Walk Safe not enough
I write to Pique Newsmagazine on the third anniversary of the death of our daughter Ellie Reinecke.
Firstly, I would like to thank Senka Florist for all the assistance given, and kindness shown to us twice a year, in placing flowers at the site where Ellie died on November 25, her birthday (she would have been 27 this year) and on January 6, the anniversary of her death.
Secondly to Tara Merri, formerly on the police force when we visited Whistler for the first memorial, who was so kind and considerate to us at that time. She made the case her responsibility and did everything she could to try and get us some justice for Ellie's death.
And a big thank you to Clare Ogilvie of Pique Newsmagazine who has also shown continued kindness and consideration to our loss.
Finally to Sgt. Steve LeClair, who has offered to assist Senka Flowers in placing the flowers at the roadside and ensure their safety in so doing.
Ogilvie has advised us that Whistler now has a Walk Safe program in place.
However, this is not enough. As long as drivers are allowed to speed and not be punished for it, it is likely there will continue to be deaths on the road.
In spite of the driver of the car that killed our daughter admitting to speeding, (the police claimed the driver of the car was probably driving at least nine kilometres per hour over the speed limit) and originally being charged with the offence, we were advised he later challenged the charge and the prosecutor allowed it, withdrawing the fine and loss of points! You would have to ask yourself why have speed limits if they are not enforced?
We will never be able to forgive the driver for not accepting his responsibility in the accident that caused Ellie's death, nor the prosecutor, who clearly thinks it is OK to speed and kill someone.
This would certainly not be the case in most other Western countries.
I would also like to comment that drug and alcohol testing is mandatory in most other Western countries — especially when a death occurs.
It is all very well saying that the individual has rights. But what about the rights of my daughter (who was drug tested at her autopsy) and us? As her parents we should have had the right to know if the driver was, or was not, under the influence of any substance. I do not believe it is possible for a police officer to have (or be expected to have) the expertise to know if someone necessarily is, or is not, under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A small amount can make a lot of difference to someone's reactions in a crucial situation. As can the speed of the vehicle and the unsafe way it is being driven in poor weather conditions.
I hope placing the flowers twice a year at the site where Ellie died will make people remember that speed kills.
I also hope that drug and alcohol testing can be made mandatory in a road accident, particularly one that has caused injury or death.
Not a single day goes by where I don't think of and miss my Ellie.
Perth, Western Australia
Provincially, the Liberal government redefined democracy by sitting the legislature just 39 days out of the last 569.
Federally, the Harper government redefined hypocrisy by gagging scientists and gutting environmental protection, and then claiming their approval of the Northern Gateway Spill-line was 'science-based.'
Internationally, a homophobic Russian dictator became the most powerful man in the world. And Japan introduced a new Secrets Act that says what is secret is a secret, but exposing those secrets can lead to 10 years in prison. (Kafka, are you watching this?)
Meanwhile, the president of Uruguay drives a 1987 VW Beetle, uses the official palace as a homeless shelter, and donates about 90 per cent of his salary to local charities.
And the fine folks at Playground Builders reach into war-torn darkness and make the world a better place, one joyful child at a time.
It's a weird and wonderful world. And if you don't think we can lose what we've got, you're not paying attention. Now, if only our taxes were subsidizing Playground Builders instead of Enbridge.
Van Clayton Powel
Re-Build-It Centre 'lost the plot'
It is very disappointing the way the Re-Build-It Centre has morphed into a used furniture store. The whole idea was to have a place where locals could go and get supplies that had been left over from "building" projects. When Brian ran the centre he was interested in stocking all the items that you use when building a project, not just old furniture and appliances.
You could get joist hangers, electrical bits, plumbing odds and ends and many fasteners and connectors; all the little things that add up when you are doing home maintenance and renos. These items generally are fairly small and easy to store and display compared to big overstuffed chairs and old appliances. I would recommend going back to the old model, which was more like a hardware store and to leave the old furniture for Craigslist and the buy and sell on Facebook. Or change the name to" Re-Furnish -It". If anyone else agrees please voice your opinions so we can get back what was such a great resource for locals and second homeowners alike. Let it snow!
BC Hydro rates going up
I am writing about the School District 48 letter about the BC Hydro rates going up. Can we not afford to keep our schools heated and lit for our children?
In the Sea to Sky corridor, every river and creek is slated for an Independent Power Project (IPP). What are we getting from these IPPs besides a string of power lines, fish habitat gone, a billion dollar debt over the next four years and our hydro going up?
Something is wrong here. Wake up people!
Grizzly bear report
The government report on grizzly bear population estimates ('B.C. home to 15,000 grizzly bears', Dec. 26, 2013) reveals a lot about the government's approach to grizzly bear (mis-)management. The report's opening paragraph states that "the role of science is to collect information to support the implementation of policies determined through political processes," especially for controversial issues like the trophy hunting of grizzly bears. Developing policy based on independent science is deemed "old-fashioned"! Clearly, policies are not being developed on good old independent science in today's B.C. I have numerous questions about the science in the report, including: why did the authors rely on outdated census data on human and livestock populations from 2001 (Canada) and 2000 (US), which skews their modeling? What is the point of predicting grizzly bear densities in areas where no grizzly bears have lived for decades? Doesn't adding these non-populations bump up the total number of grizzly bears in B.C., which is misleading?
The government spin in the report's press release was misleading, because it made several claims that were not reflected in the report. The press release claimed that the government is managing grizzly bears sustainably. The authors, however, explicitly state in the report's abstract that "because our predictions are static, they cannot be used to assess population trend" or whether the grizzly bear population is increasing, decreasing or stable. The press release also claimed that: "Grizzly bears are more abundant in non-forested areas probably because the plants that they eat are more likely to grow in open environments." The report, however, stated very cautiously that, "fewer trees may benefit grizzly bears by reducing competition with black bears."
The press release failed to highlight what the authors expressly stated in the report, namely that "Our study demonstrates the uncertainty in extrapolating animal densities, even for species for which there is considerable inventory data and a good understanding of the population biology." The authors also admitted that their earlier population estimates were inaccurate: "Indeed, 12 management units in British Columbia appear to have annual kill rates higher than that allowed by policy (six per cent)."
I hope that the public understands that: 1) no one knows how many grizzly bears there are in B.C.; 2) the government therefore should apply the precautionary principle by placing a ban on trophy hunting, developing and implementing recovery plans for the nine threatened grizzly bear populations units and cease approving industrial development in core grizzly bear habitat; 3) your taxes are funding questionable science which supports a policy that the majority of British Columbians oppose.
Reopening the grizzly hunt to our north
Thanks to John French for his piece on B.C.'s new grizzly bear population estimating model and some of the issues facing grizzly bears in our region (Pique December 26).
The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative is a partnership of organizations focused on halting the decline of threatened grizzly bear populations in southwest B.C. and seeing them recover to viable status. Our initiative is not engaged in the larger issue of grizzly bear hunting in the province. For our partners — and all people in the region who wish to see grizzly bears in our wilderness backyard — getting the science right to not only estimate our grizzly populations, but also for the adjacent viable populations is very important. It is from the neighbouring populations that, over time, grizzly bears (females being particularly critical) will move into our region and help bolster our threatened and dwindling grizzly populations before they are lost from the landscape. Think of it being a bit like filling an ice cube tray from one end: when one part reaches capacity it overflows to the next, and the next.
The grizzly bears in the Sea to Sky represent four of southwest B.C.'s five officially threatened populations so they are not hunted. However, following a public comment period, provincial officials are currently deciding whether to reopen the grizzly bear hunt in two portions (Management Units 5-05 and 5-06) of the Kliniklini-Homathko Grizzly Bear Population Unit — that is the grizzly population which abuts our northernmost local threatened population. Given the contribution a burgeoning population of grizzly bears in Kliniklini-Homathko could make to grizzly recovery in our region, and the lack of confidence in the scientific rigour and rationale laid out to justify the reopening, the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative submitted comments (www.coasttocascades.org/blog/ourletter) opposing the reopening of that hunt at this time.
Grizzly bear hunting in B.C. is a contentious subject and is largely a societal decision. But we do have grizzly bear hunting in B.C. so it is important that where the hunt occurs it is not only sustainable and science-backed, but it must also consider the broader ramifications to adjoining areas where grizzlies are threatened or have been eliminated from the landscape.
Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative
The trouble with pit bulls
In support of Laing Alton's opinion of pit bulls (Pique, Dec. 12), let me say this about that. In the year 2005 Ontario banned pit bulls. Regretfully, since then, these vicious dogs and moronic owners have made a beeline for B.C. Having been attacked twice in the past three years I am now convinced, more than ever, these dogs are untrustworthy and totally vicious. With both attacks, the ineffective commands and red-faced screams from the dogs owners had no effect on stopping their dog. Fortunately a shot of bear spray worked.
Is there anything more disturbing on the news than seeing yet another mauled, stitched up, disfigured and near dismembered child of yet another unprovoked, pit bull attack? Each time there is an attack and the dog is destroyed the owners act in shock that their dog did such a thing. My friend who works as a vet aid told me 99 per cent of the attacked animals that come in are from pit bull attacks. At the very least they should be constantly muzzled and always on a strong leash made of steel.
Calling all leaders
I noticed this week that the Community Foundation of Whistler has issued its annual invite for applications to the Kathy Barnett Leadership Grant. The grant is focused on the development of leadership skills in women who are working with local community organizations. As one of the lucky recipients of this grant last year I wanted to encourage others to consider applying.
Put simply this grant encourages women to push the envelope by providing an opportunity that may not otherwise have existed. While many of us (men and women) would like to further our knowledge and skills, the reality can be that education disappears down a list of priorities, somewhere below kids, work, home maintenance and dogs, until the opportunity no longer seems viable.
The Kathy Barnett Grant reminds those who chose to work in organizations that support their community that the community also wants to support them. We are fortunate to have a wide array of learning opportunities open to us, from online learning, to conferences, to courses at top Vancouver universities. So ladies, reflect a little and take a look at what's out there, because (to steal from a well known advertisement), you're worth it!
Check out the details on the sparkly new Community Foundation of Whistler website.
Ringing bells for local support
We are involved with the Salvation Army Kettle Drive in Whistler and Pemberton from ringing the bells to organizing the campaign. In the past four years our four kettles (three in Whistler and one in Pemberton) have raised over $37,000. This effort is the initiative of the realtors of Whistler and Pemberton and is supported by them, their families, friends and other amazing volunteers. The generosity of small town people and our wonderful guests never ceases to amaze. The winner of course is The Salvation Army and all the less fortunate families in Whistler, Pemberton and Mount Currie that will benefit from the efforts of all involved.
Happy New Year to all of our wonderful volunteers.
Thank you for a great skeleton event
From Jan. 1 to 6 the Whistler Sliding Centre hosted 43 athletes from 15 nations for two Intercontinental Skeleton Cup Races. Many thanks for great racing must go to the hard-working track crew for keeping the ice in super condition; the tower crew for keeping us on track and calling the races with flair; and the guest services staff for being so helpful and friendly. Races also can't be run without officials — high fives and kudos for a job well done by the BCBSA officials who found time in their schedules to help run a safe and fair race for all the athletes. Lastly, I cannot forget to thank Keith Loach, Wes Sharkey and Mitch McCullough for forerunning for all the athletes.
FIBT Jury member
Making valley-life special
The Pemberton Valley Seniors Society wish to express their gratitude and appreciation to all those who make 'life in the valley' so special and meaningful for us.
Many many thanks to:
Lindsay, Anita, Daniel, Gretchen, the Lions Club, Drumkeeran Lodge, Pemberton Community Centre and Public Library, Pemberton Legion, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, the Ullus Centre, Pemberton Taxi, Pemberton Museum, Customfit, Telus and David Perfitt's donations re: the SetGo bus, and Mark Blundell for his past support AND the seniors sharing their life stories and travelogues. We look forward to beginning the new art program beginning in 2014 thanks to a government grant and the community centre! Thank you all so very much!
Special thanks to Lindsay May, our Vancouver Coastal Health coordinator who has loved, encouraged and prepared a wide variety of events for us, including but not limited to the 2010 Paralympic curling and sled hockey events, rafting the Squamish River, Chinatown Night Market, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, high tea at the Whistler Fairmont Hotel, entertainment at Millennium Place, diner's club lunch outings, joint events with the Mt. Currie Elders and Whistler Senior group, and so much more over the last few years. Congratulations to Lindsay and Shayne on the birth of their first child, we are excited to welcome Delilah to Pemberton!
Gail McKellar, on behalf of the PVSS members