Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of February 19th


All hail the groomers

Let's face it — the grooming department on Whistler and Blackcomb has been doing an awesome job of getting and keeping the runs on both mountains in really good shape these last few weeks.

Despite everything that Mother Nature is throwing at us, the guys and girls out there in the afternoon and night shift have been able to fill in and cover over — with duct tape and baling wire — so the mountain is fresh and corduroyed (is that a word?) first thing in the morning. The product is smiley faced and ready to receive its customers.

Talk about making a silk purse! We should raise a drink to those people. Turn on the lights and crank the tunes and let 'em rip.

Colin Pitt-Taylor


Banana bread karma

In previous ski seasons, I was occasionally seduced by delicious and sizable banana bread slices sold in Whistler Blackcomb cafeterias on the hill, even if that was a no-no for my health situation.

This season I noticed that Whistler Blackcomb has hiked the price and at the same time significantly reduced the size of a banana bread slice, thus joining in the marketing business practice of shrinking toilet paper rolls, shrinking candy bars, reducing airplane leg space and many other product re-sizing, or quality downgrading, where producers try to obscure price hikes to reduce costs and increase profits.

As a consumer who detests such practices, I would like to publicly thank Whistler Blackcomb for contributing to my health by motivating me to never, well, nearly never again buy its banana bread.

There is another side to this: I believe in fate and that things in the universe are interconnected. The human race and nature have symbiotic relationship, learning from each other, although the humans often act as parasites and sooner or later get punished.

So, whoever up there in the sky is responsible for producing snow, some say it is Ullr, must have seen this human neoliberal business practice and thought: "How cool, I can increase the dividends to my Supreme Shareholder in the form of more prayers if I just downsize the product."

And so, here we are with the worst ski season since I moved to Whistler nearly a decade ago, all thanks to banana bread.

Drago Arh


Dear Snow...

I miss you very much. We all miss you very much. It was Valentine's Day last weekend and I forgot to send you a card and chocolates.

I have a very good feeling no one else in Whistler sent you a card either. I'm sure you are feeling you are not loved. Please accept my apologies. Please accept all of our apologies. It will not happen again. You are loved and adored in our little village.

All of us in Whistler miss you. You are the life of the party. You make us laugh. You bring out the very best in each of us. When you are in town it is a non-stop party. It is very hard to keep up that party spirit without you.

You have left us for the East Coast of this great continent, and on behalf of the entire village of Whistler we would do anything to have you back.

Our kids cannot build snowmen or go snow sliding. Our snowshoe paths are mud, and most of our cross-country trails closed.

No one has given up on you.

You should have seen the number of people that showed up this weekend to hang out with you on the slopes. They played in the snow you left six weeks ago and talked fondly of the good years together.

Whistler Blackcomb has done an amazing job of stretching your white gold into every corner they can.

Anytime you want to come back we are here for you — with open arms and a true and renewed appreciation for all you have done for us.

Thinking of you and wishing you much love and happiness.

Kee Cronin


Bad behaviour deserves a consequence

I'm a Whistler Nordics member and cross country enthusiast. It has come to my attention that articles in the Pique and the Question about Lost Lake trails have been bouncing around the newspapers.

Some of them are almost embarrassingly misinformed, or not thought over. I would like to point out a few errors in these articles using the magical power of logic.

In the Nick Davies article (in the Question) of Feb. 3 he talks about global warming and how it affects the ski trails, and how the Lost Lake trails should be opened up to fat bikers, hikers and dogs. (Reading it one might think he is then suggesting that people)... should hop in their gas-guzzling cars and spew exhaust all over the highway for 30 minutes — each way — to the Olympic Park (at the Callaghan) in order to get their exercise.

Surely this is not the answer to a global warming problem? One of the joys that I have is being able to go to the Lost Lake trails, do a loop or two, and then go into Cross Country Connection (at the Passivhaus) for a warm snack.

I can walk or take public transport to Lost Lake Park. I certainly can't take the bus to the Olympic Park and it would not be worth my time to do (that for) less than an hour of skiing.

I do agree with Mr. Davies that if dogs are allowed on the trail there will be "poo," and if there are walkers there will be holes. Skate skiing when there are ruts from bikes and boots is literally impossible, even for skilled skiers. It usually freezes at night and those ruts become killers for the morning ski.

I have seen plenty of novices out there who come to Whistler for the experience of cross-country skiing, and making Lost Lake a multi-use trail would ruin that.

Whether it is multi-use or paid, there has to be grooming. Who pays for that? I know that the revenue from tickets pays for the fun that everyone enjoys on the Valley Trail multi-use groomed trails.

In the Pique, editor Clare Ogilvie says that people are complaining that places like Kitzbuhel have free trail systems.

It seems that they are ignoring the fact that there are free groomed trails that you can also walk and take your dog on in Whistler that the municipality grooms.

I enjoy those too with my dog. Why look over the fence and covet thy neighbour's trail? For as long as I have lived here there have been paid trails that the municipality can be proud of.

And it is not a "single activity" as Mr. Davies states. The Lost Lake trails are also home of great snowshoeing trails. With marked trails people don't get lost.

I'm at the Cross Country Connection a lot and I see really happy people who have just come in from an amazing experience — because there are volunteers greeting them, marked trails, and patrol, they feel safe. They are still happy even after they have paid because they get their money's worth.

It seems from the articles that it is only locals who do not want to pay anything and get everything.

When adults are trying to stop bad behavior they take away your allowance, or keep you after school. Why do adults think that they can push volunteers, or walk where they are asked not to without some form of penalty?

When you speed you get a fine. If you're inconsiderate enough to ignore the request to not walk in Lost Lake Park when there are hundreds of acres around to walk to your heart's content, it seems just logical that a fine should be paid.

Word of mouth seems not to work with people who do not care.

Orion Denroche (13)


Can't we all just get along?

Whistler, the place we all choose to call home. One of the best, if not the best, resort for sport and living in the world.

With lots of room to excel and progress in the terrain parks and backcountry, I think some of us forget about the tourists and beginners who, for a majority of the time, are using that small percentage of the mountain with slow zones.

While you're hooking it off the mountain next time, just remember that you were once that beginner, or maybe think of your parents, or grandparents who would just want to enjoy themselves without the chance of being taken out by a speeding rider in a slow zone.

Just like with riding on the rest of the mountain, here are a few general park etiquette rules:

• Don't be that rider who is sitting or standing in the wrong spot — landing/take offs.

• Call your drop in to a feature — it'll prevent you from getting snaked most of the time.

• Most importantly, the park changes every day. Take a lap or two to check out every feature to see if it changed or not.

• With riding on the mountain comes a great deal of respect and responsibility. Respect the boundaries and have the knowledge and proper equipment for riding in the backcountry, be aware of your surroundings and respect others around you.

At the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for our actions on the mountain is ourselves.

Make those little changes in your ride out to slow down in the slow zones, or to call your drop in the terrain park.

It'll make everyone else's experience that much more enjoyable. Let's put this bad weather behind us and hope for something we can all agree on, SNOW!

Shane Hutman



Fear is that feeling of when I can't take my eyes off something while at the same time a voice is telling me to run for my life.

If I turn away then something is lost, but if I face it then its power over me diminishes.

The experience of overcoming fear by believing in myself is the rush.

Being fearless is the thoughtful act of stepping into the unknown and trusting myself. A nervous energy is always present, but it serves to raise awareness and provide the instincts with which to navigate the challenge.

From high-risk adventure to high-risk employment the scariest thing I ever did was fall in love.

Go figure.

Paul Hookham


Coast Cup XC ski race thank you

Every year I'm amazed at the enthusiasm and support we receive when we host a Coast Cup race and this year was no exception.

Saturday's race would not have had snow to race on without the volunteers and Whistler Olympic Park staff who braved torrential rain on Thursday and Friday to repair and make the course ready for race day. And what a great day of racing we had!

Mother Nature was not kind leading up to race day, but Saturday gave the best conditions we could have hoped for. We had 200 racers registered for the races, the course held up and after a brief delay before the medal ceremony everyone left tired and happy.

The results were posted online on Zone 4. Well done everyone! Coast Cup #2 race results have also been posted to WebScorer; younger skiers in each category can see how they're doing against others their age.

Photos courtesy of Toshi Kawano of Sea to Sky Photography can be found online on our website, more to come from Joern Rohde later this week... www.whistlernordics.com.

Thank you all for making the day so much fun, we had new volunteers from several clubs learning the ropes from the more experienced team leads, and although we were short on volunteers we had fantastic support in the stadium, race office, at the start and finish line, out on course, at the food stations, providing first aid, and once again Jennifer our young MC did a great job keeping everyone motivated and informed!

There are some volunteers who have been working hard behind the scenes who deserve special recognition — this event would not happen without them: Margot Murdoch, chief of race; gwendolyn Kennedy, chief of timing inside; Crosland Doak, chief of timing outside; Dave Kirk, chief of stadium, and Theresa Oswald, chief of course.

These crucial roles require knowledge and expertise that is gathered over several events/years and we are lucky to have their knowledge in our community.

We encourage all parents of racers to sign-up as volunteers next year, so they too can learn the ropes because this super-star team will not always be available — let's start future-proofing our volunteer pool.

Thank you too to all the staff at Whistler Olympic Park for delivering a course and venue despite some of the most challenging weather conditions we've ever experienced. 

Race day was made extra special by our sponsors: Teck for the event sponsorship, as well as Whistler Chocolate, Andrea Peiffer and Starbucks for fuelling the volunteers, and Nesters for fuelling the racers! 

Now let's hope for snow so we can get back on XC skis again!

Suki Cheyne

Coast Cup Race Secretary

Whistler Nordics

Bridge needs to carry horses too

It was with disbelief that I read in the Feb. 12 Pique that Pemberton Village is looking at excluding the Pemberton and Lil'wat Nation horse community from the Friendship Bridge because of the difference in cost of the height of the railings, construction and maintenance.

How ironic that the Friendship Trail is being built to demonstrate inclusiveness, but will potentially seek to exclude a large segment of our community.

Horse owners in the Pemberton area comprise a hefty percentage of the tax base.

The SLRD contributed $71,343 and much of that money would have come from the horse owners of the community.

It is imperative that the large, and growing, horse community be accommodated on the Friendship Bridge.

Brenda Williams


We learn from our mistakes

The level of vitriol directed at the young snowboarder, Julie Abrahamsen, who was rescued after what must have been a harrowing ordeal, has me dismayed, surprised and annoyed.

It may appear that these people begrudge Julie Abrahamsen her survival.

Have these people forgotten that they were once young? Has their behaviour always been above reproach? Have they at some time in their life driven a vehicle after having consumed any alcohol, or been a passenger in a vehicle where the driver had consumed some alcohol?

Did they ever run a red light, or proceed through an intersection long after the lights had changed to amber?

Did they ever make a left turn while driving when a slight delay could have resulted in an accident?

Have they ever skied, or ridden, in a manner that did, or could have, endangered the safety of another?

If they have done any of the preceding then their behaviour has been much worse than that of young Ms. Abrahamsen. Furthermore, if while driving, they had a sip or a gulp of coffee, water or other liquid refreshment then their eyes, and their attention, would have been off the road while their vehicle covered a distance in the range of 150 (46 metres) to 500 feet (150 metres) for speeds from 30 km/h to 80 km/h respectively? Who then has been guilty of the greater transgression?

We have all made mistakes and some of us have taken risks where we were lucky to have survived.

Someone once said that good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment. I believe that we really only acquire new knowledge and gain experience after we have made a mistake.

Yes, I have met people who thought that they have made only one mistake in life, and it was the time when they thought they were wrong.

We, in Whistler and elsewhere, owe a deep debt of gratitude to the members of The search and rescue teams, which, on receiving a call, drop what they are doing, leave family and friends and head off in their quest to find and rescue people.

It is time each of us did our part to reduce the demands on their time and energy.  

In surviving her ordeal, Julie Abrahamsen, had courage, employed survival skills, the will to survive, and innate smartness.

We should all be glad that there was a positive outcome to the search and rescue mission.

Perhaps, when she has time, this young woman can provide some lessons learned, through her survival, from mindset to behaviour.

Keith Fernandes


Re: Balancing Security and Individual Rights

The new anti-terrorism Bill C-51 has sparked much debate, both across Canada, and in our community. The debate has touched upon a prevailing theme in democracy: the tension between security and individual rights, specifically, freedom of expression.

The new law would bring about at least three changes designed to increase the security of Canadians in a world which has just seen the attacks in France, Australia, Belgium, and, of course, here at home, in St. Jean Sur Richelieu and Ottawa.

A government's most important duty is to ensure its people's security. That is the paramount intention of Bill C-51.

The bill specifically attempts to prevent terrorist travel, disrupt planned attacks on Canadian soil, and criminalize the incitement of terrorism. It also expands the powers of Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to "disrupt" suspected terrorist threats.

The proposed legislation includes checks and balances to ensure it respects the rights of Canadians. Some have criticized the Bill as "not enough," others say it goes too far.

Like most Canadians, I believe in the protection of our freedoms and liberties, a belief that ties in to our common-law protections going back to the Magna Carta, and what motivated Canadians to fight in two World Wars.

This belief motivated myself, with others, to create the Canadian Constitution Foundation, to stand up for individuals whose rights are menaced by overreaching governments.

But who stands for the right of anyone to promote terrorism?

Meanwhile, the Charter, our courts, and organizations like the Canadian Constitution Foundation are all there to prevent governments from using anti-sedition laws merely as tools to put down political opposition.

Surely, knowing what we know about the metastasizing of terrorism, we have to take measures to stop the violence before it starts?

In a world in which violent enemies are constantly changing, our government needs to be nimble, and to adapt our laws in response to evolving challenges.

Bill C-51 tries to arrive at a correct balance.

Meanwhile, the healthy debate will always pit security against individual liberties to a certain extent. But, in a sense, there is no conflict; the two objectives — security and freedom — are not really in conflict; rather, they are co-dependent. Without one, we cannot have the other.

John Weston

M.P. West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country