Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of February 23rd

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Current solutions not working

The feature "Sharing Snow" completely misses out on how self-propelled backcountry skiers fit into the backcountry powder sweepstakes (Pique, Feb.16).

Compared to helicopters, snowcats and snowmobiles, backcountry skiers have a very limited ability to find alternative terrain, making them the most vulnerable user group.

On Rainbow and Sproatt Mountains next to Whistler, this conflict has been continuing despite a government order closing 21 Mile Creek to snowmobiling, a signage and public education campaign and periodic enforcement by the RCMP.

Despite this effort, a few snowmobilers continue to ride in the closed watershed on a regular basis. A few snowmobilers can quickly track out an entire area, turning it into a network of deep interconnected ruts that are unpleasant, if not dangerous, to ski.

I expect the proposed controlled recreation areas (CRAs) for commercial operators will play out just like the 21 Mile Creek closure has. The (indifferent/malicious) snowmobilers will continue to ride in the CRAs, and nobody will be able to stop them.

Even if violations are reported promptly, the RCMP will be unable to differentiate the law-abiding snowmobilers from the rule breakers. Recently introduced ORV licence plates are inadequate for identifying snowmobiles from a reasonable distance, so there is no accountability for the snowmobilers who break the rules.

The current solutions are clearly not working, so if this problem is really going to be solved, then something bigger is needed.

We need to either dramatically step up enforcement, or come up with new, easier-to-enforce boundaries.

At Rainbow and Sproatt Mountains, this could be achieved with a full closure of the area to public snowmobilers, which would allow effective enforcement to be conducted at a couple of parking lots rather than along the length of a 10-kilometre long, ridge-top boundary up on the mountain.

Scott Nelson
Vancouver

Highway greatest Games benefit

What's happening in Brazil with the post-Olympic venues is no doubt a disgrace, and one can reasonably wonder what lasting benefit there will be to Brazil and question whether a country with such poverty and systemic issues should have spent billions of dollars on the Games.

By contrast, you mention a number of the lasting benefits the (2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic) Games have had in Whistler, including the Athletes' Village ("The five-ring circus continues," Pique, Feb.16).

What you didn't mention, though, is something that I would consider the biggest lasting benefit of them all to Whistler, namely, the greatly improved Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler. For the road alone, I would consider the 2010 Games to be a huge success.

I am a frequent visitor to Whistler from the States and have owned a home here for the past 14 years. The difference that road has made in making Whistler safer and more accessible to visit is dramatic. I don't have the data but I would bet it has had a huge positive impact on tourism to Whistler. The new road has made it so that less-adventurous drivers can safely and confidently make it to Whistler. 

And the improved road benefits Sea to Sky locals, too, not just tourists. How much time has been saved driving between Whistler and Squamish or Vancouver? Or how many lives have been saved, or overall stress reduced?

The old road could freak out less-experienced drivers, who drove slowly or unpredictably, which caused too many other drivers to take unsafe chances to pass or otherwise get frustrated.   

The old nightmarish, extraordinarily dangerous road has been domesticated into a viable conduit. All those road closures and inconveniences while doing the roadwork were worth it. The new road has made such an improvement for all of us, from the less-experienced tourists to the Sea to Sky locals.

I have great memories from the Games in Whistler. The spirit of camaraderie was electric. Having the world, and the world's greatest winter athletes, in our home was a feeling I'll always remember.

And most of all, every time I drive up or drive back to the States, I am thankful for the safer, improved road.

Brad Silverberg
Seattle/Whistler

PSS benefits from WB foundation grant

Pemberton Secondary School would like to send a huge thank you to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation for its generous grant to the school.

The grant money was used to purchase new rolling bookcases for the school library, as well as a set of transceivers for the outdoor program.

We appreciate the continued contribution of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation in supporting our students' learning opportunities.

Krista Brynjolfson
Pemberton Secondary School

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