Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of August 25th


Whistler, by Nature

Thank you Pique readers! So many of you have gone on record that you value Whistler's awesome nature and support being "more conscious, more fiercely protective, and more vocal about these values."

More than 2,300 Pique readers took the time to "like" Leslie Anthony's Aug. 4 column, "Whistler, by Nature."

This column resonated with thousands and if you missed it, for me the gist of it was that "by increasingly inviting and expanding events in the Sea to Sky corridor that treat its spectacular environment and wild nature as a mere sideshow, we are slowly, perhaps inevitably, ceasing to fully appreciate it ourselves, and by consequence failing to provide the deserved and required duty of care."  

I hope to work together with Leslie Anthony and many of you to "pull together a cohesive vision and operative template to celebrate and promote the interplay between a natural environment and the humans who live here and visit."

I hope Pique columnist GD Maxwell joins us too; I would love to hear more about how successful resort towns manage to thrive once the days of growth have passed.

Kristina Swerhun

Pie charts and stuff

I do not have post-secondary education, my walls are not littered with $100,000 certificates tucked into a $5 frame. However, I do have a Masters degree in logic and common sense.

Do you not think the housing crisis and the cost of living in Whistler is not in direct correlation as to why Whistler is having a hard time filling jobs with Canadians?

Personally I have always dreamed of a world where I can work like a dog and then hand over all of those hard-earned pay cheques to someone other than myself.

I hate the idea of my fridge being filled with yummy healthy meals. Hydro — who needs lights when there are candles? I don't need a phone — I love sitting around the candle and writing letters in longhand to my friends and family.

Is Ottawa going to receive a copy of the Communities That Care survey? Was part of the due diligence providing Ottawa with an example of the cost of living in Whistler compared to what an average employee takes home every two weeks?

It's very easy to arrange a meeting with local businesses, to sit in first class on an all-expenses paid trip to Ottawa, overwhelm the Pique with potential job opportunities — it's called sleight of hand. "Look, Ottawa, we are doing the best possible job to try to capture a Canadian, look at these colourful pie charts, check out the Excel spreadsheet we even did a survey and stuff."

Have you really put your best foot forward?

Don't get me wrong — there have obviously been some improvements to the wages in Whistler. Now, someone can afford to buy butter to add to their Kraft Dinner.

If I was a foreign worker wanting to come to Whistler, I would be truly grateful for the amount of effort Whistler has put into (the Temporary Foreign Workers) program.

The minimum wage is improving next year as well, that's another amazing step forward. So now when the employee that is making a minimum wage goes to the grocery store and the milk that they buy will be a dollar more, essentially they will be paying for their own raise.

How much effort has there (really) been to ensure a Canadian a fighting chance to live long term here in Whistler?  

"But we have pie charts and stuff..."

Paul Rowe

We need to do better

Killing bears is not the answer.

We have become far too tolerant in our society of a cheap, easy fix. What we need to do is to be proactive and avoid human-bear interactions from becoming a so-called problem.

I am writing about a mother and her two cubs that were killed by Conservation Officers at Lost Lake Park on Monday, Aug. 15 after an incident with a biker. This particular mother bear has been struggling to find space to raise her family in her home range all season; being pushed around by trail users and bike trail construction.

Initial reports of negative interactions with people were received in May. Some signage was erected on the bike trail where she lived. But because we know that female bears, and mothers in particular, are reluctant to leave their home range, Get Bear Smart asked that the bike trail be closed. It was not.

In National Parks, where conservation of wildlife is of primary concern, trails are closed to protect wildlife and the people using them. Areas that bear families are regularly using are closed. It is a normal and expected practice.

Instead, conservation officers made the decision to kill the mother after the number of incidents was deemed to be too many.

The family was tranquilized in a tree for "removal." This practice in itself presents significant risk to bears and particularly cubs that almost always climb as high as they can for their own safety.

The cubs did climb higher and one cub died as a result of the fall out of the tree from a great height.

This is the second incident in the last few weeks where a cub died during capture by the Conservation Officer Service. The previous incident occurred at Ironman when a bear family was tranquilized to be moved out of the runners' way.

Get Bear Smart is asking the Conservation Officer Service to review Animal Care Protocols to ensure that such preventable incidents do not happen again.

The Ministry of Environment then made the decision to shoot the second cub as he was deemed not to be a suitable candidate for rehabilitation. Since there is no scientific evidence to support this decision, the cub should have been taken to Critter Care (a short-term rehabilitation centre) and released back to the wild next spring.

Current bear management practices in Whistler are unsustainable for our bear population. The population is probably down to about 30 per cent of the number of bears we had only a decade ago.

Additionally, bikes and bears don't mix well. Neither do running races in bear country. In both cases, the distance at which the bear is encountered is usually too close and can therefore invoke a defensive response.

Races are even more problematic because the runners need to stay on course and keep running. The bear is likely to interpret this as an offensive action. Even worse, during a race, this would happen continuously as one runner after another approaches the bear.

Normally, when people are hiking in bear country, they often become aware of a bear's presence from a respectful distance and are able to react appropriately avoiding a potential defensive reaction. Extra precautions definitely need to be taken by event organizers and bike park management.

We can do better and people need to demand that our wildlife is protected. The unnecessary killing of our bears must stop. People's safety needs to be considered proactively, not after the fact. These situations are preventable. We must show more respect and reverence for all life.

The mother, Michele, was a 10-year-old Whistler resident bear. Her two cubs were seven months old. May they all rest in peace.

May we do better next time! May we choose to do the right thing.

Sylvia Dolson
Executive Director, Get Bear Smart Society

Killing bears not the answer

A girl was startled and fell off her bike in the Emerald Forest yesterday because a deer cut her off.

I don't see any conservation officers out with their guns to hunt down that deer.

Situational awareness people — if you are mountain biking or hiking on trails in Whistler, there is a good chance you will see a bear, especially during feeding season!

(The bear family that was killed by the Conservation Officer Service on Aug.15) was not robbing lunches, disturbing sunbathers or breaking into houses.

To my information, the bear did not swat the person. There were no injuries. They were just being bears in their natural habitat.

This conservation officer destroyed a family of bears after Bear Smart asked that this trail, in their home range, be closed for their protection.  

Patricia Wagner

Changing a culture

Every year, I go with my young daughters to see Dirt Diaries, Deep Summer, and Deep Winter photo challenges. These are amazing, inspiring events that showcase why our family chooses to live in Whistler.  

Every year I am dismayed at the lack of females in the lineups. None out of the five teams (seriously?), or one out of five is not enough. We all know there are a mountain-full of talented female photographers, filmmakers and athletes. Perhaps I find it so jarring in a town that is overflowing with amazing female role models.

Did anyone producing and promoting these events notice this imbalance? If they did, did they raise the issue? What was the response?

If (Prime Minister) Trudeau can choose 50 per cent women for his cabinet in one of the most male-dominated professions, Whistler Blackcomb and Crankworx can lift their game.

Chris Wrightson

Wildlife is key to our success

The other day I heard about a bear family that had been destroyed at Lost Lake.

Later that night at work I met a Whistler guest who had come to visit from Holland. She told me a quick story about how some wolves had moved into the Banff area in Alberta at a campground and how 10 people were fined for attracting wildlife, and that it was horrible that people make a mess and leave it out.

She said she hoped wolves might one day come to Holland from Germany, but that it was not likely because there were too many people and not enough space. Then she said, "that's why I came here for a holiday" (because there is space for wildlife and people).

I did not know what to say.

Maybe when the province and all of its governing bodies are deciding to destroy wildlife in their natural feeding areas, before seriously considering other courses of action, they could simply consider this statement from one of the millions of tourists that come here: "That's why I came here, for a holiday."

(They come to Whistler), above all other places in the world to go, (to) see wildlife, recreate, in nature, relax and spend money in our community, which is why we all are able to live here.

Leave wildlife some space.

RIP all the bears that have lost their lives to human carelessness.

Kathy Jenkins

Together we make it work

You are amazing. It is such a challenging time to be a parent in the sea to sky, especially if you are in the middle of the child-care crisis or looking for housing. And yet, you are making it work.

You are caring for your child, helping them develop and grow up. They are making memories and you are the star. Every moment of every day, you are there for them. Through it all you are balancing budgets, work commitments, child-care arrangements and volunteer commitments.

Dear moms and dads, take care of yourself. Your mental health and well being is the glue that holds this whole thing together.

Make the choices that support you and your mental health. Aim to "SCORE" each day — that's Socialize, Create, Organize, Rest and Exercise.

Most importantly, give yourself recognition for all the days you have already made it through.

Keep going, we will come together and create solutions to this child-care crisis. Together, we will make this work.

Shelly Bortolotto

Earth Overshoot Day

Judging by the little I know of Max's background, the subjects he sometimes writes about and what I think is the gist of his column "Choose to live the dream" (Pique, Aug.18) I think he has it right, but said it wrong.

We are already living a dream. I am well aware of the latest charts, graphs and photos (like the crime scene tape around the coral we've killed), plotting the likely fatal changes in our climate, but nine days ago I was led to a unique report.

It was from National Geographic and was titled "Earth Overshoot Day." When I first saw the article I missed the fact that the date was Aug. 13, 2015 and not 2016. I was shocked I hadn't heard about the article a year ago. After I read the article and saw a new chart I thought the scientists shouldn't have been allowed to name it. A catchier title would have been "Earth Deficit Day."

Regardless, Earth DDay is the day of the year when humanity begins consuming more than our Mother Earth can provide. In 1970 Earth DDay was in December and it is moving forward at an exponential rate which means Earth DDay could move forward another four months in about 20 years.

We are destroying our life support system by living the dream that there is meaning in money and more meaning in more money.

I wonder if we will wake up before it is too late, and "choose to live" with the reality we can't "fill the void" with money, or will we die in our sleep?

Doug Barr