Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor for the week of May 28th

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Please protect our wildlife

I grew up in Whistler, and living here grew a respect for this town, for the people and the environment.

Today, I went to Alpha Lake and witnessed something I wish I hadn't. A woman came to the lake with her children and her dog. Her dog went swimming, as most canines do at the lakes.

Unfortunately, this time this dog decided to go after a duck and her six ducklings. Many people, myself included, watched in horror after her dog went after the duck and her ducklings. The mother duck turned around and tried to protect her ducklings from the dog.

The yellow Labrador turned his attention to the mother and went after it snapping, attacking the duck.

The other people at the beach ran trying to find the owner and stop the horrible event.

Once the crowd found the owner of the dog, she told the crowd it was a dog beach and pets were legally allowed to do what they wanted.

I am asking the tourists and locals of Whistler to respect the wildlife.

Jessica Solly


Giant success

The Giant Used Book Sale, put on by the Friends of the Whistler Library, was a great success as usual, pulling in hundreds of enthusiastic readers who perused and bought armloads of books. The total raised was $4,147, which will go towards library needs.

Huge thanks go out to the IGA for allowing us to hold the sale in front of the store, the best place to avoid those thundershowers. Thanks also to TD Canada Trust and Nesters for being collection depots.

Volunteers ran the show, sorting, transporting, and staffing the sale. Thank you to them all: Moe Richmond, Maureen Chaddock, Jessie Pendygrasse, Susan Annand, Ophra Buckman, Leslie Alexander, Janet Laird, Simone Crichton, Kris Shoup, Ginny Ladner, Betty Vogler, and the guys, John Richmond, Bill Janyk, Garry and Thomas Clifford, Micheal Daugulis, and Rick Reid.

Lastly, thank you to all the Whistlerites who generously donated thousands of books to be loved once again, and all those who came and bought their summer reading.

Jane Reid


Behind the mask

On May 20, close to 200 people attended a screening of The Mask You Live in by the Representation Project. The movie is a provocative documentary that asks communities to think about, and work on, a redefinition of what it means to "be a man."

The Mask You Live In maintains that many gender traits are a social construct and that the images of men that boys receive at home and from television, films, sports and video games encourages them to be stoic, dominant and to resolve conflicts with violence.

We were very fortunate to add context to this amazing night by having CFL all star and founder of The Wellmen Project, Shea Emry, share his story and take questions along with local counselling therapist Greg McDonnell. Kirby Brown facilitated the evening.

Freeman AV was indispensible in helping with the tech side of the night, as was Whistler Secondary Student (WSS) Liam McDonald. Our thanks also go out to Jules Hudson and WSS, which sponsored the night along with Ki Communications, Local Automotive, and the Pique and the Question newspapers.

Without the great support we got from the community, and those who took part, the evening would not have been the amazing success it was. Thank you all so much.

Raising healthy boys, healthy kids, is all of our responsibility and this documentary was a reminder that we can create change to help our kids become great citizens.

Clare Ogilvie and Sonya Hwang, co-organizers


Apathetic voter a choice

After reading Max's column (Pique, May 21) I looked up "apathetic" in the dictionary to see if there was a derivative noun, "apathete" perhaps?

There wasn't, but the phrase used to illustrate its meaning, "apathetic slackers who don't vote," I thought was appropriate given Max's apparent changing heart.

I found his possible conversion comforting because I've been a democratic "apathete" for years, and now I may have company.

Not voting doesn't mean I am apathetic. In the same dictionary, "politics" is defined as: "... conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power," and years ago I just decided I didn't want to contribute to the conflict anymore.

Conflict between individuals is destroying societies, and conflict between societies is destroying humanity.

Now I am thinking more often that I've been a fool to care if we don't self-destruct, but it is still less often that I think we should care. So on this coming election night I, and maybe Max, will be voting for unity.

Doug Barr


Reading makes strong editors

Whistler is raising amazing young readers.

It's not the kind of accolade you'd find in Conde Nast Traveler. Nor is it the type of achievement resulting in a gold medal or the naming of a local street. But young readers are truly an achievement and something to celebrate.

I was fortunate to be introduced to three Whistler students Roshan Beavan, Ajah Newsome, and Jaden Legate, who all share a spirited passion for reading. The 11- to 12-year-old girls and boy volunteered their time and talents to critique a middle-grade novel I wrote, which is no small undertaking at 300 pages. I was amazed by the maturity of their insights not to mention their knowledge of fiction. I would have expected questions such as, "How is the subplot contributing to the main character's goal?" to come from a seasoned writer, not a middle-grade youth.

So thank you Roshan, Jaden and Ajah. My book will definitely shine brightly because of your contributions.

And thank you to all of those people who helped put books in these students' hands: the parents, caregivers, teachers, and librarians. Reading aloud Dr. Seuss's Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? a million times over was not in vain.

A lifelong passion for reading has clearly been fostered here, and subsequently so too have creative and analytical skills — something our world desperately needs.

As society's challenges become greater and more complex, the demand for more out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving is paramount.

Nicole Fitzgerald


More input needed on Pemby issue

After attending the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's May 21 consultation on Commercial Assembly Uses & Events in the SLRD, the Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Pemberton have developed plan they have recommended to the SLRD moving forward.

This is a critically important issue for our members as the proposed "temporary use" permitting process includes weddings, a growing industry with excellent economic and tourism potential for the Pemberton Valley.

We believe a simple three-step action plan will help achieve a satisfactory outcome for both those holding special events and those who are negatively impacted by noise, parking issues and other identified concerns:

Include the Chamber's "Wedding Tourism Economic Impact Study" in the discussion and decision-making. This process began mid-April when we sent out a RFP seeking a qualified consultant. We ask that the SLRD not make any decisions or recommendations until this report is ready for presentation by the second week of July.

Convene a "Commercial Assembly Uses & Events Strategy Task Force." Ideally this task force would consist of SLRD staff member, Area C Director, Village of Pemberton representative, Chamber of Commerce representative, Tourism Pemberton representative, farm representative who hosts events, farm representative who is experiencing negative impacts, event industry representative, wedding-specific industry representative and community member-at-large.

Have the task force work together to develop and recommend a realistic framework for farms and other venues wishing to host commercial events, including recommending regulations, enforcement options and funding sources to pay for incremental staffing resources that may be required.

We are aware that weddings and other commercial events are held on agricultural land throughout the province — from Pemberton farms to Okanagan vineyards. We believe that current provincial regulations, as determined by the ALC more than 40 years ago, needs to be amended as they do not recognize current realities. Farm use diversification has become necessary for the continued viability of agriculture in the Pemberton Valley.

This is a critically urgent issue. The Pemberton Valley has an opportunity to legitimize, regulate and leverage the rapidly growing destination wedding industry — an economic driver that didn't exist four decades ago when the ALC regulations were established.

We ask that the SLRD work collaboratively and cooperatively with community stakeholders to create a positive outcome on this issue. We believe this is both possible and necessary to achieve economic growth and reliability for the Pemberton Valley. We are committed to creating business solutions that serve everyone in our community.

Garth Phare, president Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce

David Mackenzie, president Tourism Pemberton

(see related story on page 28)

Community steps up for Nepal

We would like to say a massive thank you to Nesters, which always goes above and beyond to help so many, and to all who donated to Whistler Secondary School Grade 12 student Luken' Lakes fundraiser for Nepal on Sunday, May 24.

So many donated and made us realize again what an amazing community we have.

Thank you to all the amazing people in Whistler, and know that the government has doubled the money raised that will go directly to help many Nepalese people. This fundraiser took in $420. The students are still considering what charity to use.

Thank you!

Iona Lake


Ban on containers not the answer

I just wanted to make a few comments regarding the proposed ban on shipping containers in residential yards.

I'll be the first to admit that if you just plunk a shipping container down in your yard, especially one that's been riding around on a container ship on the open sea for 20 years, it's pretty unsightly, so there needs to be some kind of way to maintain a standard.

However, there are a lot of containers in neighbourhoods in Whistler that are tucked away and out of sight, so a total ban on containers to deal with the bad apples is somewhat of an over kill, especially with the already extensive design and density bylaws already in place.

The idea that they are a fire danger seems a little strained. The larger container ships hold nearly 20,000 units, and I've never heard of one of those going up in flames. There was major fire at the Vancouver docks earlier this year when a container packed with flammable chemicals caught fire, and that didn't cause an explosion or rupture.

I picked up a container to replace the old wooden shed in my yard after we had a major fire in 2008 that burned the roof right off our house. The wooden shed (which came as a commercial kit from) was made of untreated cedar shingles and pine slats, and would have burned like one of those exploding school-house fireworks if the fire had spread to it.

The solid steel container seemed like a very safe alternative after that experience.

Considering the number of locals in town who have expensive bikes and snowmobiles to lock up, I would think that's a common reason why there are so many appearing in town lately.

There is an incredibly eclectic collection of strange things parked in Whistler yards.

I've seen fences made of old skis, snowmobiles, couches, old dirt bikes, beat up travel trailers, and all manner of obsolete chairlifts and gondolas. I know of three vehicles in my Emerald neighbourhood that literally haven't moved in the 18 years I've lived here. If we start banning one thing on aesthetic grounds, where is it going to end?

I would suggest some design guidelines be enacted, such as requiring the containers to be limited to the 20-ft size, that only one would be allowed on a lot, that they be installed on a level pad, and that they be painted and clad in wood siding or a trellis.

If the ban goes through, I'll probably end up building a plywood shed on the same footprint, and I don't think that would be much of an improvement over the container.

David Buzzard


On the right track

I actually spent the better part of my time in village this year (for the May long weekend).

My wife had a team in the Great Snow, Earth, Water Race, we hosted a 40th birthday party at a local restaurant, we went to watch the free music on three out of the four days, and we had friends from out of town staying in one of the hotels.

Generally speaking, the village was packed with families and people that came to Whistler for all the right reasons. And while there was a sketchy element in and around the village during the day and into the evening, it really wasn't as noticeable as in the past.

The police presence no doubt helped, as did the fact that the usual thugs were hugely outnumbered by vacationers this time around.

However, it was frustrating to see that some hotels and property owners were still renting to teens — possibly through ignorant parents who rented those rooms on their behalf as a reward for graduating high school. The weapons came out like they do every year, this time with senseless, tragic consequences. One life is over and four more could be destroyed for no good reason I can see.

There is no shortage of good ideas how to try to prevent something like this happening again next year, and to that end I hope we don't give up on trying to rehabilitate the long weekend. The things we're doing really are working — just not fast enough to prevent another tragedy, and another black eye for Whistler's reputation.

Rather than try to put this year's violence into context, as an isolated incident in a year with fewer calls than in the past, I'd rather we embraced it.

With the permission of Luka Gordic's family, we should tell everyone the story of what happened to their son, and who was responsible.

I want every parent in the Lower Mainland to read that story, and to consider what could happen to their children, if they rent them a room in the resort and leave them unsupervised.

I also want every wannabe thug with a knife tucked in his jeans to know what happened to the suspects in this case, and all the ways that their lives were also impacted — again, for no good reason.

And while it was nice to see the police out in numbers, I think it's time to create a local command centre for the weekend, complete with signs posted around the village asking people to report intimidating and suspicious behavior by dialing a certain number (e.g. #555), on their cell phones.

People won't call 911 unless it's an emergency (I wasn't going to bug e-Comm and tie up 911 to report a teenager walking around and drinking from a bottle in a paper bag, for example), but people might call a local command centre to report things like teens intimidating families on the stroll, public drinking, or even a group of kids trying to provoke others into fighting.

It would also help the police respond faster, especially if each sign had a unique number that people could provide police with their exact location.

Maybe it's also time to add cameras to the village hotspots where these incidents seem to happen. It's intrusive and a little creepy, but cameras have made all the difference in the world in England and other jurisdictions where public cameras are now the norm.

We've come a long way when it comes to rehabilitating the May long weekend, displacing the rowdies and making the village safe for everyone.

But it's also clear that we still have a long way to go.

Andrew Mitchell