Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of June 21


A salute to Lillooet firefighters

Three weeks ago, a fire started down at the railroad tracks at Xusum Creek, and raced up the mountain side, right through the woods beside our homes at McGillivray Falls. As you know, the fire mushroomed to over 500 hectares in the next few days. 

Within a few hours of the fire starting, the Lillooet contingent of the BC Fire Service arrived in strength, and dove into the battle.  Air support arrived, with skimmers and helicopters.

Over the next four days, the men and women of the fire crew worked long hours fighting the fire—they saved our community. The fire came to within 200 metres of our homes. Without their efforts, many homes certainly would have burned.

This crew was good! They knew exactly what they are doing, and they went about their work efficiently and professionally. The redshirts and mudders, and the pilots, worked long hours in difficult terrain to bring the fire under control near our community and around the homes near Marne.

The team leaders advised us of their plans, so that we could assist where possible, and to make sure we were ready to evacuate if necessary. Even though the risk was high, we felt safe.

We want the rest of B.C. to know how good these people are. We think B.C. should take pride in its fire service, especially the crew from Lillooet.

We cannot thank them enough.

Phil Lamb for
The community of McGillivray Falls

A bigger picture for bears and humanity

There is no picture. Nope, not even if this was a social media post. And no, this wasn't an editorial decision. There is no picture to accompany the story. That's the point.

I was riding along West Side Road. I had already climbed Kadenwood and Nordic, my mind emptied of the usual worries and to do lists. I was staring at a blank road so to speak, so when I turned a corner and saw a vehicle flashing its lights at me, I didn't clue in at first.

I was a few pedal strokes away from a large black bear.

She was beautiful. Brown with a wide face. Fifteen years in Whistler, and the thrill of seeing a wild animal like this never lessens. But what locked this memory in was the sound of her eating. What joy. She was chowing down on a green something with such relish. Mouth open, bits and pieces flying about as she mashed. It was the sound of a toddler eating creamy pasta for the first time. That lip-smacking, I-can't-get-this-in-me-fast-enough sound. I only heard this in the few seconds of lost pedal strokes, coasting by this special scene.

I didn't stop. I didn't turn around. My phone was well within reach in my jersey back. I could have photographed the moment, but I decided to live it instead, taking the time to absorb this chance gem as I pedalled away. I didn't snap a photo. So I got to see, feel and hear things I would have otherwise missed fiddling with a phone.

Now there are plenty of reasons not to stop and view and/or photograph a bear from the side of the road.

The Conservation Office Service will be the first to tell you it is illegal to endanger other motorists by stopping your car on a provincial or municipal road.

Bear advocates will tell you that by giving a bear a positive experience with a human (a.k.a. a human quietly watching a bear at a close proximity posing absolutely no threat to the bear) only leads to the habituation of the bear. Every encounter a bear has with humans matters because these instances have a way of piling up on each other. Once habituated, accustomed to people's presence, bears grow more and more emboldened with every encounter. It isn't long before they decide it's OK to enter public spaces; and therefore, said bear becomes a dead bear.

These are two solid arguments. One arises out of the need to protect the safety of others, the other to preserve the welfare of the bears.

Still, there's a third. It's purely selfish—although motorists and bears benefit. Do it for yourself—your own wellbeing.

Hours have passed since my roadside encounter, and I can still hear and see the old girl chomping down clearly in my head. It's an inner picture that will find me, or be one that I'll look to when I need a smile. I think nature and the outdoors are more powerfully realized when the picture lives inside of you.

And if you don't agree, I'll leave you with an old saying: a picture is a worth a thousand words.

The picture I'm thinking about was from a recent social media feed on the royal wedding. The image was of a cheering crowd, holding up a wall of cell phones in front of them, save one grey-haired, old lady who leaned on a barrier, contentedly watching and smiling at the royal couple driving by, enjoying the moment.

And if you still can't kick the need for something to post on your social media feed, I urge you to be a good human and steal.

Feel free to drag and drop any bear image from bearsmart.com, leaving you free to experience what should be a passing, but not fleeting, moment with our bears.

Nicole Fitzgerald
Whistler Coordinator, Get Bear Smart Society

Praise for RMOW councillors

Credit is due to the three councillors who took a position to protect the environment and recently voted against the artificial turf field project.

The role of elected councillors is to consider the well being and interests of the municipality and the community. With a global alarm increasingly louder about the intrusion of microplastics into the environment and plastification of the oceans, councillors Sue Maxwell, Jen Ford and Cathy Jewett indicated that they are willing to focus on protecting the environment. Their position supports the "zero waste" goal being presented by RMOW; bringing in tons of plastic grass does not.

To suggest that the position of these three councillors is anything other than a committed concern for our environment is rhetoric. "Will they continue to retire their plastic ski boots semi-annually?" Crosland Doak asked in his "Letter to the Editor" last week (Pique, June 14). For the record, Mr. Doak, the "few dissenting members of the public" outnumbered those in favour by 2 to 1 with letters to RMOW council.

Councillor Maxwell is to be commended for her due diligence on this project and the valid points she presented against it. Go to whistler.ca to watch the full discussion at the last council meeting.

As for the "World Cup" cheers from Whistler Youth Soccer Club (WYSC) for the plastic grass—it is worth noting that the recent joint award of the 2026 World Cup to Canada, Mexico and the U.S. means that grass will replace the artificial turf at the stadium hosting the games in Edmonton, Alta. World Cup soccer games are played on grass—not plastic turf.  

Taxpayers will want to know who voted for this project as a new council will be elected in October. This project comes with an additional $135,000-plus cost/year for maintenance and replacement, with no funds yet raised by WYSC.

Dawn Titus

Re-think float plane flight paths

I would like to echo my long-time friend Susanne Kay's request to Whistler council for a no-fly zone over Whistler's subdivisions.

A few years ago, I re-visited New Zealand's Fox Glacier, the constant non-stop, loud air traffic overhead (made) a mellow walk (harsh).A scenic flight is a must for every tourist there now, and the planes and helicopters parade one after another all day long.Is this Whistler's fate too?As Harbour Air is now applying to double its dock space (I want to ask mayor and council to) please consider asking it to re-think its flight paths.

Jim Horner 

How to make a long-term impact

For people concerned about improving their community or country, what's the best approach?

I was reminded recently of the positive influence possible when a wide array of people seize common ground and together exert themselves to serve others. The reminder came when Marilyn McIvor wished me a "Happy New Year"—at the beginning of June. Marilyn had a successful career as a public health nurse in the Sea to Sky corridor. Her work now has national reach as the coordinator for the National Health and Fitness Foundation (nhfdcan.ca), of which I am the president.

Together with a robust and growing foundation board, we battle the sorry trend of sedentary behaviour in Canada, corresponding trends of overweightness, and related plagues of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health maladies.

Canadians who care about our out-of-control "sickness care" costs know that we need to take more control over our own personal health. At the Foundation, we're doing our best to make physical activity accessible and fun by leveraging the profile of parliamentarians and Canadian governments to change people's behaviour for the better.

In marking the beginning of a "new year," Marilyn was referring to the recent end of the Foundation's busiest season. We celebrated Ski Day on Parliament Hill in February, National Lifejacket and Swim Day on the Hill and Bike Day on the Hill in May, and National Health and Fitness Day on the first Saturday in June. Bike Day was the seventh annual event of its kind and has grown to include a two-day cycling advocacy summit quarterbacked by Velo Canada Bikes.

The Foundation and its activities grew around initiatives that Whistlerites, other constituents and I got going when I served as MP. We were all unified by a positive mission, to "Make Canada the Fittest Nation on Earth," the objective behind National Health and Fitness Day, or NHFD.

On NHFD, Canadian provinces, territories, First Nations, and local governments are invited to hype their promotion of positive physical activity. Governments that operate recreational facilities are encouraged to make those facilities available to citizens on a preferential basis, in order to encourage an increase in year-round physical activity. The day was formalized when then Senator Nancy Greene Raine and I passed Bill S-211 in 2014. To date, over 400 local governments have proclaimed the day, with varying levels of practical participation.

Thousands of people have now been involved in the NHFD initiative. No, we haven't yet "arrived," and, yes, Canadians are still suffering from an epidemic of inactivity. But the momentum is strong and we accomplished it based on some basic approaches that can be applied in all areas of public life:

• initiative based on service rather than partisan politics have by definition a greater likelihood of grassroots support (Nancy and I got unanimous support in the House and the Senate for Bill S-211);

• a focus on finding common ground brings together people with different gifts, relationships, and expertise (you'd be impressed by the broad array of organizations with which we work to promote our objectives); and

• it's good to have "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" (We dream that, within 10 years, 10,000 cyclists will ride on Bike Day in Ottawa, along with large numbers in each provincial capital, and every Canadian government and First Nation will have proclaimed the day).

So what's the take-away for getting things done in public life? My sense is that, the firmer the common ground on which you start, the longer lasting and broader will be your impact. As we lurch towards a federal election next year, let's hope candidates will look for common ground even as they seek to distinguish themselves for election purposes.

John Weston
Volunteer President of the National Health and Fitness Foundation

Gymnastics thanks

We are so fortunate to live in this amazing and supportive community.

Whistler Gymnastics would like to thank Creekbread for doing an incredible job hosting our recent social and helping to make our fundraiser a great success. We would also like to thank the Southside Deli, Creekside Market, Whistler Brewery, 21 Steps, Whistler Bungee, Ruby Tuesday, Scandinave Spa, Ziptrek, Hy's Steakhouse, Purebread, the Amsterdam Pub and Whistler Baskets for their generous and much appreciated donations.

Thank you Whistler for once again, stepping up to support local sport in our community and encouraging gymnastics for all!  

Audra Williams
Whistler Gymnastics Club

SCCS send Kenyan to high school

Thank you to the people who helped with our ice-cream cone fundraiser for our PA-MOJA Club at Spring Creek.

PA-MOJA is a North American charitable organization that helps Kenyan children go to school while supporting the conservation efforts of the Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in the Laikipia region of Kenya. 

A big thank you to Glen at IGA for donating the ice cream and cones.

We made $400 and couldn't have done this without your help.I would also like to thank Allie, Suzanne, Seb and teacher Jane Millen's students who helped scoop and deliver the ice-cream cones. It was a messy job!

Extra thanks to Seb for counting all the money. Thanks also to the teachers who took the orders and to the students who bought ice-cream cones.  

This has been a great year for the PA-MOJA Club. We had a very enthusiastic group that put in a lot of work this year. These students had great attitudes and were very enthusiastic about supporting our scholarship student, John Wachiro.

We made over $2,300 this year, which is enough to pay tuition for John for two years for secondary school in Kenya.

Many students cannot afford to pay school fees in Kenya; consequently they finish in Grade 8 and have great difficulty finding work.

With the support of Spring Creek PA-MOJA Club, John will be able to complete Grade 12 and apply to college or university. He will have more choices for his future.  Asante sana (thank you in Swahili) to all the PA-MOJA Club members and their parents who supported John, PA-MOJA students and animals in Kenya.

Vicki Swan

WSS celebrates its athletes

Thank you Westin Whistler, for supporting Whistler Secondary School's Athletic program in pulling off its first-ever athletic banquet on June 6 at the school.

We couldn't have done it without your help.

The event was a huge success and we look forward to making it an annual tradition to celebrate and acknowledge all students, coaches and parents who participate in Whistler Secondary School athletics.

Katrina Chevrette
WSS Athletic Director