Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor for the week of August 24th


Whistler closed for the day

What idiots thought it a good idea to have two paving events, north and south of the village, on Highway 99 on the same day? I bet the municipality was not in the loop on this because highways are a provincial matter. If we don't have a liaison officer from the municipality to the province, today (Tuesday, Aug. 22) is a blatant reason why we should. By having these two events at the same time, the powers-that-be have effectively made the possible detour route of Alta Lake Road ineffective. If the paving contractors could have focused their attention on one section, finished it, then moved onto the next, the detour route for north and southbound traffic could have kept moving. Those souls using public transit were just as waylaid. Anyone who had appointments to keep... missed!  People or things to pickup? Not possible in a timely fashion!  Tourists coming to or passing through? Not likely! Anything going anywhere other than on a bicycle or on foot? Stalled! 

Emergency vehicles and response times? Sorry for the delay folks... just bad luck — try telling that to those in need!

Oh yeah, and Whistler's policy of no idling of vehicle engines... what a joke!  Could not have planned a better "Motor Idling Fest" if you tried. 

Why does it always seem that bureaucracy has no common sense? Please would someone knock some heads together and get this sorted out?  I gave up working today because I could not get my supplies from Function without a huge delay. How can I explain to my customers that they had to pay me three hours for pick-up locally?

If the contractors were fined for stupidity, you'd see just how fast things would change. I should send a bill to the Ministry of Transportation for my lost wages as I think everyone else in town should do... Ha — like that would fly! But if they received a flood of angry correspondence they might get the message: SMARTEN UP! 

I know these things have to be done and I commend them for doing it. Just don't be so stupid as to plan a perfect storm of congestion!  Think!

We really need to start planning some alternate routes and start linking up some roadways so there is at least one other north/south means of transport through the valley. GranFondo, Ironman, maintenance issues, the sheer volume of traffic due to our success of creating a "desirable place to be" — all these events must force this issue to be dealt with soon! 

I now have a saying for Whistler after living here for many years: "Whistler can only get bigger — it can't get any better!" 

I hope this is not a truism.

Keith Auchinachie

**Editor's Note: See related story on Page 14.

Time for 'official' rope swings?

I've owned a place up at Whistler for over 20 years and my three children have grown up enjoying all that Whistler has to offer. One of the activities my kids have particularly enjoyed is rope swinging.

Rope swinging in Canada has a long history, as the country has many lakes with great trees overhanging the water.  Rope swinging can provide hours of entertainment.  We have enjoyed rope swinging in Banff and Ontario as well.  While there is the potential for injury (like in any sport, i.e. mountain biking), it is usually done safely and provides for a lot of enjoyment.

Whistler has many fine lakes with opportunities for rope swings. The swings have usually been put up by locals who have picked a good spot and set up some rope on a sturdy tree branch. For the most part, the swings are used safely.  A couple years ago the Resort Municipality of Whistler started removing rope swings due to concerns about the safety of the ropes and the potential for injury.

Quite often, another rope swing is rigged up after the previous one has been cut down. These rope swings are usually more precarious than the original, as the best and safest tree limb has usually been cut away by the muni. This increases the likelihood of a potential mishap.

As a parent, I recognize there is risk to rope swinging. I equate it to the risks involved with many of the bike ladders on our mountain-bike trails. If these bike ladders have no defects, they should be safe as long as the rider's skill level enables them to ride carefully over the ladder.

On Friday, Aug. 11, I took my 14-year-old son up to one of the Whistler lakes that has a rope swing. The rope swing had broken last summer, and we hoped that it might have been put back up.  When we got to the lake, we saw that it was in use. 

My son examined the rope and the handle, deemed it safe, and proceeded to have two turns on it. He was next in line to do it again, right after a girl was going to try it for her first time. I stood at the bottom of the rope swing, hoping to film my son as he came down again.

Unfortunately, a terrible accident occurred as the girl pushed off the rope-swing platform. As she accelerated down the steep slope holding onto the rope, the handle broke. The girl landed elbows and face first onto the rock and slid about 15 feet into the water. Her injuries were extensive. Though hospital records will reveal the true extent of her injuries, it appeared that she had separated her shoulder, broke both elbows and/or arms, broke several ribs, and sustained severe lacerations to the face and knees.

I called 911, and because of the remoteness of the lake, it took 50 minutes for the emergency crew to arrive. It appeared the girl would have to be airlifted out by helicopter.

My son and I were both very distraught over what happened. Our thoughts are very much with the girl and we hope she has a full recovery. My son, who considers himself a "rope-swing expert," was also mad at himself for not recognizing that the rope and handle were unsafe.  He recognizes how easily the girl's injuries could have been avoided.

The muni can continue to battle these unsanctioned rope swings, with the potential for mishap remaining increasingly high.  Or the muni can take another approach and look to take advantage of the opportunity to safely install rope swings themselves. Whistler has many fine lakes for rope swings and when safely set up and monitored, they will just add to all the other activities Whistler has to offer. Like many other outdoor activities, there is always a risk of injury, but why not reduce the risk by ensuring the safety of the rope swing? Legal consultation would likely be required to avoid liability issues.

Whistler can already offer world-class skiing, mountain biking and hiking. Why not become the rope-swing capital of Canada?

Anthony Werry

True leadership needed now more than ever

Many moons ago now, Whistler Blackcomb severed their advertising relationship with The Rebel Media as a deliberately political act. This is unconventional for any corporation, but fitting in unique circumstances and it's clear they are on the right side of history and well ahead of the pack if last week's events show anything. It is hard to imagine how anyone can be anything but appreciative of their action, but let's not get too congratulatory.

Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer and company only took this long to back away from The Rebel because, until recently, the risks in doing so were so great and their moral courage so lacking. Comparatively, there was no risk to Whistler Blackcomb, and a skeptic might say it was as risk-free as most any act of corporate greenwashing.

Unusual times call for unconventional actions, even from corporations, if we are expected to consider them as community leaders. The current brinksmanship in the U.S. towards a second Civil War is putting some focus on corporate America and its willingness to lead in regards to racism, all at considerable risk to its brand. It is gratifying, and perhaps eventually profitable, to see U.S. President Donald Trump's business committees imploding as business leaders take moral stands against him. Perhaps there is something that even Canadian corporate leaders can do?

Well guess what — there is! Similar to the Conservative Party of Canada's courtship of The Rebel Media, Whistler Blackcomb's American corporate overlords, also flirted with, encouraged, facilitated and actually financed the Republican Trump Train in the U.S.

Bizarre, yes, and not entirely Whistler Blackcomb's fault, but considering their professed concern for climate change there is no doubt about it — Vail Holdings is complicit in placing the Republican climate-change denial machine in power. How this gross error in moral judgment has gone on uncorrected for so long — or unchallenged by the vast majority of their skiing clientele — is beyond me, but there is no time like the present.

As Andrew Scheer has shown, even the sleaziest rat can abandon a sinking ship, but better yet is leading the pack. I suggest that now is the time that corporate mountain culture in Canada lights a fire under the ass of corporate mountain culture USA with the intent to join them in deliberately, unambiguously, publicly and loudly sending a clear political message that mountain culture in North America will no longer finance the Republican party, for obvious reasons.

Whistler Blackcomb could also state that Canada, the U.S. and Mexico need to implement a progressive carbon tax continent-wide. There is a lot they could advocate for in terms of public policy because they know better than most that that is where real climate action will occur. Unlike their political actions to date on either climate or racism, this will certainly require risk-taking on Whistler Blackcomb's part, but considering their near monopoly in the market, perhaps not to the extreme. Installing a hydro power plant is low risk. Fuelling snowcats with biodiesel is low risk. Producing videos of pro athletes wringing their hands about climate is low risk. This is not leadership.

If leadership is indicated by one single thing, it is a willingness to take smart risks at critical times for something greater than oneself. I look forward to Whistler Blackcomb and eventually Vail showing true leadership very soon in something they have long claimed leadership in.

Bruce Kay

**Editor's note: Last year, Vail Resorts was named in a Powder Magazine article detailing American ski industry leaders' contributions to noted Republican climate-change deniers. In response, Vail said it "believes in openly discussing and working with elected officials of both parties, who agree and disagree with us on issues, and we do not shy away from raising important topics with them, including advocating for taking action on climate change." Read more at www.piquenewsmagazine.com/whistler/why-is-vail-playing-both-sides-on-climate-change/Content?oid=2872992.

Protect Howe Sound event planned for Saturday, Aug. 26

As you may or may not know, the LNG plant in Squamish has been given the green light. Construction has started on the liquefied natural gas plant at the old Woodfibre pulp mill site five kilometres from Downtown Squamish. We will be living with this industry in the Howe Sound for an estimated 40 years.

If you think this is a sad waste of this beautiful land and waters, you can join My Sea To Sky, Patagonia, Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative, Skwomesh Action, and Backbone Campaign at the Protect Howe Sound flotilla on Saturday, Aug. 26. You need to be an early bird, as its starts at 8 a.m. The launch is at Stawamus Waterfront, 1221 Chief Billy Dr.

If an 8 a.m. launch is too early for you but you still want to support the campaign to stop this project, join the above mentioned groups later in the day at 6 p.m. in Junction Park, Squamish, for movies, beer and tacos — all ages all welcome. Full details are at www.myseatosky.org.

If you love Howe Sound and this great land we are lucky to call home, please come out and show your support for a different future that doesn't involve tankers, pipelines and fracking.

Angela Mellor