We heard stories of them being up there at 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m., packing, shoveling, setting, slipping to get things ready - only to have things delayed or cancelled due to poor weather conditions, but still they carried on until all the events were run successfully. A very impressive job indeed!
We would be remiss if we did not also congratulate the course preparation volunteers at Cypress in this regard. What a brutal task in brutal conditions! Another fantastic job done!
I worked as a volunteer Team Leader at the Whistler Sliding Centre for most of the days of the Olympics and although I did make my contribution it felt somewhat small compared with many of the other volunteers. I was very impressed with all the volunteers but especially the "Club 99" volunteers. Some I met were having to get up at 5 a.m. every day so that they could catch a bus from their homes to the Olympic bus for the trip up to Whistler to begin their duties - often working all day in the cold, snow or rain and always with a "Can Do" attitude. Many of these volunteers would be working until late in the day or evening where they would then have to travel back to Vancouver, arriving home late and going to bed to grab a little sleep in order repeat the process all over again.
We were also very impressed with the number of volunteers we met who traveled to Whistler from cities and towns right across Canada, the USA and overseas - all this to help out and enjoy the Olympic experience. Many of these people paid for their own transportation and accommodation and many took vacation time out from work to be an Olympic volunteer.
Yes, we think these and all the volunteers deserve a medal!
It was certainly heartwarming to hear visitors commenting on how friendly and helpful all the volunteers were.
One day during the Paralympics I had the opportunity to work in line control at Creekside to offer assistance to both guests and some of the Paralympians. Some of these athletes took the opportunity to tell me how impressed they were with the volunteers, staff, mountain operations, the overall organization and the spectators. Many of them stated that they couldn't get over the crowds that came out to see the events and that they had to get used to the cheering!
As Park City's Bill Malone stated, "You will never be the same after you've seen the Paralympics." And Bob Barnett stated, "And so we are - transformed - wiser, humbler, inspired." Truer words were never spoken!
As the International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven stated during his speech at the closing ceremonies, "The best Paralympics ever."
Did my family and I feel proud for all of us Canadians? You betcha!
Roger and Rosemary Verrall
Giving thanks for Erin
We have been fortunate enough to live in this community for several years, and this week has really reminded us how lucky we are to have this amazing family we call Whistler. Sunday, April 4, the mountains we all love claimed one more of us in a snowboarding accident. Our roommate and best friend, Erin Solowey-Wanamaker, one of the greatest people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
The support of the Whistler and Pemberton communities throughout this time has been overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who came by our house this week with kind words, hugs, stories, food, beer...
Thank you to Whistler Ski Patrol for everything you did for Erin that day, and for the ongoing support and communication with his friends and family this week.
Thank you to Dusty's for hosting the celebration of Erin's life on Friday night... sorry we drank you out of beer and left a bit of a mess. It was an epic send off, Erin would be proud.
Thank you to Whistler Creek Productions for making things happen for the celebration of a life well lived, organizing the slide show and printing T-shirts.
Thank you to Stu Andrews of WCP for being the best emcee you could ask for... the "moment of chaos 'cause Erin would not want a moment of silence" was incredible, with the bar packed wall-to-wall and hundreds of people screaming and cheering.
Thank you to Whistler Blackcomb for donating lift tickets to the people without passes in the 200-person shred posse who went up Whistler on Friday to slash some pow in memory of our good friend.
The donations of time, product, and gift certificates were of such overwhelming generosity that it would be impossible to list everyone here.
The raffle and give-aways were a huge success and all of the money raised went to Erin's family to help with costs associated with this tragedy.
Thank you to everyone who: organized and worked the raffle and silent auction tables, made shirts, hats, stickers, buttons etc., offered their talents to DJ and play music, got everyone to sign their rally truck, drove from Mexico with 24 litres of tequila in the water reservoir of a camper, flew in from Singapore, Australia, Hawaii, Toronto, Manitoba, Calgary and anywhere else to be here. And thanks to everyone who came out on Friday... the amount of crazy, good energy and love you could feel in the room was proof that Erin's spirit will live on and really showed how many people's lives he touched.
Thank you to Erin's amazing family, Dennis, Susan and Lucas, for having such an awesome son and brother. We wish it didn't have to be under these circumstances, but it was a pleasure getting to know you.
Thank you to all the Daggers and everyone who shredded with Erin this year... he said last week that he would not be able to top the amount of fun he was having on the mountain this season. The last words he wrote on his Facebook page say it all: "yet another rad day on the shred... life's good, and simple."
Thank you Erin, for reminding us to live life, stay wild and make the most of every moment we have, because one day we will all be gone from this world and right now is all we have. Thanks for everything, miss you tons, till we meet again my friend...
The workers' struggle
Ah, the spring season is about to start again in this little mountain town. Time for some to leave and more to arrive for the summer, getting a job, perhaps word of a summer bonus, finding a place to live for what you think will be the best summer yet.
The big problem underneath all of this is the awful working and living situations most of us will have to deal with, and some awful employers who need to be held more directly responsible when dealing with their employees. Us somewhat transient, foreign, but usually ending up long-term workers are the very grease in the wheels in this town, and the way we are treated is a direct slap in the face to the spirit of our youth.
I can't count the number of hard-working people I know that have been oh-so-conveniently fired from jobs and evicted from staff accommodation for things that in the real world would just require a written warning. And there must be three such written warnings from an employer to an employee before any firing can legally take place, according to the B.C. Employment Standards Act. How is it possible that the average workplace in this town has degraded to slightly better situations than a third world country would have? As a whole, most of us are paid just above minimum wage, offered illegal staff accommodation (basements with no windows, houses with no heating or vents, six people to a room in bunk beds, etc.), charged extraordinarily high prices for rent (where on earth is it acceptable to pay $750 for a shared room that's certainly no mansion?) and have to pay for groceries and bills in a town where it costs $3 for a loaf of bread! It's no wonder you may have some disgruntled, not so eager to work employees, who have to get a second job just to survive, never mind save money to go back to school or maybe perhaps leave! But you still can't fire them for nothing because you don't think you can keep paying them.
This town would be nothing, and I repeat, nothing, if we were not here to hold the entire inner workings up and functioning. Can you imagine if 500 of us, the servers, receptionists, cooks, retail associates, cashiers, housekeepers walked out on the job at this moment, or even worse, in the height of summer? Whistler would collapse, and then what would you do? Does it really have to get to that before some business owners snap out of it and realize just how important we are, and that we deserve better?
There is also this degrading attitude that we are a dime a dozen and easily replaceable. But no matter who we are replaced with we all want the same things; a decent job and an employer that we know can support us in every way.
I know I am not alone on this, we are all together and fighting, I'm just letting out what has to be said. We work hard at what we do and are loyal and reliable, and still we end up struggling for what's right and legal.
For those few employers that do treat us well, that not only pay the bonuses but give us raises, that have decent housing for us, that praise us on a job well done, that have staff or local discounts, that give us the much-needed understanding and treasure our presence and assistance, I commend you and your efforts from the bottom of my heart.
For those other owners and employers that don't blink an eye at our disgusting living and working situation that you've caused, what is your pathetic excuse for the way you treat us?
I notice the sign over the River of Golden Dreams has been changed to Golden Dreams River. This change rings flat. Let's spend a small portion of the $96,000 party money to change it back to the River of Golden Dreams.
Godsmacked in Emerald
I was walking around Emerald with my can hook and spotter/bag lady when I was "Godsmacked." The can hook is a golf ball retriever I never had to use anyway. I uncoiled the wire cup and put a hook on the end so that I can pick beer cans out of the ditch and bushes without leaving the road. Mom helps spot the cans and holds the bag. I have just recently become a hooker when I realized all this money laying beside the road will help cushion the coming hit on my bank account by our increased taxes.
On this occasion being "Godsmacked" was suddenly having an idea that is so extraordinary it was as if God smacked the side of my head with a fresh wild Pacific salmon, if there are any. My idea was so brilliant I even thought I should run for mayor until I regained my senses a split second later. During our walk it occurred to me that our muni should charge a deposit on dog shit. No, wait! This is a deadly serious win, win, win plan, the kind politicians love, the first one in years that will bring in cash.
When a dog owner buys a licence for their dog they are also charged $365, one for each daily dump for the year. One of their dog's dumps is weighed and a DNA sample is taken to catch cheaters. If the dog's dump is a pounder for example, the owner would need to take 365 pounds of their dog's shit to the composter at the transfer station to get a refund of their deposit.
Here are the win, win, wins. The muni invests the deposits, sells the compost and uses the money to get us out of "deep shit." Picking up the dog shit would save our environment from dogs like we saved a small part of it from ourselves a hundred or so years ago when we began thinking it is a good idea to remove human waste from ditches. My guess is dog owners who now leave their dog's shit beside the road will leave it there no matter what it costs them so cleaning it up would create a couple full time jobs. Just in Emerald there are thousands of dollars worth of dog shit waiting to be picked up. I'd consider the job myself but Mom wouldn't hold the bag.
Reliving the mountains
Amidst all the wonderful Olympic activities of this past month, I had what was for me the greatest of all - the Sno Limo! At 74, with an artificial hip, an artificial knee and a fused spine, my opportunity to "ski" the mountains is long past. But, I am now telling friends that I "mastered" Whistler, thanks to the amazing Sno Limo. And I look forward to doing it again next year!
I cannot say enough about the young Australian man who steered me from the peak to the valley. He is a credit to Whistler, to the Sno Limo idea and to Canada. He was constantly concerned about my comfort and safety.
I was in awe to see the beauty of the mountains. This is a treat I'm sure more people would love to experience. The mountains are impressive in summer but to see and be a part of them in winter is spectacular. And to descend with my family in tow - what a thrill!
Thank you for providing such a great feature. I trust many more former skiers will also have this opportunity to renew old dreams.