Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for the week of April 23rd

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WSSF rocks Whistler

On behalf of everyone at Whistler Blackcomb, I would like to pass along a whole-hearted thank you and congratulations to Sue Eckersley and the entire team at Watermark Communications for putting on an incredible World Ski and Snowboard Festival once again.

For 10 days and nights the village and mountains were buzzing with energy and excitement.

We had the top athletes in the world here to compete at the World Skiing Invitational/AFP World Tour Finals and the Monster Energy Shred Show. We saw incredible talent at the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown, 72 Hour filmmakers Showdown, and Intersection presented by Bromley Baseboards and we had ten days of free concerts on the Main Stage in Skier's Plaza.

Despite not being able to hold the big air at the base of Whistler Mountain like usual, Skier's Plaza was still packed on each of the Saturday nights – first for Gibbons Plazapalooza and then again for the Monster Energy freeride motocross demonstration, which was fantastic!

WSSF really is about bringing the Whistler community together and the Watermark team succeeds at this every year. So congratulations on another job well done, team, and thank you again for an incredible 20 years.

Dave Brownlie

President and CEO Whistler Blackcomb

Poor ninja skills

The Pique — the trusty local paper, located on every corner. For as long as I can remember, the town's people just love it when the new Pique comes out. Some people read it cover to cover, some head right for "Letters to the Editor," or the classifieds, weekly events, sports, and arts etc.

But for me, my favourite section is the weekly briefing from the RCMP. Nothing is more entertaining than reading what the dummies got up to this week.

However, I started to note a trend a few months ago. And the fact that it has continued nearly every week is incredible. Are people not reading the Pique as much as they used to? Or are they merely skipping over my favourite section?

The reason I wonder, is because I cannot believe that every week there is at least one arrest (that makes the paper) when some dummy has decided to do cocaine outside somewhere and the cops have busted them. Surely by now, if you had read the paper, you would have realized it's a jungle out there, and the cops are poaching, man.

Cocaine is the dumbest drug. And I say this because everyone who does it turns from logical to dumb. When one partakes, they all of a sudden think they are a ninja, clouded in an invisibility cloak. Your hiding spot is the most obvious to anyone not on coke.

Trust me — instead of a ninja, you are in fact an elephant riding a tricycle with firecrackers in the spokes. Everyone knows you're f#@%&* up. You are not a stealth ninja, you are blindingly high.

The toilet stall, which is the favourite location, has become a bit more tricky, some bars have attendants in the loo, so it seems people have been taking to the streets, bushes and underground parking lots to get their fix. But the thing with coke is that it isn't a take-it-once-you're-done type of indulgence. It's a constant one. So it becomes an odds game, and you're gonna get murked.

I know this letter isn't going to halt the cocaine plague of Whistler, but try to be sneakier. I mean, I love reading about you in the paper, but maybe leave some space for a different type of dummy. We're bored of this foolishness.

J. Drummond


Whistler should be eco-resort

In response to (Pique's cover feature April 16) "Survival of the Fittest," I understand the importance for resorts to become sustainable in a changing world to ensure long-term success.

The article speaks of attracting "destination" visitors from wider and international locations who come to Whistler for longer, more expensive trips. This is obviously important for business, but also has detrimental effects too.

Firstly, attracting big crowds and non-skier tourists can lessen the charm and wildness that attract so many here in the first place. Also, this encourages people to travel further, which is not sustainable and increases the environmental footprint of Whistler.

This is a feedback that will decrease the attractive image of Whistler and in the long-term exacerbate climate change, leading to less snow and fewer visitors. The snowpack is down 13 per cent and ski visitors are also down an estimated 10-15 per cent for the season — seems like a pretty strong correlation.

The article notes that only innovative ski resorts will survive. Also highlighted was the need to attract "millenials," the young generation that create an image of Whistler from social media, films and events.

So my thoughts would be to create the idea of Whistler as an eco-resort. We have a unique and powerful position to change how visitors impact the environment; can we not make changes in the community, like a plastic bag-free town?

That would not only help ensure Whistler continues to grow sustainably into the future, but would also create a very attractive image for people to keep coming here from around the world.

Sarah Hopwood


Whistler artists step up to keep the festival vibrant

Thanks to Watermark for inviting local groups into the World Ski and Snowboard Festival this year.

Our inclusion showcased an incredible level of trust from the festival team.  We were all treated with great hospitality, and the Watermark team expressed their gratitude many times.  

There were budget issues this year. The local musicians stepped up and volunteered their bands to ensure we'd have some fun entertainment all week.

As I awaited my set with "The Sociables Variety Act," I found myself engaged in a conversation with the volunteer stage crew who were seemingly disgruntled.  Their main sentiment was that the community is always asked to offer their time for free when there's no budget, but when the budgets return everything gets outsourced and the local teams don't get paid.

Earlier in the week I found myself in another conversation with a long-time local musician who candidly asked me, "Are you guys getting paid for the stage show?" None of us received monetary compensation — there wasn't a budget, we were told. This turned into a longer conversation about setting a precedent with what we will work for, and what we consider fair compensation. 

Steven Vogler came up in that conversation. A simple statement of, "How come Steven at The Point (an artist run centre) can find a way to pay the artists he hires for their efforts, at a facility that operates on donations, ticket sales and the occasional grants, yet larger entities seemingly can't find a few bucks to honour the efforts of local artist?"

It was a good question, and I think the only answer on that is when artists are empowered to hire artists; they take care of each other because they know how hard it can be to find proper compensation. 

I don't do shows just for the money. I tried when the venues asked me to become a cover band, but the reality is that I can't set aside my soul's journey for money.

I can't be someone else, and it makes me feel worthless when I'm asked and told I'd be paid to do it. For me, this isn't just a career, it's my life. I can't walk away from who I am. Music is how I interpret my world and without it I'm lost. 

I do music every day, whether I'm on a stage or not, and it's not because of hyped up ideas of what's cool. It's because it's as much a part of me as the blood in my veins. I am who I am, I have the skill set I have, and I convey music the way I do. No dollar amount can change that, because it's about self respect when it's all said and done.  

The idea came up that local musicians shouldn't play any venue that doesn't respect our efforts. We certainly shouldn't be offering our support to a town that isn't grateful for the efforts. This being said, many of us got on the big stage, volunteering our time, including the musician I chatted with earlier in the week. 

The reason? We love Whistler, we wanted to help out, and sometimes experiences are just as valuable as getting paid, well rarely, but there are times when it's OK.

This time it was OK, and part of this also relates to the kind folks at Watermark who expressed their gratitude and stated many times that their hands were tied and they wished they could offer us so much more.

They were very genuine and I hope this doesn't get misconstrued to appear as if they weren't. I am, personally, eternally grateful for their support in putting me on that stage two years in a row. This really isn't about them. 

There were comments going around that our willingness to offer our support means we set a precedent that will have us offering to events, for free, forever. We all have bills to pay and too often we are told, "It'll be good exposure."

It's never good exposure unless you are playing to a demographic that is keen on your product, and the audience is filled with industry people. "Exposure" is a myth used to take advantage of those who are eager to entertain others. That's how venues undervalue us too, because they can always find someone new on the scene to do it cheaper, or someone really eager to do it for free. 

I prefer to have a brighter sense of the future, but considering how I've been treated in Whistler the last couple years, I can't say the stage crew are completely out to lunch for questioning this.

The venues take advantage of local musicians, all the time. We are underpaid, undervalued and expected to offer a similar model of what's existed for decades or not expect any gigs, ever. Oh, and don't speak your mind, cause they hate that.  

I might find myself blacklisted for speaking my mind. It has happened to me a few times in Whistler, simply drawing a line in the sand of what I find acceptable. Apparently I can't have standards, but a venue can?

A place where the sole purpose is to get people drunk has the audacity to tell a musician they don't matter.

Musicians have changed the world. Can't say any venue ever did this, or was anything much without entertainment to enrich it. Not like a musician even needs a venue to be a musician. I can walk through the village with my banjo guitar and connect with people and not be marginalized for it. In fact, when I do this, I am embraced, I become an ambassador, I share in smiles, give directions and laugh with so many visitors and members of our community. This is far more enriching, and if that bylaw ever changed, I could make a living as a street entertainer and actually do some good, honest, genuine work with music. 

Like the musicians of the past, we are the storytellers that pass along our history through instruments, with lyrics, and by continuing to interpret the world through a medium that has no boundaries.

The fact that we exist isn't something to scoff at. Too much blood has been shed through history for this part of our humanity to exist freely. If we want to claim we are a community that is a hub devoted to the arts, then we need to devote ourselves to it, fairly and with open hearts, open ears and open eyes.

The musicians are devoted, but we need more. We need to know that we won't be overlooked when this town is flush, and there are budgets to honour efforts because we are always here for Whistler when the community asks us to give ourselves freely. 

Watermark believed in us enough to open the stage up for locals. Now that we have proven there's a lot of talent to offer, maybe the community of Whistler can find more ways to support the local, artistic offerings when budgets appear?  

There are events all year round, hire locally and pay fairly when it's there and we can continue to give ourselves freely when it's not.  

Monty Biggins


It's time for true democracy!

In response to "Federal voting must be strategic this October" by G.D Maxwell, Pique, April 16, 2015 — tears slowly welled up in my eyes as I read his commentary touting the benefits of strategic voting within the West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country riding.

I was gutted because — for nearly 18 years — I have admired Max's opinions on everything from Whistler's problems with doggie doo to his dismay over the Harper government.

However, I cannot subscribe to his proposed vow to vote strategically in the 2015 election. I've been to a polling booth having made that vow, and it didn't work. It hasn't worked for thousands of people across the country, and it's presumptuous to say that it'll work for our riding in the 2015 election.

Green MP candidate, Ken Melamed is a strong candidate that deserves genuine consideration. By calling for a strategic vote, Max is indeed asking us to ignore our beliefs in true democracy.

Lisa Severn


Courage to vote Green

I read last week's "Maxed Out" (Pique, April 16) with both amusement and horror. I enjoyed and agreed with the assessment of the state of the Canadian government, but I completely disagree with the conclusion that Liberals are a "strategic" choice in this riding.

Like the author Max, I am sick and tired of a broken political system — so broken that people are compelled to support candidates based on who they aren't, rather than who they are. That isn't a democracy and its no wonder so many people are disenfranchised to vote.

After attending Ken Melamed's campaign launch last week, it's clear to me that he's the strongest candidate in our riding. I can feel good about putting my support behind him and the Green Party because electing Ken, who puts people before party, will do more than electing a Liberal backbencher.

Have you noticed how silent Pamela Goldsmith-Jones has been on the LNG topic? Is that the kind of deference we need from our MP? No! We need someone who's unencumbered by their party.

This is a very important issue for me and I cannot support a candidate who remains tactically silent on LNG.

Furthermore, I am encouraged by examples in other countries like Germany where the Green Party has had an influence on government, putting policies into place that have turned that country around on issues like renewable energy, their national health service and free tuition for higher education.

With a strong Green presence in B.C., we have a real chance to steer the government away from the old paradigm of last century into a future our youth deserve. I don't want to split the vote either — so I urge those of you who want to get rid of a Harper government to have the courage to vote Green and join Ken Melamed and Elizabeth May in restoring Canada to what it should be — a global leader in environmental and social well being.

Myra Graham


Pemberton's mission statement

As I reflect on a great experience running for office, I was able to knock on over three quarters of the town's doors. I was able to hear the dreams and wishes of the town's population and get a real pulse of its heartbeat. I had two important questions for the constituents: What did they like about the Village of Pemberton and how would they like to see the village improve?

No surprise, the pool was number one. The question is not about the pool; rather, will the tax base support a pool and except a substantial tax increase to fund it? Is there a coalition in the entire valley, from the Meadows to Anderson Lake, which is willing to pay for it? In addition, the consensus is, "is council willing to reduce the Village of Pemberton's operating cost, like wages, to offset the cost of a community pool?"

An ice rink was equally as important to residents. Now, this is actually a real possibility given the affordability of the structure. We do not need to reinvent the wheel here. We take an existing blue print from some other small town and use it. Maybe the Mount Currie Band property, just behind the tourist information center would be a suitable location. The equitable solution is for the entire valley to pay for it, it becomes affordable, and everyone enjoys it.

The residents want more businesses downtown creating jobs and diversification of our local economy.

The village is given praise by the residents for building the barn. We would like to see it getting used more frequently. The possible uses are flea markets, garage sales, barter markets, farmers markets, weddings, celebrations, community gatherings, local music festivals during events and tourist time. This structure is the newest member of the town's driving economic force.

Residents would appreciate more small-business benefits from the summer music festival and other celebrations in town. For example, one suggestion was a beer garden at the Canada Day Celebration.

Activities for families are a high priority for residents in this valley given the demographics. Council was given credit for making more shade at the water park.

A top priority for residents is supporting the mountain-biking community. Dedicated residents have spent countless hours making and improving world-class trails. This is promoting mountain biking in the valley for the benefit of the local economy. The council should be very active in solving the railroad bridge crossing problem and creating a central mountain-biking hub in town.

The hub should connect to all the trails. This has been echoed by our prominent mountain-biking community members. The community's economic interest in the industry is the responsibility of the village to facilitate.

In addition, the growth of the snowmobile club is a prime example of where village involvement is needed. A gentleman stood up at the all candidates meeting and asked for support from the village to promote and grow the club. There was no response or interest from the candidates.

The village should help Pemberton Surf Club get control of the Rutherford Facility, so it can be an economic force in town. Furthermore, the village should continue to support the trails association, PEVUS.

These are attractions tourists pay for to experience and they will create a long-term sustainable economy. This direction can bring a new branding to Pemberton, instead of being a bedroom community of Whistler.

Whistler has done a good job branding its tourism industry.

Council should reinstate funding to Pemberton tourism that was cut by the last administration.

The council should be active in reducing pesticides, chemicals on farms, and in promoting organic farming. The valley's environmental health is the community's health. The city of Vancouver and European Union have banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in landscaping and park treatment. "A recent study published in the journal of the  "http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2015/01/28/fj.14-267179.abstract" Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology has found further support that exposure to very low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides, comparable to what is found in nectar and pollen from neonicotinoid-treated plants crops, is sufficient to harm bees." The world's food crops are created by thirty per cent bee pollination, and ninety per cent of wild plants need bee pollination to thrive," states The Natural Resources Defense Council.

Our community financial health is a concern in regards to our drinking water. I was invited into a resident's house and the entire ceiling was torn out. The mineral-heavy water had completely eaten through the piping, leaving the owner paying the repair cost. I have heard of other cases like this in the valley. We believe it is about time people pay for the amount of water they use, instead of a flat rate.

The council has an obligation to keep the valley an affordable place to live. The public pays high taxes with few services provided, like recycling and garbage pickup. The taxpayer should not be subsidizing private developers, like the private school in the valley. We the tax-paying community should not be burdened by private business profiting from our tax dollars!

The council should run the airport land's economy smoothly.

The process should not hinder development and the desire of the public doing business there.

The current Internet provider at the airport charges a substantial price and the service is not very reliable. I had a company tell me, if this problem is not dealt with, they would pack up and completely remove their operation from the valley.

At the all candidates meeting, there was a prominent business leader in the audience; who stated, there is a perception that this town is closed for business. He received no adequate reply to his statement, which has been reiterated by others in our community.

Improvement to public transit between Whistler and Pemberton is a high priority. This is a very important topic for residents who work in Whistler. The Greyhound service cuts and possible route elimination between Pemberton and Whistler makes this issue even more important.

The other suggestions for improvements to the community include a dedicated dog park, people cleaning up after their pet, expanding the skate park, taking the weeds out of One Mile Lake, and keeping the community radio.

Also having more public washrooms is a necessity for our tourists as well as fixing the highway between Whistler and Pemberton.

A crosswalk in front of the Whistler Real Estate Office for pedestrian safety is needed too.

Putting a mural on the Pemberton Valley Supermarket wall would be a great tourist attraction, telling the history of our valley.

Senior housing support is crucial for our aging population, and proper sidewalks leading up to the highway light from Pioneer Junction is a safety issue too.

Expanding our boundaries to create more tax base is another public topic.

The job of council is to be active in any part of community life that brings prosperity, a healthy environment to live in, and creates strong social connection between residents.

The theme in the public's feedback is more council participation, direct action in the community's well being, and keeping people's experience with the village positive.

Council and its partners in the valley can use its natural setting as an economic force. Council has the ability to use our tax dollars better and be realistic in what it can support.

In Canada, we strongly support government's role in our lives. We believe that our elected government's biggest task is to insure the public's interest comes first in any decision. This is a fundamental value in Canadian society.

Public institutions protect Canadian society; it shapes what we do and how we are with each other. That is why Canada and British Columbia are both such great places to live.

Kiyoshi Kosky



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