Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of June 29th

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Thank you for the Chili love

Up and down the Sea to Sky, Chili Thom was a community volunteer and a bridge between sport, nature, and fine art.

He quickened the spirit of the Sea to Sky with his dreamy imagery and wild-at-heart perspective. In the last three weeks that quickening took flight — for a town who knew and loved him, and visitors who discovered him.  

As I stand back and reflect on what Whistler just accomplished, I also swell with gratitude for the people behind the extraordinary experience.

Without exception, and from the moment of this project's conception, the Audain Art Museum board and staff have been a community partner and exceptional advocate in everything we set out to accomplish. They respectfully opened their door to Arts Whistler and the project team living up to their reputation of being one of the greatest gifts our community has been fortunate enough to receive.  

But it takes a village. Especially with a promise to make all stops on The Chili Thom Experience free of charge, and our lofty goal to create a legacy scholarship fund in Chili's name.

Arts Whistler Presents: The Chili Thom Experience happened with the financial support of local businesses who believed in our vision, a team of volunteers who mastered the project's execution, the owners of his masterpieces who trustfully handed over precious canvases, the classrooms who chose to be inspired by Chili, the engaged and giving colleagues at every cultural building who gracefully hosted his soul, and Chili's heart itself: his tribe and family, who lent us his voice and helped us stay the course.

There are too many people to name here, but I would be remiss not to mention our primary supporters, The Grocery Store, Sushi Village, The Houssian Foundation, Gibbons, and the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.  

It is because of the people behind these organizations, and a roster of other businesses and leaders in the community, that WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RAISE ALMOST $40,000 FOR A SCHOLARSHIP FUND IN CHILI THOM'S NAME. I apologize for yelling joyfully in all caps, but how can I not?  For years to come, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish high-school graduates pursuing a career in art will be cultivated by the legacy of Chili Thom.

Arts Whistler's philosophy is: Be Bold. Be Inspired. Be Engaging. It believes in fostering, promoting and supporting all artists and artistic events in the community.

Like Chili Thom, it believes that the boundless beauty of Whistler exists not just in the striking mountain setting, but in our public buildings that host arts and culture, the local galleries, stories untold, and in talents yet to be discovered.

Our friend Chili lived that same philosophy in life. In his afterlife, he lit up Whistler's Cultural Connector — joining Maury Young Arts Centre, Audain Art Museum, Whistler Museum, Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, and Whistler Public Library in a celebration of the tapestry of Chili Thom's tenure on Earth. All this while nurturing new generations of Sea to Sky artists.

He was the bridge. He was the map. Let's not wait for another loss before we light up the Cultural Connector, celebrate local artists, and do this again.  

Thank you, Whistler.

Heather Paul
Whistler

Throne Speech shows Clark's true colours

If British Columbians had any doubts about what motivates Premier Christy Clark, the throne speech made it abundantly clear. Clark will "sell her grandmother" to hang onto to power. 

She pretends to have heard what the voters want as evidenced by one of the throne speech's references to the environment: "Your government will also ensure that direct payments it secured from the federally regulated Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project are dedicated to environmental protection and restoration."

Wait! Voters do not want the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will exacerbate climate change and violates First Nations' rights. 

The throne speech also mentioned that "... your government will move to protect the health and safety of B.C.'s unique environment by reviewing our system of professional reliance to ensure public confidence is maintained."

Wait! The public has no confidence whatsoever in the professional reliance system, which enables massive clearcutting and environmental disasters like the Mount Polley tailings spill.

Appointing MLA Jordan Sturdy as Minister of Environment raises yet more questions. What qualifications does he have to take on this responsibility? Surely not his chairing of the BC Climate Change "Inaction" Plan, which has LNG as a cornerstone! 

Hear this, Christy: We do not want another election for another four years and the time has come for you to slink off the stage.

The BC Liberals have done more than enough damage to B.C.'s environment, education, and healthcare over the last 16 years. 

Louise Taylor
Pemberton

Right call, wrong accent?

Nigel Mathews' letter regarding peoples' idiotic actions, which eventually condemn many bears to death is a very important one (Pique, June 22).Less appreciated is the not-so-subtle use of tired stereotypes of Australians when he tut-tuts his displeasure of the actions of the photographer. In fact... the "accent" (in the video) is that of an Englishman. One hundred per cent. No doubt.

Nigel (I'm assuming in his haste to highlight the plight of bears rather than insult all Australians) got this wrong.

Now will he be "Canadian" enough to agree that he was wrong and even say sorry for his banal slight? Maybe we can all do more to help the bears and resist perpetuating insulting stereotypes at the same time.

Daniel Peterson
Whistler

Book sale success

The Friends of the Whistler Public Library would like to thank everyone who, by donating and purchasing books, helped us raise $4,102 at the Used Book Sale. These funds are used to support library programs and purchase resources.Special thanks to our dedicated volunteers who collected, sorted and sold books — to Bob and Sally Calladine for generously providing our worksite, and to Jane Reid for sharing her book-sale expertise.

Our keen volunteers included: Alastair and Annette Miller; Gary and Jane Clifford; Bill Janyk; Brent Matthew; Mike and Janet Jean; Bobby Orr; Jessie Pendygrasse; Kima Grieve; Alice Mastalir; Ophra Buckman; Gill Schramm; Verna Parry; Stephanie Murray; Deb Smythe; Jinny Ladner; Elly and Pat Johnston; Audrey Mitterndorfer; Leslie Alexander; Elaine Graham; Rosemary Cook; Christa and John Hammon; Kris Shoup; and Jane Finlayson.Our appreciation to IGA Marketplace for allowing us to hold the sale in front of its store and to Nesters Market, TD Canada Trust and the Whistler Public Library for being donation depots. The advertising from the Whistler Question and Pique Newsmagazine is appreciated, as well as the great assistance from the library staff.

Happy summer reading!

Susan Annand and Marianna Orr
Friends of the Whistler Public Library

Lessons learned the hard way

Why is it always the case that the few ruin it for the many?  

Having just been subjected to a hellish six months of a manipulative tenant plus an ongoing, associated, seemingly never-ending series of disputes and hearings with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), I would like to share with both current and prospective landlords some lessons I learned the hard in the hope that you might avoid the same pitfalls.

At the outset, (let me say that) I realize and acknowledge that there is a paucity of affordable rental housing in Whistler.

Toxic tenants who know how to game the system combined with a capricious bureaucratic process to deal with disputes only make the situation worse.

And while I wholly concur that responsible renters must be protected from unscrupulous landlords, B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) provides insufficient protections and timely remedies for landlords dealing with tenants who brazenly ignore the terms of their tenancy agreement and who continue to steal from and vandalize the landlord's property by concocting applications for dispute resolution intended to delay the resolution of the landlord's previously filed applications.  

Even if a landlord has unequivocal grounds for eviction, supported by solid evidence, devious tenants can drag out the process for months with the RTB whilst they continue to wreak havoc on the landlord's property.  

Furthermore, all power resides with the RTB's arbitrators who, in my experience, vastly differ in their understanding and application of the arcane and byzantine regulations contained within the Act.  

Trying to play by the rules as a landlord through the RTB is enormously time consuming, and very much a hit-and-miss exercise and is a process to be avoided if at all possible.Moreover, prospective and existing landlords need to know that while small-claims court in B.C. has the power to enforce RTB orders, it does not have the power to grant remedies affecting a residential tenancy.  

In other words, everything pertaining to residential tenancy in B.C. has to go through the RTB and be ruled upon by an arbitrator.  

The burden of proof is on the landlord to provide evidence that the tenant was "served," and the only allowed methods for service for the Notice of Hearing packages are in person or via registered mail.

To bring closure to this chapter, it took this landlord 102 days — more than three months — to finally be granted a monetary order from the RTB for one of three unpaid utility bills.

The RTB's single office is in a hard to reach location in Burnaby and is woefully understaffed (documents can be left at any Service BC location though). It has limited ability to receive documents and evidence via fax and hence things like photo evidence usually have to be submitted in person.So here is my advice — if you want to entirely avoid the possibility of property damage, hellish torment, time and expense — don't rent your property.  

Alternatively, if you still feel compelled to rent your property, then I can't emphasize this enough — know your prospective tenant. Take the time to do extensive due diligence — take nothing for granted.

Work from the premise that you will be taken advantage of and do your homework and prepare your tenancy agreement accordingly.

Don't succumb to taking shortcuts when considering people who come across as being "nice" and who create the impression of being responsible and trustworthy — the repeat scammers are pros at closing based on this tactic.  

So here is my list of things to do to avoid a bad tenancy:

1) Learn The Residential Tenancy Act inside out and backwards (http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/bc_laws/RTA.html);

2) Study all of the material on these web pages:http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancieshttp://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/solving-problems/dispute-resolution/serving-notices-for-dispute-resolution

3) Do not deviate from your due diligence checklist no matter how "nice" and "responsible" a prospective tenant might seem to be;

4) If possible, explore prospective tenants by word of mouth from people you know and trust. Do not use Craigslist;

5) Ask prospective tenants for permission to run a credit check;

6) Ask to see government issued photo ID such as a driver's licence. However, landlords must comply with the BC Personal Information Protection Act ("PIPA"). (https://www.oipc.bc.ca/guidance-documents/1456). For example, you can ask to see a prospective tenant's driver's licence but a landlord cannot record the licence number or copy the driver's licence;

7) Ask for addresses of previous tenancies and speak with real previous landlords. While tenant-supplied references may well be legitimate, the pro scammers can all too easily fudge them;

8) Ask for proof of a prospective tenant's ability to pay rent (see Section 12 of PIPA);

9) If the prospective tenant provides an address for service other than the address of the rental unit, ensure that it is valid and ensure that the tenant can receive registered mail at that address by sending a registered letter in advance of executing a tenancy agreement. Do not accept a post office box address;

10) If the unit is furnished, photograph and inventory everything that will remain in the rental unit during the term of the tenancy;

11) Remove anything and everything from the rental unit you don't want damaged, destroyed or to go "missing;"

12) If you intend to leave some property in the rental unit (not recommended) — ensure that it is stored in a secure locked storage area, and that the tenancy agreement clearly states that that particular storage area and its contents are not part of tenancy agreement and are not included in the rent;

13) Always do a fixed-term tenancy — i.e. do not allow the agreement to go month-to-month at the end of the term. If the tenant proves to be reasonable and responsible a new tenancy can be created;

14) Even if the tenancy is of short duration, always require that the utilities be in the name of the tenant;

15) Do not accept full payment for the entire term of the tenancy. As tempting as it might seem, it is a huge red flag suggesting that the tenant has caused problems for previous landlords and it confers rights to the tenant that can be problematic for landlords seeking to end a tenancy;

16) Do not overlook the condition reports required at the start and at the end of the tenancy;

17) Do perform your permitted monthly inspections. A landlord does not require the tenant's permission to inspect — only notification is required at least 24 hours in advance — take witnesses with you and document everything;

18) If the tenant fails to obey one or more terms of the tenancy agreement that places the property at significant risk, do not give them a second chance. Collect all the evidence and begin eviction proceedings immediately, but remember, scammer tenants can drag this process out for months;

19) Much as I'm and loath to say this, be very hesitant to rent to persons who are not either Canadian citizens or permanent residents. If things go awry, your opportunities to enforce remedies will be significantly reduced if the tenant is not a citizen or resident of Canada.

20) Always have an addendum to the tenancy agreement — best prepared by a lawyer familiar with the Act. Remember though that nothing contained in a tenancy agreement, or its addendum, can contravene the provisions of the BC Residential Act.People need housing.

Unfortunately, scammer tenants together with a cumbersome, inconsistent, costly, and time-consuming process for dispute resolution serve only to further discourage prospective landlords from offering their property for rent and hence compound the rental-housing shortage.

The Residential Tenancy Act needs to be revised to be more balanced, and to provide mechanisms for the timely eviction of "toxic" tenants who are in violation of multiple provisions of their tenancy agreement and the Act.  

Arbitrators need to be educated to be consistent in their interpretation of the Act and its application in their hearing decisions.

Monetary claims by either the tenant or the landlord unsupported by evidence should be immediately dismissed.

Finally, there needs to be a mechanism to alert prospective landlords about problematic tenants — perhaps not in the form of a "no-fly-list" but rather a "pre-cleared-to-fly" list.

Christopher R. Shackleton
Whistler

Shrink-wrap construction a bonus for builders

After hearing many negative comments through social media and the Whistler grapevine regarding the big white marshmallow on Alta Lake, I wanted to explain the reasoning behind the structure.First of all, the scaffold structure is much larger than the actual house. The scaffold roof is 11.5 metres higher than the roof of the actual house — it was engineered this way for shedding of snow.

The roof height of the house is the same as the neighbour to the north. The walls are approximately 12 metres wider than the house.The benefits to having the shrink-wrapped scaffold structure are many, including weather protection, noise and dust control, safety, security, scheduling without weather delays, all of which allow for a superior product, with a time savings of approximately six months.Obviously, the structure isn't pretty, but it is very beneficial to the construction process allowing the many local trades to continue working through this past year's record winter and keeping the project on schedule.The removal of the structure and recycling of shrink wrap will be complete by Aug. 1, allowing for landscaping to begin and the continuation of exterior and interior finishing.Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Bryn Hughes, MacDougall Construction and Renovations
Whistler

MPCS Fun Day fun

We want to thank the staff, parents and students of Myrtle Philip Community School for a very successful Fun Day on Friday, June 23. The children showed great sportsmanship all morning, and focused on the most important rule of the day: to have fun!We are very grateful to all the parent volunteers. We could not have done it without you all. Your energy, enthusiasm and flexibility with each relay ensured that the children had a ball. The set-up and clean-up was the speediest ever! What a great team!A very special shout out to Bruce Stewart at Nesters Market for donating the freezies, hot dogs, buns, and condiments for all the students, and to Sabre Rentals for the donation of the rental barbecue.

We also want to thank Lee Lee for the colourful balloon art at each station, and Fiona Minton from Ingrid's Cafe for arranging the coffee and muffins for the volunteers. And finally, to Mother Nature for giving us the gorgeous weather! Summer arrived just in time!

Jen Black, Kathleen Cunningham, and Mike Mills
MPCS Fun Day Committee

Music to our ears

The Whistler Chamber Music Society would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Real Estate Association of Whistler through its annual community grant program. As a result of being chosen a 2017 community grant recipient, the society has been able to purchase used portable staging that will be used to elevate the performers during concerts.

The stage will allow our audiences to see and fully experience the talents of the many excellent musicians that will be performing in Whistler for our annual chamber music concert series.A big thank-you to the Real Estate Association of Whistler for supporting chamber music in our community!

Laurie van Leeuwen, Jane Reid and Alison Hunter
Co-directors Whistler Chamber Music Society

WTF? — Why the Flood? Keep the Peace

Prior to my recent visit to the area I was somewhat complacent about the Site C (dam) plans.

I felt it was in the "lesser evil" category. After all, the Peace River has been dammed twice, but I had no appreciation of the landscape that was threatened by the plans to flood it. I do now.

We visited Watson Slough and saw and heard songbirds and other species at risk that rely on the wetlands (that are disappearing at an alarming rate across our country).

We drove past the fertile farmlands and met people that love and are connected to the land. This prime agricultural land with the long growing days of the northern climate is a treasure. And in spite of the devastation upstream, it is a thriving, complex, productive ecosystem and it is just plain beautiful.

We went to the W.A.C. Bennett Visitor Centre and admired the scope of the dam but were also disturbed by the dead zone that is the reservoir above in the Williston.

The draw down zones are still lifeless and creating dust problems and, 50 years later, the fish in the Williston are contaminated with mercury from the flooding effects. This results from the rotting of the organic matter in the flooding and this effect is still contaminating the fish and food chain to this day.

The tap water at the Visitor Centre comes from the Williston reservoir and is non-potable. What is that telling us?

The disregard that the First Nations were treated with, and the devastation that they suffered, in the previous flood, remain a shame on our province and something that the people are trying to recover from to this day. We can do better than this.

And, even if the First Nations win later in court, as they likely will, it remains wrong to proceed without their consent — and it is dubious that that will ever be forthcoming as they have the long view and are the First Peoples that love and rely on the land.

We all rely on the land but, sadly, some of us are less connected to this fact.

As a representative of the people it is incumbent upon the MLA, Mia Davies, to also have the long view. The biodiversity and value of the Peace River valley as it is now is irreplaceable.

It would be only short-sighted greed that would drive the decision to continue on this path and I urge her to join the voices that are speaking out against it. There will be considerable jobs "fixing" what has been done to date and the real long-term sustainable profits will be there for generations to come if farming and biodiversity are allowed to flourish on the landscape.

And as far as needing more power goes, just have a look around — the amount we are wasting is considerable. We could all make an effort on that front.

As some say in the Peace: "'WTF?' — Why the Flood? Keep the Peace." It is not too late to make a better decision and reverse this process.

Vivian Birch-Jones
Lillooet

Effective climate mitigation, or just pretend?

This is a letter sent to Pique and MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

At a climate meeting, you (Pamela Goldsmith-Jones) arranged at Gibsons Yacht Club before the election I said I thought you were in what Kari Norgaard describes as implicatory denial: climate change itself is not denied (but there is in a lack of behavioural responses, even when human-induced climate change is accepted.)

And then again, after you were elected MP, I talked with you after the meeting at the Sechelt Band Hall about carbon pricing and the slow transition to renewables as climate denial. 

Recently a group of respected climate scientists writing in Science recommended reducing our GHG emissions by half every decade if we want to stay under the agreed upon precautionary limit to below a two-degree-Celsius rise in temperature. Roughly double the old Harper target of 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. Our carbon budget for staying under two degrees is rapidly shrinking. Reducing our emissions by half each decade will be difficult, even painful, but it is possible and that's what needs to happen. (The Liberal) government is following a well-worn path to climate mitigation failure and is wasting very precious time because it refuses to recognize that climate change now requires the same disruption of political and economic business as, (say), cancer treatment.

More broadly, climate, like (any) cancer, is now an emergency and those responsible and in leadership positions must consider effective mitigation paths that require some economic and political dislocation. It is still possible — barely — to reduce emissions effectively in time. And to rapidly build that post-carbon economy to continue the social evolution that coalesced in the Industrial Revolution, with the very fortunate lifestyles we all enjoy.

Just repeatedly saying the climate has always been changing, or that effective climate mitigation would be too expensive, is a form of denial that keeps us from treatment for a potentially life-threatening problem that is just getting worse.Finally, climate change is not just one of many issues, not just one political challenge to be balanced by others. We — and you are now our government — have an obligation, a responsibility to future Canadians. Considering the potentially catastrophic consequences of dangerous climate change, is your government serious about a cure? Or cowed by orthodoxy?Effective climate mitigation is possible if we overcome denial. Imagine if our health system treated cancer like we are treating our climate. Your government promised leadership on climate and effective — not pretend — mitigation.

Climate change is an emergency requiring treatment. There is an effective cure for global warming with our high-quality lifestyles continuing after successful treatment.

As our MP, Ms. Goldsmith-Jones, please help us to get to effective treatment and protect all our futures.

Bill Henderson
Gibsons

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