Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of February 4th


May takes to the stage

On Jan. 21, Whistler's environmental charity AWARE was thankful to have the opportunity to host the Honourable Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, in Whistler as she gave us the inside scoop on the recent COP21 UN Climate Conference in Paris.

The event highlighted the significance of the global climate commitments made in Paris, but also put a spotlight on how reliant achieving these commitments will be on community action.

We know there were lots of people who could not attend or get tickets to this sold-out event, so we have posted a video with full presentations, photos and people's personal climate pledges online at www.awarewhistler.org/COP21report.

Our heartfelt thanks go to our keynote speaker, Elizabeth May, for making the trip to Whistler and sharing her inspiring rhetoric around climate action, placing it in the contexts of improved well-being and healthy, connected communities.

Our thanks also go to MLA Jordan Sturdy and the mayors of Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish for sharing provincial and community-scale climate action underway, and opportunities for people to get involved (also shared online at the website noted).

As always, it takes a small army to deliver a great event and our thanks go to Tourism Whistler's Conference Centre and Freeman Audio Visual for stepping up to support this community climate forum as soon as we approached them, and specifically to Amy Howells and Ed Hugill for their special care of our event.

Also, Pique Newsmagazine, Diana Mulvey of Seeds Consulting and Ruth Barrow of Whistler Creative for helping with promotions and advertising.

Thank you to Josh and Sutikem of the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre for their opening blessing of the event. Brad Kasselman of Coast Mountain Photo for being there to capture the night in pictures and to Ken Melamed for being open to using his Green Party and personal connections with May when we asked him to invite her to Whistler.

Special thanks also to all the Solutions Expo participants who were onhand to share their knowledge, experience and options for climate solutions with attendees.

Finally, I'd like to thank the AWARE Board and the more than 20 people who gave their spare time to help prepare for and host the event — whether you gave a little or a lot it all means a great deal to us, so thank you.

To the 250 people who came out for the event we ask you to spread the word and engage others to help support #S2SClimteAction for years to come.

Claire Ruddy
Executive Director
Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE)

Cooking with curiosity

I am writing in response to letters in the Pique about the new plant-based menu at Raven's Nest Cafe on Whistler Mountain.

Since the new vegetarian format was introduced to Raven's Nest in Dec. 2014, I have held a position as Lead Hand there and I love every minute of it!

Raven's Nest has been talked about greatly by the community and visitors alike, and for good reason.

As such a new and progressive move in sustainable dining through a veg format, container, we've become the target of much controversy.

Being someone who spends nearly every day in the café, I have access to data and information that is not accessible to the rest of us. So why the bold, progressive move to an all-vegetarian and vegan restaurant?

Our menu was revamped mainly in response to years of demands from our guests across the resort for healthier options on the mountain. When we look at the type of activity we're engaging in up on the slopes, it makes sense there is a need for foods that will provide healthy nutrition to support a full day of fun and exercise on the mountain.

Furthermore an incentive to go all-veg at the previously underperforming Raven's Nest came in the form of sustainability. As the food industry continues to become transparent in its farming operations, we the consumers are becoming aware of the unsustainable practices that exist within animal agriculture. By hosting a menu almost entirely free of animal products, we create a tremendously smaller carbon footprint in terms of land use, water use, methane gas emissions and much more in the way that our food is sourced.

It's a brilliant way in which we become a model restaurant in sustainability, complementing Whistler Blackcomb's similar sustainability initiatives, such as their #zerowaste recycling program.

When looking at the lack of information and inquiry of the previously published letters from skeptics, the arguments made hold no integrity.

With health and sustainability as the driving goals, we can still create a menu that is unique in a way that does very much cater to all. With exclusive items such as vegan meatballs or vegan chicken pita, we use meat analogues to cater to diets and dietary needs of all types, while providing meals that are full of flavour and much enjoyed by herbivores, carnivores and everything in between.

Having astounded even our toughest critics, like hardcore carnivores and hunters, we are quite proud to offer something for everyone.

Remember the days when the veggie burger first began to make its appearance on menus everywhere and people were disturbed and insulted that it could take the name "burger?" Today we accept a veggie burger as quite a normal thing on menus everywhere.

Looking at the menu, one sees the word vegan plastered over every single item right below a header reading all-vegetarian restaurant. In this way it is understood that we have nothing to hide and anyone who can read the menu is instantly made aware that they will be enjoying a meal free of animal meats. Therefore we proudly change the game on what vegan foods can be.

These days with the endless amounts of diet and health trends on the rise, it is no surprise that most of us have minimal information about these new kinds of sustainable and healthy food products being served.

The overwhelming amount of information penetrating all of our digital networks today has caused us to filter out much of it and stop paying attention. Couple this with the awful reputation that tofu and soy-based foods have received over the last 10 to 20 years and understandably you get a public with apprehension towards any foods that seem new and unfamiliar.

Before starting my position, I myself only had a consumer-based knowledge of the product, which felt insufficient if I was going to be selling it to restaurant guests. In pursuit of eliminating the risk of spreading misinformation, I took it upon myself to meet with Gardein in Vancouver where they hold their headquarters. The entire team was very hospitable and Yves, the founder of the company, sat down with me personally as we chatted about the food industry, nutrition, sustainability, and more.

When looking at the package of a Gardein meat product one will read: Water, GMO-free canola oil, barley, GMO-free soy protein and pea protein, carrot fibre, beetroot fibre, and more ingredients that ensure a nutritious, more natural approach to plant-based meat substitutes.

The most impressive features to these mock meats are the texture and flavour profiles that so remarkably replicate that of the animal equivalent product.

Since launching our plant-based format we have received a tremendous amount of acclaim and positive feedback both internally and externally through many avenues, including the extensive data collected by Whistler Blackcomb's quality assurance department as well as a growing collective of returning loyal visitors. Our new menu continues to fascinate and prove successful among a wide range of guests from around the globe. Consistently outperforming previous years' numbers at the Raven's Nest and introducing new exciting menu items every year, we are seeing no signs of slowing down.

I personally invite all walks of life to pay us a visit and experience it for yourself. Come on up, sample some of our exclusive and delightful meals and discover how we never have to compromise flavour in search of health and sustainability again.

Michael Sousa

Accommodation for every type

I think the proposal for cabins at the Whistler RV Park is just the thing that Whistler is missing.

Not everyone who comes to Whistler wants to stay in a resort environment. Many just want to enjoy the backcountry, whether it's ski touring, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing, and then spend the evenings in a more remote atmosphere — in nature.

Have you seen Whistler at night? Not every person's cup of tea!

Isn't this place meant to be enjoyed by everyone? At the moment, there is a big void in how accommodating Whistler actually is to different lifestyles. Especially the lifestyle that actually built this town.

B. Greenwood

Cabin fever

In response to the Whistler RV Park rezoning article in the Pique, Jan. 28, I felt compelled to respond. Not only do I think the addition of cabins at the RV Park sounds like a great idea, but I really feel that local business ideas should be supported, especially for an activity or facility that is not currently on offer in Whistler.

For anybody who's tried it, you'll know what I mean when I say: "Operating a business in Whistler is tough!" If you're not 110 per cent on your game, it's a loss leader.

Not to mention the growing carrying costs of a business and a tough economic cycle; most businesses need to diversify and look for alternate ways to generate income.

I agree with Gordon Calder (Whistler RV Park's general manager) in the article, who said that it will fill a gap in Whistler's accommodation offerings and things to do, specifically for snowmobilers.

My work demands me getting up early and every day I watch a literal train of snowmobilers heading up the highway and away from Whistler. The way I see it is that snowmobilers from around the region will have legitimate access to the backcountry and spend their dollars in town.

Offering cabins for a new demographic of visitors to the area can only be a good thing for all of us.

Adrian Moran

Easy village-to-Function traffic solution

As somebody who drives to Whistler every weekend to volunteer for Whistler Blackcomb, I am getting sick and tired of the traffic woes between the village and Function.

I am afraid to volunteer on a Sunday as it might take me as long as a hour to get from Base 2 to Function, then another 40 minutes to get home to Squamish.

Currently I am trying to only volunteer on Saturdays because there is less traffic heading south. Mind you, even this year it seems to take a lot longer than it should because it is a busier season.

I have read that it could be as long as 18 months for a study to be completed before anything might happen.

Well, I have a simple solution that could and should be in place (with no lengthy or costly study).

It's called the Olympic Lanes.

Who remembers the Olympic Lanes? A traffic study was done prior the 2010 Olympics and it was deemed that they install (overhead traffic control lights) like those going over the Lions Gate Bridge and through Stanley Park. Those lanes were a huge success and should never have been removed. If anything, they should have been updated with proper signage. I remember a lot of people saying those lanes should be made to stay with upgrades. These would also be helpful during the summer months and on long weekends too.

So I have an idea: Let's not do any more studies. Let's reopen that traffic study that they did some eight to 10 years ago and get these lanes going in time for next winter.

Let's get traffic (control) lights installed like they have on the Lions Gate Bridge. Get the lines on the highway and get the traffic rolling more quickly in time for next year.

This is an easy village to Function traffic solution.

Who's with me on this?

Gord Gunner

Teck Nordic race success

Thank you to all who contributed to a very successful race up at Whistler Olympic Park this weekend. There were close to 250 racers registered for the classic race, with skiers of all ages out on the course having fun.

This race would not happen without Suki Cheyne, our wonderful race secretary, and our very qualified chiefs: thanks to Gwendolyn Kennedy (timing), Theresa Oswald (course), and Dave Kirk (stadium). Thank you to Valerie Sicotte and her family for preparing all the food and providing all the volunteers with Whistler Chocolate at the end of their shifts.

Thanks to some of our "assistant" chiefs that came and shared their technical knowledge and dedication to the sport: Delores Los, Cros Doak, Jeanette Callaghan, Bert Ionson, David Morris and Lawrence Taylor.

Toshi from Sea to Sky Photography volunteered his talent and provided us with the most amazing photographs.

I am overwhelmed by the support we get from parents and skiers who no longer have kids skiing in the program but nevertheless come back and help every year. It was all a real joy to meet some new vollies from Whistler Nordics, but also the many from Spud Valley, Sea to Sky, Hollyburn and Nordic race clubs. I hope you all saw how much fun everyone had and that we have inspired you to volunteer next year and share the experience to continue to make family-friendly racing possible in the corridor.

I'd also like to acknowledge Urszula and Simon and all those from Whistler Sports Legacies that pitched in to make the day a huge success.

Teck was the race's sponsor, providing bibs and awards as part of their commitment to developing the sport.

Thanks to Nesters for providing all of the food for both racers and vollies, and to Starbucks for the hot chocolate and coffee for volunteers.

The continued support from these sponsors year after year is much appreciated!

The next big race up at WOP is the Sigge's Payak. See you all there, either racing or volunteering!!

Margot Murdoch
WN TECK Coast Cup #2 Chief of Race

If you can't say something nice...

Several weeks ago one of your columnists began an article by saying, "Anything" followed by "that is, anything but Harper."

In a later Pique, the same person described former Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the worst prime minister ever. 

Ironic isn't it, what with the recent praise from The Davos World Economic Forum that Canada is second only to Germany as the second best country in the world — now there seems little to support these insulting statements.

Mr. Harper, "the worst PM ever," must have had something to do with this: indeed, he did much of the heavy lifting. 

Further, if he were so odious and incompetent, how is it that the Conservative government, other than at the last election, received a similar percentage of the national vote as the Liberals did in October. And even in that election, a significant number of voters supported him.

With the constant criticism of Mr. Harper in office, frequently offensive stridence was perhaps to be expected, but for it to be raised almost weekly since he left office in your magazine is boorish spitefulness and irritating to many voters. Surely journalists can remember their parents telling them, "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing."

Silvia Tindall
Spruce Grove, Whistler

Highway monitoring needs resources

With regards to the new law put in place giving police the ability to hand out tickets to drivers abiding the speed limit, but based on weather conditions is a pile of crap.

This is why: A police officers job is to enforce the law and not to play judge. Laws are created by the courts and unless the court judges are going to drive around handing out tickets to drivers in adverse weather conditions abiding the posted speed limits not a single ticket will stand up in court.

The real problem with the sea to sky highway is the lack of police presence, and winter tire checks. Put all the new, made-up laws you want, people will continue to drive dangerously unless there is a police presence.

This is not a dig on the RCMP — they are doing the best they can with the resources they have. The problem is the lack of resources to police the highway.

I turn to the government and ask why?

Jody Poulton

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