Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 22


Time to support First Nations snowboarders

After reading this week's article on the First Nations Snowboard Club (FNSC) and its struggles, I would like to publicly call on Vail Resorts to fund this program in its entirety (Pique, March 15, "Dream Team").

If I'm reading things correctly, the FNSC needs $250,000 to operate nationally and this is clearly a drop in the bucket (0.03 per cent to be precise) of Vail Resorts' $821 million dollars of annual profit (on an annual revenue of $1.91 billion dollars), and seems like a more-than-fair trade off for operating the crown jewel of their resort empire on the traditional lands of the local Indigenous populations, which have been in the area for over 10,000 years and receive next to zero benefit from having the biggest resort in the world in their backyards. 

It's absolutely shameful how the First Nations people have been treated nationally and locally, and this very small gesture would clearly go a long way in both righting many wrongs and, more importantly, positively impact the lives of many children who were not born with the privileges many of us were so lucky to have been given.

It's time to step up all of our games.

Brian Hockenstein


Nesters Crossing rezoning clarification

As one of the owners in Nesters Crossing commercial area, I feel there are a couple points with our rezoning application that deserve some clarification.

Our group of five property owners was not asking for deletion of all landscape requirements, as it was presented to council by staff and then subsequently reported in the Pique (March 15, "Council wary of commercializing Nesters industrial site").

We were simply asking that the significant dedicated buffers be recognized and that the landscape requirements beyond these be more realistic and in line with other industrial and commercial properties in Whistler and elsewhere.

The buffer areas that have already been provided in addition to the 10-per-cent requirement increase the actual required landscaped area to 17 per cent of the property.

In other jurisdictions, the standard landscaping requirement in commercial or industrial areas is five per cent or less.

It is interesting to note that both the staff report to council and CAO Mike Furey's unsolicited remarks during the council meeting commented on Whistler's limited supply of industrial land, yet they are demanding that large portions of it be landscaped.

We are being asked to provide over triple the landscaping requirements of most jurisdictions at the same time that in another part of municipal hall planners are drafting a bylaw for expanded watering restrictions. It appears that there is a bit of disconnect.

Our small group of owners, and myself personally as a small business owner, are astonished that our request to provide a small amount of housing for use by employees working within the commercial area would be turned down.

This is not a request for a large multi-unit complex on a small site. It is for an additional fifteen 75-square-metre apartments (in addition to the five currently allowed) spread out over a 12-acre site. The merits of additional staff housing in the valley do not need to be explained, but staff's, the mayor's, and some of the councillors' arguments against additional housing in Nesters Crossing are weak at best.

There are many legitimate merits of a small amount of housing in this location including: its close proximity to Meadow Park, Nesters, Whistler Village and transit; the fact that a lit portion of the Valley Trail runs through and around the site; and allowing people to live where they work removes vehicles from the highway during the now-busy morning and afternoon rush times.

How can allowing business owners to build accommodation for their staff in an area with these attributes not be a win-win for everyone?

Bryce Anderson

Whistler Landscaping

Raising our voices

We certainly did raise our voices on March 8 to celebrate International Women's Day.

The voices and instruments raised were done so by those spanning the generations, genders, musical genres and communities of the Sea to Sky. We all came together and made music. We sang, we danced, we visited, we donated and we raised a bunch of money for the Howe Sound Women's Centre.

I would like to thank all those rock stars for giving their time and talent. That stage is yours and you deserve to be up there! 

Before it was decided that the event was to be produced in partnership with Arts Whistler, Kim Maitland (Arts Whistler Marketing and Communications Manager) approached me to offer her support as a volunteer for the event. She listened as I waxed poetic on the importance of the event as a fundraiser, a celebration and an important opportunity for local female musicians.

When I took a breath three hours later, she reflected back a cohesive vision and strategy for the event. Shortly thereafter, Arts Whistler offered its support for the event and the marketing department, Kim Maitland, Alice Lambert and Judy Swens, launched an incredible campaign—one that ensured success for 2018 and promises to secure more funding opportunities in coming years. Amazing!

This year's performer experience was truly elevated by the support of Arts Whistler and some local technical crew, many of whom volunteered their time. These guys made us sound better and feel more confident: Irvine Russell, Dean Feser, Tom Graham, Tim Smith, and Stephen Vogler. I love you guys, man. 

In previous years, I have acted as the MC, stage manager, event organizer, and a performer. This year, I made a very good decision to take Mo Douglas up on her kind offer to help, "in any way I can." Thank-you Mo for really bringing the stage together as an MC. You provided some personalized attention to all the performers and you made us laugh! Thanks! My multiple duties of previous years was further alleviated by Stephanie McColm who offered her services as stage manager. She told me, "It's not my first rodeo" and indeed she proved herself to be a great performer wrangler!

All this support allowed me to enjoy the event and to hit the stage to get my annual Natalie Merchant fix.

Not surprisingly, the Arts Whistler front of house staff and volunteers acted as the most gracious of hosts and provided a truly incredible guest experience.

Nearly 400 community members came out to support the event. Thank you. See you next year!

Susan Holden

Raising Our Voices, Whistler's International Women's Day Celebration, event organizer

Say 'no' to artificial turf

I'm writing this letter in regards to the (proposed) artificial plastic soccer field at Bayly Park.

I was fortunate enough to be in Costa Rica this winter and borrowed a friend's high-performance C1 outrigger canoe and was out ripping it up on the swells when I hit a plastic garbage patch.

As is my habit, I started picking up pieces until I couldn't hold another piece and yet all around me were small pieces by the hundreds and hundreds. I paddled back to the beach so depressed about what we, as a species, are doing to our planet. Then I read in the Pique this council had approved a 88,000-square-foot plastic grass soccer field at Bayly Park (Pique, March 8, "Tensions boil over at council meeting").

In the last two months of investigating what (the artificial turf field) entails, I have discovered some alarming facts. By the way, all the data I have is from correspondence with RMOW staff, Carney's Waste Systems' manager, https://football-technology.fifa.com/media/1230/artificial_turf_recycling.pdf, and an ex-pro soccer player who lives in the corridor.This plastic field needs to be replaced every 10 years because it falls to pieces. There are millions of fake plastic blades of grass in this field. In 10 years when it looks like a mangy dog, how much of it is lost? Say 20 per cent of those fake blades of grass? Then those pieces break down into micro plastics. So where do those pieces go? Plastic floats and it rains 1.5 metres in this town per year, so they float downstream. Less than 50 m downstream from the field are ponds that are connected by a culvert to a creek that flows to the Cheakamus River and then to the ocean. In short, there is a pipeline directly to the ocean 50 m from that soccer field.

Soon after this plastic field is built this community will be contributing to the micro plastification of Howe Sound.

Then there are other environmental costs. This product is made in southeastern United States and has to be shipped here. Disposing of it is much more complicated. There are no recycling facilities in the Americas to deal with this material. It has to be shipped to Europe to be recycled correctly. If the RMOW sells off this plastic field piecemeal, then it becomes too small for anyone to bother shipping half around the world to be recycled. So then we become guilty by association of throwing it in the landfill. Every 10 years.

The municipality does not have a plan at this point or a cost estimate of what it would cost to responsibly recycle this material—$100,000 is a rough estimate using FIFA's data. So, at $800,000 for the cost of the plastic grass plus $100,00 for recycling that equals $900,000. With a 10-year lifespan, that's $90,000 that has to be put in the piggybank every year. Organic grass costs $20,000 per year for maintenance. We are paying more than four times for throwaway microplastic, polluting plastic grass. I am willing to pay more for organic food but to pay more for plastic?                                   Then there is the playing surface itself. The Men's World Cup does not play on artificial turf. When the Women's World Cup was forced to play on artificial turf, (players) sued FIFA for gender discrimination.

I reached out to an ex pro-league soccer player and asked him what the professionals preferred. His very diplomatic answer, which I will quote and remember he's not endorsing cars or pizzas was, "In my opinion, for the professional, grass is best."

This is not a sustainable project. This is not my community. What I really can't understand is this complete reversal of where we as a community have been going.

Personally, I think this mayor and council are doing a great job on the environmental front. Many things have been moving forward—sometimes not quickly—but nevertheless moving in the right direction.

I think that this mayor and council got caught in a whiteout when they were making this decision.

Please help them get back on the right path, as although the RMOW has not signed an agreement to buy or cut a cheque for this plastic grass, it is only weeks away.

Please email mayor and council at corporate@whistler.ca.

I know this is eleventh hour, but it is not too late.

Lyall FetherstonhaughWhistler

Try the bus instead of parking

I fully understand Wendy Bernstein's difficulties with the parking system around Whistler, but why does she think it only applies to Americans (Pique, "Letters to the Editor," March 15)?

If you came from Outer Mongolia, the same conditions would apply.

(Those from south of the border) are overwhelming Whistler due to our weak dollar and the fact that an American company has taken over the hill.

Yet still the whining continues. 

Wendy Bernstein, you and your friends and family would be most welcome in Whistler at anytime, but next time consider taking the bus (into town).

Nigel Mathews


A glorious evening

Raising our Voices, (the) celebration of International Women's Day through women and song ... was spectacular.

My teenage daughter and I were both able to perform and celebrate in our own unique ways. I want to thank Susan Holden and Maury Young Arts Centre, Maureen Douglas, all the amazing staff and volunteers who created such an awesome and fun-filled evening.

Not only did I get to be in a band for one glorious song with Susan Holden, Murray Hunt, Tony Moser, Catherine Batchelor, Carol Severson and Izumi Knox, but we were also invited to participate in two workshops presented by Arts Whistler.

As performer/participants this year, we were enlightened, entertained and educated by Rachel Lewis, singer and songwriter extraordinaire, and Irv Russell and Nino Celella, recording studio wizards.

Raising our Voices was a successful fundraiser for The Howe Sound Women's Centre. Volunteers, staff, clients and board members from the women's centre came together to sing, play music, dance, create, perform, lend a hand, raise awareness, and raise funds for this important and necessary work.

Our community is blessed with kindness, generosity and incredible talent.

Thank you to everyone who came out! 

Sheila Sherkat


Check your sources

With regard to climate change, I really would encourage anyone concerned to read the actual research to form their own opinion.

Of course, while doing that one must always be cognizant of the source funding of said research, the research team's expertise in the field, and the motivations of those organizations promoting it. Bringing me to my point.

I see Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), submits fairly often to "Letters to the Editor" on the subject of climate science without disclosing the nature of his and the ICSC's relationship to the Heartland Institute, the organization best known for lobbying against public health legislation on behalf of the tobacco industry (Pique, "Letters to the Editor," March 15)?

Just sayin', Tom.

Peter Rankin


CLARIFICATION: In an article in the March 15 issue of Pique, "How realistic are Whistler's union ambitions?," it was stated that the results of this year's Whistler Blackcomb (WB) Employee Engagement survey were the lowest in company history. This was based on an internal WB email, which said the results were "well below previous years." In a follow-up email, WB communications director Marc Riddell said that this year's results were lower than the previous three years, and that results in 2002, for instance, were "significantly lower."

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