Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of January 28th


Two thumbs up to WB

In reading last week's article in Pique (Jan.21), "WB Women Encouraged to Rise Through the Ranks," I was very excited to see Whistler Blackcomb upper management take such a healthy position on this very important issue.

We can all "Lean In" to our careers as much as possible, but at the same time we need mentorship and opportunity — especially in the predominantly male environment of corporate Canada and America.

As a professional engineer who has lived in Whistler for over 20 years, and has had my own engineering firm for 12 years, it has been my privilege to witness, and be motivated by, great women in leadership roles in this community — such as an MLA, an MP, a mayor, the leader of a First Nations band, the head of Tourism Whistler and the (former) owner/publisher of Pique, Kathy Barnett.

And let's not forget the many successful female real estate agents who are at the top of their game, and the business owners of physiotherapy clinics, landscape companies, media companies, caterers, chefs, interior designers and architects — the list is long and prestigious.

As for my own humble engineering firm (the only female firm in the whole Sea to Sky corridor) — it would never have been possible without the mentorship and an opportunities given to me from the Matheo Durfelds, Tom Brophys, Mick Gannons, Mike Hawes, Jon Paines and Eric Martins of Whistler construction community.

I sincerely thank you all. Whistler Blackcomb — the professional gene pool in this town is long and deep. Dive in — you will be pleasantly surprised that maybe you didn't have to go far to find the right woman for the job!

Melissa McKay, P.Eng.

Let's look for solutions

I'd like to congratulate Claire Ruddy and her team at AWARE on organizing such a crucial opportunity for Whistler residents to be involved and informed on a local and Canadian level through the Jan. 21 event with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, our Sea to Sky mayors and MLA Jordan Sturdy,

May impressed immensely with her passion and knowledge on what we all should realize, is the key discourse of our time: protecting our "home" as she so wonderfully put it.

It's a grandiose goal, to hope that everyone could look at the planet as our home — with tourists and locals alike applying our love for our immediate environments whereever we visit globally, but there is a detachment that is hard to tackle.

It was clear that in order to change individual and societal practices, so that we incur less of an impact on the environment and prevent the global temperature average increasing by 1.5 degrees, huge changes would be needed.

The best way to do so is either via incentivizing or penalizing strategies it seems.

I was therefore incredibly frustrated and disappointed that MLA Sturdy followed May's Q&A session with a load of political fluff, void of any case studies or specific examples, meant to appease an audience clearly attending to seek knowledge about B.C.'s ability to help lower the greenhouse gas emission target Canada has agreed to with the United Nations.

We came as a group of concerned citizens looking for take-aways and guidance and we left feeling underwhelmed by our local reps after an inspiring and frightening presentation by May. Where was the Q&A with our local reps? I felt robbed of a key opportunity.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman gave clear examples of what Squamish was undertaking to do its part, but Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden followed Sturdy's disappointing vein by failing to deliver any specific examples of what Whistler was looking to implement to create real change.

Both Wilhelm-Morden and Sturdy said vaguely that they had targets for 2030 and 2050.

May clearly said the time for debating was long passed, the time for action is now and your local constituents are looking to you to make the tough changes needed. We wanted to know what Whistler is doing and what we can do individually. Maybe Wilhelm-Morden could publish a follow up in the Pique with all the things she didn't say?

I'm no Elon Musk (CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and co-chairman of OpenAI) and I, of course, partake in the consumerist lifestyle that is furthering our planet's environmental problems, though I endeavour to do better — but we need community-wide solutions. You call five cents a plastic-bag penalty? What about San Francisco's plastic-less water? Can Whistler adopt similar water filling stations? More community food-growing programs and workshops? Semi-regulated car-pooling?

Pemberton mayor Mike Richman reiterated that we need to punch above our weight as Canadians, and I couldn't agree more as a wannabe Canadian.

Our ski bum community built on rocket scientists and over-educated personnel, here for the epitome of an active lifestyle, are certainly forward thinkers. Let's create solutions and implement them ASAP.

Laura Hanlon

Sharing may be key to keeping chefs? Labour shortage in Whistler/kitchens

I have noticed something while working in kitchens on and off in Whistler (mostly on) since 2008. There is a huge shortage in good, qualified chefs that work in this town. I personally believe that is caused by the difference in pay between servers, bartenders and cooks.

I have been cooking for 15 years now. I went to the Auckland University of Technology and got a diploma in culinary arts. I've worked all round the world in kitchens and on yachts.

But I feel now, with the way tipping is evolving (most people tip upwards of 20 per cent) the North American model is totally skewed to favour the front of house.

Maybe 30 years ago it would have been pretty even with menu prices being lower. But over the years menu prices have probably gone up close to five per cent a year, meaning the servers' pay has been increasing by five per cent per year. Whereas chefs' pay probably increases around one per cent a year.

Many servers still don't want to tip out the kitchen at all, so all the tips get kept by the front of house. I'm not saying they don't deserve to make the money they do, but it just doesn't seem (fair).

Some servers at my work will make $70,000 (mostly tax free — people usually declare around 10 per cent of tips).

So what's to keep people from moving out of kitchens? Passion? Yes, some of the Whistler workforce of cooks love to do it. But generally there are just a lot of people just doing what they can, which is totally fine. But over time that isn't going to mean you will keep a lot of staff.

The tipping out schedule in Whistler, and Canada, needs to be addressed, as the gap is only going to get bigger and bigger.

Bevan Garrett

The truth is out there

In response to the cover feature Pique ran Jan. 21 I wanted to share that in 2013, PhD candidate, Tone Bere of the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, asked in ''Mechanisms of injuries in World Cup alpine skiing" (March 2013), why one out of every three elite alpine skiers is injured during the five month ski season.

Bere's research found that ACL injuries that occur before a fall, or without falling, develop rapidly due to high skiing speeds and that there is no single solution that will prevent them.

This is due to the presence of phantom torques on the outside leg of a turn that can bend and rotate the leg and shear off the ACL far faster than current binding technologies can detect, let alone react to.

The predisposition of a skier to knee sprains is exacerbated by the fact that tightly fitted rigid plastic ski boots transfer the forces of skiing up the leg to the knee. The tighter, more precise the fit, the greater the transfer of forces from the ski to the knee. 

Prior to the widespread acceptance of the new rigid, plastic ski boot in the early '70s, knee injuries in skiing were rare. Broken legs occupied centre stage. The introduction of the safety release binding changed that.

But the jubilation from the dramatic decline in broken legs had barely subsided when a worse problem began to emerge — severe knee sprains, especially to the ACL.

Contrary to what many believe, there has never been support in sound principles of science for the idea of clamping the foot and leg in what amounts to an orthopedic splint and then attaching a large lever to the boot and applying stress to it.

When the authoritative Shoe In Sport was published in 1987, preeminent experts... raised red flags about the effect of the new ski boots on knee injuries. Dr. M. Pfeiffer of Institute for the Athletic Science spoke from the literal epicenter of the ski world at University of Salzburg when he said, "The ski boot and its shaft must be adapted to the technical skill of the skier, and the technical skills of the skier must be adapted to the preexisting biomechanical functions of the leg and the foot."

His comments were intended to spur the development of a ski boot designed along anatomical principles, a goal that remains to be achieved even today.

Meantime, Dr. E. Stussi, member of GOTS, chief of Biomechanical Laboratory ETH stated, "Improvements in the load acting on the ankle (meaning a tighter fitting boot) make it very likely that the problems arising in the rather delicate knee joint will increase." In other words, Dr. Stussi stated that if the industry kept improving the fit of ski boots, knee injuries would increase.

But the industry kept right on improving the fit of the ski boot and knee injuries increased exactly as Dr. Stussi had predicted. Rather than heed the warnings of experts like Dr Stussi and Dr. Pfeiffer, the industry represented the perfect fit, as the Holy Grail with the apparent end objective of transferring 100 per cent of the potentially injurious forces of skiing to the knee, 

In 1991, at the request of Canada's most successful alpine skier, Steve Podborski, I agreed to try and develop a new ski boot. But I agreed on the condition that we would do the prudent and responsible thing, engage scientists with the appropriate expertise to provide oversight and guidance.

My mission was to develop a ski boot that made skiing easier, but more importantly, made skiing safer. Podborski had competed and won in 1980 on some of the world's most difficult downhill courses mere months after reconstructive knee surgery using an innovative in-boot technology I had invented.

It reduced the stress on his knee to the point where he could compete and win whereas that was impossible with a conventional boot. I knew I was headed in the right direction.

But I wanted accredited experts to confirm that I was. Our company, spent close to $140,000 on studies intended to prove or disprove my theory. The studies proved my theory to be correct.

In 1995, I was nominated for the gold medal in the categories of applied science and engineering in the B.C. Science and Engineering Awards by the industrial technology advisor to the National Research Council of Canada. In order to go forward, a nomination must garner support from a candidate's peers in the field. In his letter of support, Dr. Robert Colborne, assistant Professor of Anatomy at the University of Saskatchewan, an expert in the human lower limbs, said the following.

"Recent considerations of safety in skiing highlight the importance of dissipating ground reaction forces through the joints of the foot and ankle, which are multi-axial and able to absorb significant energy without sustaining injury.

"Mr. MacPhail's design enables the musculature of the lower limb to absorb these forces before they are directed into the ligaments of the knee, thus protecting this relatively stiff tissues from injury."

In his letter of support, Alex Sochaniwsky, P. Eng., the biomedical engineer who designed the research vehicle, wrote the software (where none existed) and conducted the studies said, "The design and development strategies used by David MacPhail are very holistic in nature, placing the human system as the central and most critical component in the biomechanical system. His intent is to maximize human performance and efficiency, while foremost preserving the well-being and safety of the users and minimizing biomechanical compromises."

That is where I drew a line in the snow in 1991, "foremost preserving the well-being and safety of the users."

I am still waiting for others to join me.

David MacPhail

Time to expand no smoking policy?

Whistler Blackcomb (WB) has taken the right direction with the non-smoking policy on all WB property. Let's continue this conversation.

Think about the times that you are in a crowd and the smoke from just one cigarette saturates the air and it stinks. Let's be honest — it's not just unpleasant, it's unhealthy.

Non smokers should not have to accept it. 

Let's start by banning all smoking on the stroll on both the Whistler Village and right through the Upper Village (Blackcomb).

Imagine walking along the stroll and not having to get stuck inhaling smokers' fumes. Imagine enjoying lunch or après on a patio and not having to smell a cigarette that's four metres away. Imagine not having all those ugly, smelly cigarette butts dropped on the ground.  

To smokers — if you need a cigarette, find a private place and save that smoke for yourself. It's really a shame to waste that expensive exhaust on the rest of us who really don't appreciate it.

After all, who really needs smoking? 

Judi Spence

Whistler traffic difficulties: Immediate improvements  

Even a young child would notice the gridlock on weekend afternoons as a major problem for Whistler.

Recently in Pique much has been written regarding the substantial traffic problems and the lack of any simple solutions.

As published in Pique the "Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) is working on recommendations that will look at "traffic volumes, pedestrian crossings and proposed development along the corridor," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

I am encouraged to see the municipality is taking a proactive approach and is including (Ministry of Transportation Infrastructure) people on TAG. However, relatively low-cost, shovel-ready projects are needed now.  As cited in Pique MLA Jordan Sturdy stated, "better coordination for traffic lights — more specifically, the pedestrian-activated light at Alta Lake Road" could provide short-term alleviation to Whistler's traffic difficulties.

I say, let's take it a step further and build pedestrian overpasses over some key intersections. Possible target areas could be the Alta Lake Road and Bayshore Drive intersections with Highway 99.

Combine those crossings with time-delayed, vehicle-activated lights at those intersections, set off when a car has waited for a reasonable amount of time, and the traffic heading south would flow more smoothly.  

Peter Lunka

MLK college weekend

Was it just my family's poor memory, or was this the largest and loudest ever Martin Luther King college weekend (Jan. 16-18) invasion?

We have a condo on the Village Stroll, and were disappointed how often we were woken in the small hours by thoroughly drunken, loud students throughout the weekend.

I am sure many businesses in our fabulous resort enjoy the revenue boost; however, what are the mayor, councillors and the police doing to ensure our resort does not become the winter Cancun of the northwest?

The relaxed family atmosphere of our resort unfortunately disappeared for a few days.

And what steps were taken to ensure noise restrictions in the village were observed?

John Paterson
Sydney, Australia

Race director thanks

On Jan 22 and 23, the BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup races provided a whole load of excitement for coaches, athletes and spectators with multiple track records set, and for Team Canada a season-best finish in skeleton plus a double gold in bobsleigh.

For all the great stuff to happen there are a lot of people behind the scenes who deserve thanks: Robb and his track crew were absolutely amazing at keeping the track in top shape through changing weather conditions; Rusty and Cindy from (Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton) and Megan from (Whistler Sport Legacies) kept the officials and vollies fed and supported throughout; Anna, Joyce, Ben and Snowy for answering calls from start and finish for things great and small; Brad and team in the control tower for keeping it all on a roll even through the weird stuff; and Nesters, PureSource Water, Whistler Cook's, Q Energy and Tim Hortons for fuelling us all.

Last, but not least by any means, thanks to the officials team for sharing their knowledge with the visiting Korean officials preparing for their Olympics, and being professional and passionate and doing a darn fine job for the entire week.

You guys are the best!

Diana Rochon