Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of February 6

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Fossil-fuel companies need to be held accountable

I am writing to say that I appreciate G.D. Maxwell raising the issue of climate change; however, I do not agree that the fossil-fuel companies should not be held to account ("Maxed Out," Pique, Jan. 23).

I was on council when the decision was made to send a letter to the fossil-fuel companies requesting accountability and it is one of the decisions that I am proud of (unlike supporting CNG buses with the subsequent expansion of natural gas infrastructure in Whistler and allowing developments that included outdoor heaters).

All of us should make changes, but the range of options available to us have been limited to some degree by the actions of the fossil-fuel companies that have known about the impacts of their products for some time, and some of which have delayed progress.

Companies work to make a profit and because the costs of climate change are paid by others, the fossil-fuel companies have no reason to change their decision-making systems.

Municipal costs of climate change include the impacts of a changed climate, increases in catastrophic events, increased insurance costs, GHG reduction programs and enacting climate change adaptation measures.

These costs are significant.

Think of how much Whistler has spent on FireSmart programs alone, not to mention flood measures, tourism planning for future winter weather, water conservation and many other aspects that are directly related to climate change or exacerbated by it.

Companies need to include these costs in their decision-making in order for the system to change to one that works towards solutions for climate change rather than one that continues to reward companies for externalizing those costs and increasing our climate liabilities.

To follow Max's analogy, we should hold the candy makers to account if they knew that candy was problematic, that it impacted not just the candy eaters but the whole globe, covered up these facts, funded groups to deny that candy was a problem, worked to ensure that alternates to candy were not available, intensely lobbied the governments to ensure candy sales could increase and to get subsidies to make more candy, funded political parties with the intent to increase candy sales and thwarted action to address candy sales at every global meeting on this issue.

While we all need to make changes, we also need to look at where the overall system has failed us and correct those aspects.

Since climate change denial is no longer effective, it seems like the next defence the fossil-fuel companies are using is guilt.

Let's move beyond this since to exist in Canada is to cause GHGs and get to rectifying the systems. Incorporating the downstream costs of a product into the producers' costs is one square of a whole, big quilt we will need to address this issue. 

Another will be changing federal, provincial and municipal policies. For those interested in working to reduce fossil fuel use, Stand Earth has started the SAFE Cities movement (Stand Against Fossil Fuel Expansion) to push for changes and support politicians in this as well. See www.stand.earth/SAFE for more info.

Sue Maxwell // Whistler

Feds must say no to tarsands development

(This letter was sent to Sea to Sky Liberal MP Patrick Weiler and Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and shared with Pique.)

I am certain that you know all of the data associated with the [Frontier Project] tarsands enlargement proposed by Teck Resources, and encouraged by the Government of Alberta. This proposal means that Canada cannot possibly meet its commitments to the Paris Accord, and I expect that I need not go on about it.

What I hope you are also considering is the consequences for both of your ridings, and for a future of liberal thought and decision making in British Columbia, if you succumb to the pressure to approve of this project.

In my riding (Sea to Sky) some 71 per cent voted for candidates that had a climate crisis action plan. The numbers are similar, if a little less, in North Vancouver.

In my own experience, these voters care about their own actions toward the environment, recycle, want a plastics-reduced world, are excited about a move to electric cars even if they have not made the move, and certainly understand the threat of more change to Sea to Sky where our summertime temperature is already up by considerably more than the anticipated 1.5 C.

None of the actions that an individual can take, even as a collective, will mitigate the near doubling of the tarsands as proposed by the Alberta government and Teck. An approval of this project will send the message to your voters that we will consider climate change some years along the line—perhaps when it is too late.

An approval may be so discouraging that I believe it will mean that many will forgo personal actions and revert to older ways. Why buy an electric car when our carbon footprint will go way up anyway?

Discouraged voters sometimes just get complacent.

Some of your political analysts may compute that you both have sufficient margins to survive this, and perhaps that both the NDP and Greens are indeed unelectable here.

However, a discouraged centre and left-of-centre in any riding can easily mean that the right (in this case the Conservatives) will win enough of a majority to take a riding. For the already-upon-us climate crisis even a short term of a Conservative government is likely to cost us the narrow window we have to avert a much bigger problem than we already have.

Please, please help your colleagues understand that we cannot encourage individual Canadians to care about the environment and specifically the climate if the government does not take the big steps.

Please stop the Teck proposal. You do have the necessary support. 

Alan G. Whitney // Whistler

An accident waiting to happen

There is a terrible accident just waiting to happen on Highway 99 at Nairn Falls. 

Doubtless it would also be tragic, as children would inevitably be involved.

Some years ago, the powers that be decided to build a parking lot at the entrance to the falls to benefit the hordes of tourists who trek in to see our equivalent of Niagara. Now that it's winter, whoever is in charge has locked the gate to the parking lot, forcing skiers and winter visitors to park along the short entrance road and out onto the highway.

Admittedly, they open the gates for the weekly jackrabbits ski sessions, but for the rest of the time, the parking is haphazard and dangerous.

Meantime, the new parking lot sits empty.

They'll probably tell us that the parking lot is too difficult to plow but a number of volunteers have offered their services to do this. Many of us have seen cars parked in the snow at the entrance to the falls with young children frolicking around. 

What are the authorities going to say when one of these precious little people are no more?

That it was too much hassle to unlock the gate and plowing the parking lot was simply out of the question?

Nigel Mathews // Pemberton

Pemberton Library Thanks Retiring Board Members 

The recent Pemberton Library AGM, held Jan. 28, marked the retirement of several of our trustees, including Judith Walton and Cindy Filipenko. 

Judith and Cindy joined the board at the same time. They were both vital members of the board who saw the library through many changes.

Judith served as chair for six of the eight years on the board. She has brought her heart and soul to the library. All your experience and dedication will be missed. 

Cindy served on the board for eight years. Through those years, she served as vice chair and was our resident wordsmith. Your way with words and passion for the library will be missed, along with your contagious laughter. 

With the close of 2019, we also see the departure of Meg Gallop. Meg has served on the board on and off for 30 years. We thank all these people for their time and effort in making the library the hub of the community. 

And finally, we wish to express our gratitude to our library director Emma Gillis for all the work she does to support the trustees. 

We look forward to another incredible year at the library.

Carmen Praine, chair of the PDPL Board // Pemberton

Mathletes say thanks

We are lucky to live in a strong, supportive community.

And on behalf of the mathletes on the Math Team at WSS, I just wanted to say thanks to Creekbread and the community for our recent fundraiser—people like Whistler Golf Club, Dr. Andrea Bologna and Whistler Pilates always say "yes" right away whenever we ask for donations.

We were fundraising for the Whistler Secondary School (WSS) Math Contest Scholarship. As well, we are saving to be able to travel again to compete in the Canadian Math Team Competition in Waterloo.

We hope to have enough to be able to compete in 2021.

We are really grateful for regular community support from Nesters, Blenz, Whistler Source for Sports, Samurai Sushi, Escape Whistler, Vail Resorts, Coast Mountain Photography and Nicklaus North Golf Course.

We are also grateful to new supporters this year including All Seasons Grill, Fresh St. Market and Vallea Lumina.

We recognize that Whistler is a small community, so the support of these businesses is even more notable as they get asked for donations all the time.

We especially want to thank all the parents, staff and friends of WSS that came out to our event. We are really grateful for their support and feel very lucky to live in such a supportive and enthusiastic community. 

Thanks so much from all of the WSS mathletes! Go Storm!

Gina Mollicone-Long // Whistler