Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for the week of March 20th


Put grizzlies first

This letter was addressed to the SLRD Directors: As a professional grizzly-bear biologist of long-standing in the province of B.C, I was asked by an interested party to review the potential impacts of Innergex/Creek Power Inc.'s Upper Lillooet River Hydro Project (ULRHP) on grizzly bears in the area.

Based on my extensive review, I respectfully request that you vote against the Temporary Use Permits (TUPs) for this project.

What I have learned from my extensive experience and research in environmental impacts (that extend all the way back to the proposed Moran Dam on the Fraser River!) is that it is all too easy to focus on just the impact of the footprint of an industrial project, and not on how incremental it can be to sensitive species like the grizzly bear when joined to other impacts that already have already affected their population viability.

I have also learned that the surviving grizzlies in the South Coastal Mountains of B.C. are the last left in North America of the "dryland" grizzly bear that lives in mountains in the lee of the Coast Ranges, and feeds on such things as whitebark pine nuts and salmon. All grizzly bear populations in the U.S. to the south of this B.C. area that used to represent the dryland salmon bear ecotype are now extinct.

Thus, voting against the TUPs will send a message to the provincial government, and could result in stopping and/or delaying the construction of the ULRHP, which would be beneficial to the four threatened grizzly bear population units (GBPUs) in the region.

The provincial government continues to completely mismanage our wildlife, wild rivers and forests as evidenced by its approval of the ULRHP in the face of how few grizzly bears remain in the South Coastal Mountains. There are currently only an estimated 58 grizzly bears in the Squamish-Lillooet GBPU; two in the Garibaldi-Pitt GBPU; 203 in the South Chilcotin GBPU and 23 in the Stein-Nahatlatch GBPU.

The provincial government has utterly failed to take the necessary measures to ensure the recovery of these GBPUs in the face of a multitude of proposed developments in the region (another ski resort, more river diversion projects, Taseko's New Prosperity Mine, an LNG plant, etc.), which if approved, will result in these grizzly bears eventually winking out just as they have their now extinct cousins to the south.

The provincial government appears to be willfully blind to the cumulative effects of ongoing and future industrial development on grizzly bears and species at risk in the SLRD.

Do you want your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to grow up in these once beautiful wilderness mountains that we have allowed to become severely fragmented by industrial developments, but devoid of the grizzly bear? Or will your legacy be the survival of grizzly bears and wilderness in the SLRD?

It is, therefore, imperative that the SLRD directors stand up for the survival of the last resident grizzly bears and vote against the TUPs, ensuring a legacy that you and future generations can be proud of.

Wayne P. McCrory, bear biologist

New Denver

Time to stoop and scoop the poop

Many moons ago a travelling holy man recounted to my wife of his experiences in Canada. She particularly remembers him mentioning that it is a land where those who spit in the streets are fined. 

So we arrived in Whistler from the U.K. for our first-ever season, expecting a land of cleanliness. Unfortunately, we not only encountered saliva on the pavement, but also canine feces.

We are surrounded by it where live at the Vale Inn, and choose not to take the steps due to the excrement littering them.

We are forced to walk carefully to the gondola and back every day carefully examining the pavement, to avoid getting the brown stuff on our snowboard boots, and then bindings...

Whistler's dogs are generally well groomed and well trained. The problem is that a few of the owners are not well trained, causing misery for those who have to walk around here. 

In three months here I have witnessed two dog owners picking up after their pets, and felt like rewarding them with a Turtle for it. Those that don't pick up, well, awarding them their pet's produce through their mailboxes might be a suitable prize.

Alternatively, the authorities could come down heavily on these inconsiderate owners and fine them. Also, bins and pooch poop bags could be made available. 

In Whistler we have found ourselves in the Disneyland of snow resorts, but sadly Mickey does not always pick up after Pluto.

Jay Creagh


Heliport is for everyone

I owned and operated Whistler Air Services Ltd, a floatplane company based on Green Lake, from 1986 until May of 2012 when Harbour Air, a major floatplane company from Vancouver, made me an offer that I accepted.

I sold them the main assets of Whistler Air Services Ltd., changed the name of the company to Spearhead Aviation Ltd. and applied to Transport Canada to get our rotary-wing operating certificate reinstated. (During the period 1992-1997 Whistler Air Services Ltd. operated helicopters at the Whistler Municipal Heliport. We were there during the construction phase and were the first operator actually based at the heliport.)

I have recently been informed by John Morris, the president of the Whistler Heliport Society, who also happens to be one of the owners of Blackcomb Aviation, that there is no room at the Whistler Municipal Heliport for Spearhead Aviation Ltd., as all of the leased lots have been assigned.

The Whistler Municipal Heliport was constructed in the early '90s, as a result of community pressure to consolidate the numerous heli pads that were springing up throughout the valley.

It was built with both federal and provincial money to the tune of over $3,000,000. As designed, the facility had a central helipad for use by both leaseholders and itinerant users. It also had five lease lots to be leased out to aviation companies. In 2009 the heliport was expanded further to accommodate the increase in military presence for the 2010 Olympic Games.

According to Mr. Morris, of the five lots available for lease to aviation companies, three have been assigned to Blackcomb Aviation and the other two have been assigned to Whistler Heli-Skiing, a company owned by Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership (Whistler Blackcomb Holdings owns 75 per cent of this company). Notwithstanding the fact that Whistler Heli-Skiing is not an aviation company and should not even be allowed to set up shop at the heliport, the argument that both of those companies need the entire heliport for their own needs is indefensible. Blackcomb Aviation supplies the helicopters that Whistler Heli-Skiing uses for its operations so effectively Blackcomb Aviation has the whole heliport as a private preserve.

(I believe) there is huge conflict of interest in having the only aviation company based at the heliport in control of the society that manages the heliport.

The facility was built with public money for the greater good of the municipality not for the private use by one company.

The governments that are entrusted with overseeing this, and that have used taxpayer money to fund the building of the heliport, have an obligation to make this right.

Mike Quinn

Spearhead Aviation Ltd.


U.S. tax compliance will affect everyone

The relationship between Canada and the United States is about to reach an all-time low because of a law passed in the U.S. in 2010 and soon to be implemented in Canada.

It's called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and requires every bank outside the U.S. to report their American account holders to the IRS — or face economic sanctions.

Because the United States subjects its citizens and green card holders to a Diaspora tax on their Canadian earnings and requires them to report on their savings, this is expected to have an unprecedented and devastating effect on approximately one million Canadians, their families and business partners.

In a letter addressed to me personally, the Honourable John Weston MP has stated that he is "thrilled" to inform me that his government has recently signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to help facilitate this transfer of information to the IRS, an act believed by many to be in contravention of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Every Canadian should be gravely concerned about what this means to Canada. First of all, the IGA will now make discrimination based on national origin legal in Canada. Second of all, it will result in the transfer of earnings on Canadian registered savings plans to the U.S. Treasury to fund services not used in Canada. Furthermore, it's expensive to implement and will cost all Canadians dearly.

Scotiabank has already spent $100 million in startup costs for FATCA. For more information on what this means to you as a Canadian and how you can lend valuable support in fighting this threat to Canada's sovereignty, please visit the Isaac Brock Society website.

Prime Minister Harper is right. We will not recognize Canada when he's through with it.

Suzanne Herman


Need to be specific about LRT

What exactly is Mr. Chris Watson talking about?  Where is this type of transit used already (Pique, March 13)? 

I may not be a transit expert but have used all sorts of transit systems in several countries spread on three continents for many years.

LRT — for transit experts as well as transit geeks — like me — means Light Rail Transit.

There are two types of LRT:

• Automated ones, like SkyTrain and its competitors (VAL from France, AGT from Japan, both operational several years before SkyTrain)

• Manned ones (i.e. with a driver). Outside North America they are called tramways, regardless of their size and the number of passengers carried.

The Seattle Central Link LRT run "trains" of two units (each unit has three articulated sections). A train of two units can carry 400 passengers. According to the manufacturer a four-units train could be used (800 passengers). 

The Seattle LRT is especially interesting as it runs underground in the downtown area (in a wide tunnel shared with buses), at street level for quite a long distance and, near the airport, on a viaduct (where it looks exactly like SkyTrain).

"Light" in light rail transit only means lightweight vehicles compared to full size metros and commuter trains, like those in London, Paris, Toronto, etc.

A Seattle LRT single unit is 29-metres long with a weight of 46 tons (empty)!

A Citadis 402 tram from Alstom is 44-metres long with a weight 55 tons (empty) and carries 300 passengers. In safe, dedicated rights of way, with widely spaced stops — in outer suburbs for example — they can run at 100 km/h.

LRT vehicles are not cheap... around $3 million per unit.

All these manned and automated LRT are electrically powered (just like the majority of commuter trains and high-speed trains in Europe, Japan etc.).

Is Chris Watson talking about a cable car/ aerial tram/ gondola (different names for the same thing)? It doesn't have enough passengers capacity per hour, and is definitely not cheap.

Is he talking about a monorail? The tracks are as big and expensive as the ones used by VAL/ AGT/. SkyTrain and elevated stations do not come cheap either. There are other good reasons why there are few of them in the world.

Finally, as a regular SkyTrain user, I know that when all trains stop for 30 minutes or more "due to a medical emergency" this means somebody died on the tracks. Numbers are not available. Preventing suicides or accidental falls on the tracks is why the Japanese and French automated systems had screen walls separating tracks from the platforms from day one and why older metros in various towns are retrofitted with these platform screen walls.

J-L Brussac