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Letters to the Editor for the week of December 8th

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Whistler Sled Dog Co. one of the good ones

Many people in the (sled dog) industry do not agree with Sue Eckersley (the former operator of the Whistler Sled Dog Company who has come out against the industry).

Many people working at the Whistler Sled Dog Company, some with 20 years experience, disagree with her. It seemed to them she had made up her mind long before she admitted it.  

I worked to socialize and home the last 80 dogs through WAG. This culminated with driving the last two dogs to Powell River in my truck, to drop them at their forever home together, as it was determined they were inseparable. I also worked at the sled company's forest site with the dogs for a year before (it was closed).

Most people on site felt they were going in the right direction and that the stated goal of "creating an ideal operation" would, in fact, be achieved. Some people even felt the valuable land lease, utilized by the Whistler Sled Dog Co., was in fact a prize that was already on the radar for another use. There was no follow up on all the assets owned by the company.

A small operation with a limited number of dogs can be a wonderful thing. Forced consolidation after the Olympics, due to a drop in demand and some warm winters, left too many dogs in one place.

(The many) in the forest (were) an incredible and tragic situation but not systemic to the industry. Mushers are dog lovers.

Tourism greed, the lifeblood of Tiny Town's municipal cheerleader squad, created the sled dog problem in Whistler. As well, the Whistler climate is a little too warm for this activity (dogs get hot and the snow gets soft) and this creates a shorter season that is tougher on the teams at lower (warmer) elevations.

To equate the Whistler Sled Dog Co. to the "real" operations is simply wrong.

A movie could easily be made to highlight the love and respect shared between sled dogs and their mushers and caregivers. 

I certainly enjoyed my time working with both these groups. To suggest anything abusive or cruel is an industry standard is simply false. Sure, exceptions will occur, but when is that not the case?

Perri Domm

Camping being used to solve housing crisis

How do some people solve their housing problem? Easy — they're living on the street in campers, vans and tents relieving themselves and leaving garbage wherever they go.

It's hard to know how many people are living like this because no one is looking for them. If they are, it's not apparent, and the problem has only grown worse over the years. But it does solve a housing problem.      

Parking in front of the animal shelter is limited and with the current construction, it's worse. So, it's just a little irritating to find a van that's obviously been parked for some time taking up half the parking. Then a barely dressed man got out and relieved himself.

People put everything but a car in their garage, often parking on the street. Sometimes there are more cars parked on the street than in driveways. In some cases, driveways are so steep people don't park on them.

Cheakamus Crossing is one example of accommodation without adequate parking. It's often a one-lane street with two-way traffic.

There's a public beach and washroom in Emerald where I've seen people camping. I stepped on my balcony to see tents pitched on the boat launch dock. There's a number of places between the shore of Green Lake and the Valley Trail where people have campfires and appear to camp. I've also seen people camping on the opposite side of the highway where there's a pull out.

People park in mail-box pull outs, sometimes overnight, even though it's five-minute parking. There's another area just past the transit yard where I've seen people camp. People can pretty much park wherever they want at night because no one patrols neighbourhoods.  

For parking regulations to work, they need to be enforced on a daily basis, including evenings and in parks, cul-de-sacs and dead ends. It makes the streets more dangerous if they're cluttered with cars because snowplow operators can't do a proper job. I've seen cars parked illegally for days and weeks at a time that never get ticketed. When the vehicle does move, it might as well still be there because of the huge pile of frozen snow left behind.     

No one wants to be ticketed or towed, and bylaw doesn't want to deal with irate drivers, but the fact remains if nothing is done about illegally parked cars, the situation only gets worse. A huge sign at both ends of Whistler might help (that is, if people read it).       

Erna Gray

In true Whistler spirit

Many thanks to the driver of the bus and the passengers who looked after me and got me the Whistler Health Care Centre recently.

You went out of your way in the Whistler spirit to look after someone in need.

Thanks also to the great professionals in the emergency department at the health care centre for your kindness and medical attention.

Thanks as well to Marie and Rick.

Walter Wilson

High-speed rail study

I had to "lol" when I read the article about a high-speed rail study being endorsed by the local politicians (Pique, Nov. 24).

Let's set the "way back in time" machine to the Whistler muni council meeting just prior to the Olympics being awarded here. It was October or just after. I know this because the last BC Rail passenger train to Whistler had just run the rails.

The council and those in attendance were grappling with the transportation issues that were going to arise from said Games if awarded. So, as a concerned citizen, I got up to the microphone and asked why was the train not factored into any planning and mentioned "... it would be a great legacy after the Games."

The then-mayor, Hugh O'Reilly, answered telling the audience that rail was not in the cards because the train does not make money. His evidence probably came from BC Rail and they wanted to kill the service.

I was about to rebut his anecdotal evidence... but I found my mic had been turned off. Thank goodness the next concerned citizen up to the mic threw water on his assessment. He held in his hand an actual schedule from 1973 to prove that the train lost money because BC Rail had not changed the running of said train right up to its demise in the (middle of the) new millennium!

More blustering from the mayor who said we should move on to the main decision of whether the council should endorse the bid for the Olympics.

Fast forward to present day. Now it is always easy for the politicos to endorse studies of things we all want... even if they are expensive studies. Win-win.

I say forget high-speed rail and how about spending the money on a train that can run right now! It doesn't even have to be high speed (which I doubt will come in my lifetime. Just think about the promised Evergreen Line of Vancouver's light rail rapid transit... a 14-year promise, give or take!). It just has to run to service the needs of the corridor!

Put WiFi on it and a cappuccino machine in, the ability to stow bikes and ski gear, or other such large packages, and a price with the commuter in mind.

I guarantee the riders will be lining up. It meanders through some of the most picturesque scenery this world has to offer. I know because I rode the old Bud car.  When the ridership proves the feasibility of high-speed rail, consider it then and only then.

You want people to make greener choices... then give them a real choice! It's time to stop spending money on kicking around ideas. It is time to act on ideas for the immediate needs. Corridor traffic problems are the only proof you need to validate this current situation.

In closing, I suggest we all watch The Simpsons episode about the Monorail being sold to Springfield. Its satire is probably way too close to the truth on such matters.

Become concerned when it sounds too good to be true!

Keith Auchinachie

We should ban PM from B.C. mountains

Last winter, Justin Trudeau took a day off from the grind of being Prime Minister for a day of riding at Whistler. In the media whirlwind, the Prime Minister waxed poetic about his love for this province, particularly the mountains and the coast. But, given his decision to approve the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline, I'm starting to think that we should ban Trudeau from B.C. mountains and beaches.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline emits more than 100 megatonnes of CO2, over half the 200 megatons of emissions reductions that Canada has promised under the Paris Climate Agreement and the equivalent of putting 34 million new cars on Canada's roads.

There are a lot of reasons the planet can't afford this kind of project, from coral bleaching to displacement, and here along the Sea to Sky, we're not immune. Climate change is more than just an inconvenience to B.C. mountains, it's an existential threat. Although this season (is) primed to be one the deepest in a long time, it's easy to forget years like the 2014-15 season, or to forget that the Horstman Glacier could disappear in a matter of years.

And, that's just the mountains. Sea levels along this coast are expected to rise a metre by 2100. And while a metre over 80-plus years doesn't seem like a lot, remember that a single piece of infrastructure to protect False Creek from sea-level rise is expected to cost $800 million, and that, according to the non-profit Sustainable Surf, rising seas "will result in the loss and destruction of many surf breaks world-wide" including in places like Tofino.

Speaking of the coast, this pipeline would bring 400 tankers through the Burrard Inlet each year. A spill from any one of these would be next to impossible to clean up, and could have impacts all the way from Haida Gwaii to the Olympic Peninsula.

If you're still not convinced that approving this pipeline should get Trudeau's B.C. card revoked, consider that a spill would cost the city of Vancouver $1.2 billion. And, even if it doesn't spill, the city estimated that it would lose $687 million in GDP from this project, and that's just Vancouver.

But that's not all. According to some, Kinder Morgan poses a massive risk to the remaining southern resident orcas. Approving a project that could endanger, let alone threaten to wipe out, such an iconic and ecologically important species should be enough to make anyone, especially a self-proclaimed "proud son of B.C.," persona non-grata in this province.

Add climate change and the spill risk to that, and there should be a photo of Trudeau's face with a red X through it at the base of every lift and the rental counter of every ski and surf shop in this province.

Cam Fenton

Missing bus shelters

I live in Nordic and have noticed for quite sometime that the bus shelter that is closest to the Rimrock Cafe (is) missing. I am not a frequent public-transit user myself but it should have been put in by now as: a) It's winter and it's snowing or raining; b) It keeps people off the road, as when it gets dark it's dangerous.

Maybe the RMOW should be looking at installing this soon instead of hanging Christmas lights on a Sunday at 4:00 p.m. when the commuters and city traffic are leaving.

Lisa Merrick

PVMS says thanks

As co-chair of the Pemberton Valley Men's Shed (PVMS) I had the great pleasure of representing our group at the Pemberton Secondary School on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The occasion was the presentation of a $250 cheque to PVMS from the students. The money was raised by the students in support of the annual Movember Foundation fundraising campaign for men's health.

The students chose this project as part of their "leadership" program, taking full responsibility for the concept and execution. They raised money with bake sales, moustache-growing sponsorships, community donations, and chose to split the funds raised between PVMS and the Movember Foundation.

The students hosted a very entertaining school assembly, speaking to the issues of men's health and then awarding donated prizes for various categories (e.g. most growth, most appearance changing, etc.). It was all good fun, and very invigorating to see the youth so engaged and showing responsibility toward the community.

As a member of PVMS it was particularly rewarding to see that our efforts over the last 18 months have reached down into the community, and indeed been recognized by a group that we would have least expected to take notice.

Many thanks to all the students at Pemberton Secondary for this.

Derek Walton
Co-Chair Pemberton Valley Men's Shed

Your garbage is not worth a bear's life

As in Whistler, the negligence of Pemberton residents and businesses has resulted in at least three black bears being trapped this fall. These bears have either been translocated or killed.

Bear scat in town was copious and included plastic, so imagine what the plastic did to the bears' intestines. The Conservation Officer told me that translocation often does not work as bears return, and a bear whose scat includes plastic is more likely to be killed when captured.

In bear country, residents should not leave out Halloween pumpkins or other bear attractants. I heard people took photos of a bear eating Halloween pumpkins.

The crabapple trees on municipal land near the health clinic should be removed and non-fruit bearing trees planted.

Residents and local businesses should be fined under the Wildlife Act for not removing bear attractants.

I emailed Pemberton's mayor and council recommending that Pemberton obtain provincial funding to become a Bear Smart community, but almost two weeks later I have yet to receive a reply.

The provincial government should also hire more conservation officers for the Sea to Sky corridor and ensure they have been trained on bear aversion and will enforce the Wildlife Act, including through fining violators.

Clearly, too many people still think their garbage is worth more than a bear's life.

 Louise Taylor