Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of February 8


Avalanche risk is multi-factor issue

I feel compelled to respond to a letter to the editor last week (Pique, Feb. 1) that put forth the idea that avalanche fatalities could be reduced by restricting backcountry travel to the morning hours.

The writer based this suggestion on her findings that most avalanche fatalities occur in the afternoon. She surmised a rise in temperature later in the day is the cause of avalanche accidents and wondered why professionals don't teach this easy formula — no backcountry travel in the afternoon — for avoiding avalanches.

This line of reasoning is a classic example of equating correlation with causation.

When two variables are correlated, it's tempting to assume that one variable causes the other. As ice cream sales increase, so do the number of drowning deaths. Does ice cream cause drowning? Of course not, but more ice cream is sold in the summer, which is also when more people go swimming.

It's true that warming — as sometimes occurs in the afternoon — can contribute to increasing avalanche danger. Keeping an eye out for sharply rising temperatures during the day is an important observation taught in Avalanche Skills Training courses. But there are many other variables to consider.

One obvious variable, which the ice cream-drowning example also illustrates, is numbers. Accidents increase when more people expose themselves to a hazard.

With backcountry travel, experience tells us there are more people exposed to avalanche danger in the afternoon. For example, skiers often spend the morning climbing to an objective. The ski down, which is generally in avalanche terrain, tends to occur later in the day.

Avalanche risk is a multifaceted problem, not well suited to "one-size-fits-all" solutions. Managing it requires many factors to be taken into account.

What reduces avalanche accidents is good training based on a science-based curriculum, and keeping an open mind to continued learning.

This approach is working; despite the dramatic growth in winter backcountry use, the average annual number of fatalities has remained steady. This suggests the annual fatality rate has actually declined over the past decade or so.

Avalanche Canada remains committed to providing backcountry users with programs and services based on current best practices, accurate information and helpful guidance for safely exploring our amazing winter backcountry.

Gilles Valade
Executive Director, Avalanche Canada

Where was the voice of women?

Could Whistler Real Estate Company and BlueShore Financial not find a woman's voice to add to its speaker list, which was comprised of six men? (Pique, Feb. 1, "Taking in the View from Here.")In the wake of so much well-needed and long overdue media coverage on gender inequality from far and wide, you would think that "manels" would be unacceptable in corporate marketing departments, especially as the theme of this event was "New Horizons."

At the very least, the article could point out that women's perspectives on the future of Whistler were glaringly absent. 

Erica Osburn

Just curious

I am interested in the Cheakamus Community Forest that surrounds Whistler.

I would like to learn more about the forest. How many trees have they planted in the past 10 years? How much have they logged in the past 10 years? How many improvements have they made to trails, parks, soccer fields, etc.? How much money have they made?

What contributions have been made to the Whistler community? Which local groups do they work with to contribute to the betterment of the community?

Just curious.

Peter Ackhurst
White Gold

Grants make a difference

As I am writing our applications for funding for the year ahead, I am reflecting on how fortunate we are, in our little mountain town, to have such a wonderful, active, community organization that strives to support a variety of charitable endeavours and projects — The Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW).

We have been lucky enough to receive multiple grants from the CFOW over the past eight years, and wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude.

Thanks to funding from the CFOW, we have been able to significantly grow and expand our programs, address gaps in our funding, and leverage grant money to attract other funders. Grant funding from the CFOW's Environmental Legacy Fund in 2017 allowed us to:

• carry out invasive species inventory, control and monitoring of 44 species at over 500 locations in the region; 

• interact with more than 2,000 community members through our presentations, information booths, training programs and workshops; and reach over 43,500 people with our social-media program;

• hire a student intern to join our field crew and learn about invasive species management.

This funding has helped us to raise awareness about invasive species and has been integral to controlling and preventing the spread of high-priority invasive species in Whistler and throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. So, thanks you to the CFOW board, staff and donors for developing and maintaining such meaningful grant programs that allow local non-profit organizations like ours to thrive.

Clare Greenberg
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, Whistler

Freestyle Whistler event success

The Freestyle Whistler Board would like to extend a sincere thank you to all who contributed and helped make the 2018 Timber Tour and Super Youth Freestyle Ski Competition on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains last weekend a huge success.

Mountains of thanks to Cate Webster, Seb Fremont, Colleen Ikona and the whole WB event team for helping make the event run smoothly. Well done to the judges and athletes, we admire your energy and enthusiasm.

Enormous thanks go to all our coaches for their dedication — you are inspiring role models for our young athletes. Our thanks to the tireless efforts of all volunteers who helped run the event, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks sincerely for the amazing support from the local business community, which generously donated items for the silent auction. It was a huge success and all proceeds will go towards Freestyle Whistler and its pursuit to bring excellence to freestyle skiing in our community.

To all the families that travelled to the event, thank you for coming to Whistler and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Lee-Anne van Dongen and Jenn Raffler

SCCS needs your design ideas

Spring Creek Community School is doing a 3D printing design challenge and we need ideas from the community. We are looking for design problems that are in need of a 3D-printed solution.

Design problems could include: iPad stands, missing board game pieces, Apple TV wall mounts, chess pawns, hooks, etc.

You can submit an online form to: http://zlechien.weebly.com/problem-bank---3d-printing.html, or you can email the design challenge to jkwiatkowski@sd48.bc.ca.

Please include the following information in your email: your name, your email, what organization you work for or are a part of and briefly describe the problem in need of a design solution. You could even include a picture and measurements if you want.

We will add your problem to our problem-bank page and will contact you for more information as soon as it catches the eye of one of our student designers.

Thank you for your interest in our project.

Jeannette Kwiatkowski
Grade 5/6 French immersion teacher
École Spring Creek Community School

Time to move away from fear of dementia

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. thanks the people of Whistler for their encouraging response to January's annual Alzheimer Awareness Month and to our new social awareness campaign, "I live with dementia. Let me help you understand."

Our campaign aims to spark conversations and encourage residents to see dementia differently. Stigma significantly affects the well being of local people living with dementia. In order to build a dementia-friendly society, we need to move away from fear and denial of the disease, towards awareness and understanding.

This is a very pressing health issue for our aging population. Families across British Columbia are affected by Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. Today, more than half a million Canadians have dementia and that number is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years.

Though Awareness Month is now over, you can still visit ilivewithdementia.ca. Find tips on how to be more dementia friendly, as well as resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to affect every single one of us. You can also use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.

We would like to thank our local staff and volunteers for their work.

We also appreciate the Whistler media's coverage of dementia issues. The stories help foster a better understanding of the impact this disease has on local families.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s ultimate vision is a world without dementia; that vision begins with a world where people living with the disease are welcomed, acknowledged, and included.

Working in communities throughout the province, we support, educate and advocate for people with dementia, as well as enabling research into the disease. We are part of a national federation, a leading authority on the disease in Canada.

If your family lives with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, please contact our regional Alzheimer Resource Centre at 1-866-984-8348, 1-855-984-8347 or info.northshore@alzheimerbc.org for information on support groups and the many other services we offer to assist you. You can also call the First Link Dementia Hotline at 1-800-936-6033 and visit www.alzheimerbc.org.

Vivian Tsai
Support and Education Coordinator
Alzheimer Society of B.C., North Shore and Sunshine Coast