Moratorium on toxic turf
In "Letters to The Editor," March 16, Roger Soane CEO Whistler Sport Legacies, wrote that he, "was able to raise my children in a healthy and safe environment." His letter in support of the addition of artificial turf (AT) to our community, failed to make any mention of the health concerns that have been raised about "crumb rubber" #ToxicTurf.
Many community members have been shocked to learn about the proposed allocation of funds in the 2017 RMOW budget for artificial turf — $2 to $4 million-plus depending on where the field will be located (possibly Bayly Park where air quality is already a concern by the residents there).
Unless one attended municipal parks and leisure meetings, or followed very closely the budgetary process, you did not know that planning for an artificial field has been ongoing since 2015.
Over the past few weeks I have been reviewing enormous amounts of information regarding the dangers of #ToxicTurf. Vancouver is in the process of replacing crumb rubber fields as a result of concern that there are links to increased cancers in soccer players. The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. currently has an investigation underway to decide whether or not these surfaces are safe.
From Turfgrassod.org: "In order to make fiscally and environmentally sound decisions re: potential purchase and installation of artificial turf in their communities, decision makers must consider all short and long-term issues and concerns."
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has spent thousands of dollars investigating costing and location, but very little attention to the ongoing research about health concerns of AT.
A professor from SFU in Vancouver, Bruce Lanphear, has been noted for his concerns about the exposure of children to lead and many other carcinogenic substances from artificial turf. He proposes "a moratorium on their installation and use until adequate studies are done that confirm the materials aren't toxic. This should include studies to evaluate the hazard as the artificial turf is worn down, and to find out how they are being disposed of.
"Does exposure to the artificial turf result in quantifiable disease, such as cancer, or disabilities in children? We don't know. But given the pattern of toxicity that has been observed with several toxins (e.g., lead, tobacco, DDT, PCBs, PBDEs, OP pesticides), it doesn't make sense to allow children to be unnecessarily exposed to known toxins and carcinogens, even if they are considered 'low.' It is the cumulative impact of exposures from various sources that determine whether a child will experience a disease or disability; every little bit adds up."
I did not see any of Lanphear's research included in the report to council about costing/safely concerns of artificial turf.
Please let your concerns be known to council. Show up for the April 11 meeting Q&A session — it is not too late to convince our elected council that Whistler's commitment to the environment and being a sustainable community should over-ride the need to have more hours available for field users on artificial turf.
No middle ground on safety
Earlier this year, I sent an email to Jessica McDonald, CEO of BC Hydro, in which I drew her attention to a serious error in the information provided to British Columbians in a Hydro News bulletin pertaining to a health and safety matter.
Within hours, and on the very same day, I received a reply from the Director of Conservation and Energy Management for BC Hydro advising me that he was following up on my email to McDonald and thanking me for bringing this matter to BC Hydro's attention and emphasizing that, "safety is core to everything we do."
When it comes to the issue of safety, there can be no middle ground. One is either all in or all out.
The members of our community and our valued guests should expect and receive nothing less than a commitment from the entire community to put safety at the core of everything we do. Since our mayor and senior bureaucrats seem to be merely contemplating safety in Function, in place of action, I'll offer some food for thought.
In South Function, both sides of the road are signed No Parking. Section 4.1.4 (c) of Whistler Zoning Bylaw 303 states, "In all other zones, no parking shall be located within 1.5 metres of a parcel boundary." Section 6.6 requires that "a plan shall be submitted with all development permit and building permit applications showing all required parking and loading spaces, location of all public and private roads, snow storage areas, drainage, paving or surfacing, markings, circulation areas, landscape areas and all works and services required under the Municipal Subdivision Bylaw."
Some properties in South Function appear to have site parking that is closer than 1.5 metres to the front lot line adjacent the road. In addition, it is common to see vehicles parked on the east side of the road in contravention of signed No Parking regulations.
How long would a vehicle in Whistler Village parked in contravention of a bylaw last before it was ticketed and towed? Not long.
So it would appear as if the Resort Municipality is enforcing its bylaws unevenly or, in the case of Function, not at all. In the event that someone is struck by a vehicle, even a bicycle, and seriously injured or worse, killed, because they were forced to walk in the traffic lane due to vehicles parked in contravention of Whistler's parking and zoning bylaw, could Whistler and, by default, the taxpayers, be held liable?
Maybe, we could get the mayor to sue the municipality for its lack of involvement or care regarding the safety of Function Junction!
Maybe, we could get some support for the people that live, work and breath in Function.
Maybe, when everyone is tired of going to the gong show of the village and they start coming down to Function as a reprieve to the village madness, people will listen.
Maybe. Maybe not. Oh, and could someone please fix the bus shelter at Spring Creek and Highway 99 before it collapses on someone! It has only been six weeks!
Action only adds to danger
The Nesters pedestrian light is certainly the most lethal in Whistler —when it flashes green after having been red the natural impulse of tourists from the majority of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta) is to think they have an advanced green for an immediate left-hand turn.
Incidents at this light where families have almost been run down by trucks have already been reported in the Pique. So I was shocked to see on March 30 a policeman pushing the pedestrian button and then running back up the hill to hide behind the Nester's sign intent on writing an occasional ticket I suppose.
I checked back 15 minutes later and he was still doing this and it was 3:30 p.m. when traffic north is at about its heaviest. The consequence of this is to stall traffic on our busy Highway 99 for close to half a minute.
With up to 20 vehicles coming to a stop this only unnecessarily contributes to the pollution problem in our valley while potentially creating a lethal situation should a tourist then make a left turn into oncoming traffic when the light flashes green.
I think the RCMP could be held responsible for any accident that occurs and made to pay considerable compensation to the victims of their entrapment procedure.
Surely our local constabulary can find better things to do with their time. It reminds me of (the classic newspaper comic strip hero) Pogo's most famous line: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Coming together as a community against dog shit
Every year's snowmelt reveals the winter's hidden piles of poop. A subject brought up last week (in "Letters to the Editor") by a parent wanting to take their kids to the tangle tree (playground) in Creekside. In fact it's a subject that's brought up every year and nothing changes.
Some people will just not change their bad habits, no matter how many conveniently accessible, free poop bags and nearby bins will help these people. They'd prefer to ignore the poop and just walk away, others will bag it then either throw it into the nearest ditch or just leave it there. In the summer these abandoned poops just bake in the sun.
They like to have a dog but skirt the responsibilities that come with that pleasure.
Just the other day my girlfriend had to step over a dog poop to get to the poop bag dispenser at Lost Lake. In other words (someone) left a poop within arm's reach of poop bags and eyesight of a bin. Someone else has been throwing filled bags over the snowbank on the road where I live, (incidentally, If I catch you, expect to have the bags thrown back at you). These people are a lost cause and no amount of reminders or readily available bags will help change these people. You can write 100 letters asking folks to clean up after their dog but they'll take the easiest route out.
The only thing I think we can do as a community is to call them out. If you see someone not cleaning up after their dog say something. Call it a neighbourhood watch if you like but it's essentially taking ownership of the place you live. I'm sure no one would be happy to be shouted at across a busy street about leaving dog crap on the ground.
I always carry more bags than my dog can fill so I'll have a spare. I hope one day we can all live and play in a dog-shit free Whistler, but until then we'll have to look out for each other.
Parent Pass and Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts doesn't appear to be much of a supporter of the residents of Whistler, or local season's pass holders for that matter.
This was readily apparent when Vail Resorts recently cancelled the popular Parent Pass with no notice whatsoever. Vail Resorts' excuse for cancelling the pass was that it didn't mesh with "Vail Resorts systems, procedures and controls not supporting products being transferrable."
What Vail Resorts is really saying to the locals is their company comes first and the local customer isn't a priority. I believe the customer is No. 3 on Vail Resorts' mission statement that is mentioned on its website. If the local customer really mattered to them they'd have found a way to carry on with the Parents Pass as it was.
After the locals turned up the heat on Vail Resorts it raised the white flag and ran for cover by offering two seasons passes in 2017-2018. My guess is that Vail Resorts will do what large corporations do in 2018-2019 — they'll rescind the two season-pass offer that was reluctantly offered to parents for next year.
It's also telling that Vail Resorts offers its Epic Pass to Canadians in U.S. funds only. They padded their bets on the exchange rate by pegging it at $1.30. Tell me where I can purchase U.S. funds for $1.30 in Canadian funds? The answer is you can't. So the Epic Pass true cost is about six per cent higher than advertised. Misleading for sure.
On the face of it, the Epic Pass looks cheaper if you buy the U.S. funds version, however, that savings goes away if you use any of the perks offered with the Canadian-dollar version of the Unlimited Season's pass.
Vail Resorts knows this — remember it answers to its shareholders first.
In the grand scheme of all things Vail Resorts, Whistler and Vancouver locals are way down on its list of priorities — unless they're a shareholder.
It's also interesting that Vail Resorts doesn't offer discounts on its Epic Pass to seniors. Vail Resorts obviously doesn't see value in offering this option to one of the growing demographics, which in itself tells people something about their commitment to offering equal service to all age groups. An Epic Pass for a Canadian senior is $1,454 at the undervalued $1.30 exchange rate that Vail Resorts quotes on the Whistler Blackcomb website.
The Epic Pass is a smoke-and-mirrors show in so far as local folks are concerned. At today's exchange rate it may be a little less expensive than a regular unlimited pass, but how many Canadians are going to check out of Whistler to travel to one of the U.S. resorts at today's exchange rates? In most cases (not all) the resorts they own in the U.S. don't hold a candle to Whistler Blackcomb, so why would we leave? My guess is that Vail Resorts couldn't care less about whether or not local residents will travel south to one of their U.S. ski hills.
But, I bet they really care whether or not their American Epic Pass holders will travel to Whistler. Vail Resorts will probably leverage the heck out of the Epic Pass being accepted at Whistler Blackcomb to the U.S. pass holders because it's now the crown jewel.
So, if you think the mountain has been busy this winter, wait until next year. Whistler Blackcomb could be jammed up even more with U.S. based Epic Pass holders skiing here. Especially when you factor in the strong U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate that exists today. An online search estimates that Vail Resorts will have over 650,000 Epic Pass holders in 2017 that will now have unlimited access to North America's No. 1 ski resort. How can this not have a detrimental effect on skiing at Whistler Blackcomb?
Vail Resorts showed its true colours on the Parent Pass issue. Add all this up and Vail Resorts seemingly has less to offer the local day skiers/boarders and season's pass holders than we enjoyed before they arrived on the scene.
It might be all downhill from here (no pun intended).
Community fundraising thanks
Each week I read a thank-you letter from a local organization and it's such a great reminder of the supportive community we live in.
Local businesses, community groups, and volunteers help make Whistler an amazing place to live. It gives me great pleasure to be the person writing a thank-you letter this week on behalf of the Whistler Nordics.
On March 14 the club held a fundraiser at Creekbread and I would like to thank all the diners who came and ate pizza in the name of Nordic Skiing!
We held a silent auction, which was made possible through the support of many local businesses: Whistler Chocolate, SASS Designs, Four Seasons Resort, Nicklaus North, Nagomi Sushi, Quantum Vitamins, The Adventure Group, Fairmont/Vida Spa, The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge, Rim Rock Cafe, Delta Hotels Whistler Village Suites, Hilton Whistler, The Grocery Store, Sushi Village, Slope Slide Supply, RMOW, Sea to Sky Car Wash, Peiffer Family, Sicotte/Wittenberg Family, and Sladen/Doak Family.
I'd like to thank Tammy and her team at Creekbread Pizza who each Tuesday give a community group the opportunity to use their space and then donate a percentage of their pizza sales on the night.
Finally, a huge thank you to the Scotiabank Creekside team — Kimiko, Victoria, Karen, Astin, Nial and Stephanie who, as part of the Bright Futures program, will match the funds we raised on the night enabling us to meet our fundraising goal to bring a second night of youth programming to Lost Lake next winter.
Time for some homework
I am writing in response to Tyler Cheverie's letter to you published in Pique, March 23, complaining of your paper's liberal bias, which may be true.
However, if Cheverie truly believes that global warming/climate change is a myth I think he needs to do his homework on the topic as well as educate himself about science.
He should also think about his own biases from the other side of the political spectrum. When people deal with science they need to take themselves, as well as what they think they know, out of the equation.