The fact that Dr. McConkey is retiring is wonderful news for him and his family but not the dire news for Whistler residents your recent article by John French described (Pique, March 15, 2012). Dr. Alexandra Brooks-Hill has worked under Dr. McConkey for more than five years and is now well established here in Whistler. She is a fine orthopaedic surgeon very capable of filling the big shoes now at the gate. She is young, well trained, much admired by her colleagues and has established her practice here in our town. We are fortunate to have her here in Whistler. There is obviously an urgent need for a succession plan and I hope Dr. Brooks-Hill plays a major role in whatever the powers to be come up with.
Perhaps you should also know that she was literally raised here in Whistler, is now married to a Blackcomb pro patroller, built a home in Whistler and last summer had a baby. Now that's commitment. The fact that she is on maternity leave is hardly important in the overall scheme of things. Dr. Brooks-Hill recruited Dr. Sally Clark to cover her practice for this period and Dr. Clark has proven to be an excellent replacement for this short assignment. I wonder if the writer would have even brought this issue up if Dr. Brooks-Hill were a male taking paternity leave rather than female.
Five years ago my wife fell down Jersey Cream Wall and tore her ACL. She will ski 65 days this year only because of the surgery performed by Dr. Brooks-Hill. We will be forever grateful. This town should be thankful she has decided to practice medicine here and live here. Dr. McConkey's long-time service to Whistler has to be greatly admired and even celebrated by a grateful community.
Now is the time for future planning and funding to assure excellent orthopaedic services continue to be available to Whistlerites and Whistler guests.
David and Maryl Appleton
Fanning the fumes
Let me get this straight because seeing it in writing may make more sense to me.
There was an asphalt plant operating quietly in the Cheakamus area producing the asphalt our entire town, including the Valley Trail, is paved with. Then one day the town decides to build affordable housing for some of its residents, and a lucky few were allowed to purchase them with full knowledge of the plant's existence, so much so that it is even highlighted in bold on their purchase contracts.
Then council tells would be residents it will force the plant to move. It's decided in court the plant has not done anything wrong and doesn't have to move, and then the whole town is on the hook for the legal bills. Finally, the plant owner has to open up the newspaper every week and be vilified for continuing to operate his successful business as he has done for years, and now people are suggesting running him out of town?
Does that about sum it all up? Hahaha, it is crazy when I see it in writing. What the hell does that dirty asphalt plant owner think he's doing continuing to operate his successful business that not only employs a bunch of well-paid people butalso contributes a gigantic amount to the economy? Ah, to be so privileged to have such first-world problems. I feel nothing for the residents of that neighbourhood but my patience for the amount you guys are blowing away is wearing thin. You don't like it, move, and if that sounds like a crazy request remember you are asking the same of the business that's been there long before your names were on the subsidized housing list.
Here's a good way to spend the next $600,000... build a giant neighbourhood fan.
So shines a good deed in a weary world
Alphonse (Allan Kolb) knew the secret of life. Many of his good deeds will go unnoticed and some will remain a mystery.
I will remember him as a legend, hero and a saint. I wish anyone could have stood in his shoes for a moment let alone walk a mile in them. The soft, quiet power of Al could be felt from a distance. The expression he used — 10-Zowee — meant not only "Hello" and "Goodbye" but also "I feel good and I understand."
Al had a long, hard journey to get to the top. His success can be measured in his friends' tears. The path he leaves behind is easy to follow, instead of "take care everyone," "Give care to everyone!"
10-Zowee buddy and thank-you.
A teary eyed Bill Duff
RIP: The Zowie Man
It was with great shock and much sadness that I learned one snowy Whistler evening of my old friend Al Kolb's passing. Alphonse was a fixture in this town, having lived here apparently forever, and working these many years in a most visible vocation.
I got to know Al when we drove taxi together in Whistler's golden era. We were young and it was the Wild West and the town's bright future was full of undiscovered potential. Alphonse had already lived here for many years by that time and he provided a great example to those of us who arrived starry-eyed in the late '80s and early '90s. He was a mentor to the second generation of aspiring ski bums and a benefactor for many homeless orphans who needed temporary digs.
I won't soon forget the classic Thanksgiving dinners at the Bag cooked for the whole gang by Al and Max and Rabbit, nor the extensive classic rock record collection that a wannabee hippie flipped through in wonder many times. I never lived at the Bag, but I woke up hungover there a few mornings. I think my clothes still smell like smoke!
Alphonse loved his pints and his Canucks and his Keno. Of course that made Tapley's his second home, where in summers he could be found on the patio catching the last rays of the sun, resplendent in his Hawaiian shirts. His new bike from two summers ago proudly parked out front.
The best thing I heard about Al was that he had 37 season's passes! I took a few runs with him over the years and laughed when someone reminded me that I sold him his first pair of fat skis in the late '90s. Al wasn't exactly an early adopter of new technology so I had to bring those skis to Tapley's and make him take them home. He bought me a beer.
There aren't many greater ambassadors for our town than Al Kolb. How many tourists and weekend warriors and residents alike got in his taxi in the last 25 years? How many people shared a pint with him at the Boot or Tapley's or Dusty's? How many roommates did he have at the Bag? For all that, he represents not only a connection to the glory years of our fading youth, but also the under-appreciated local that makes this town tick and is a fount of history and wisdom. In a crucial but unrecognized way guys like Alphonse built this town, and Whistler owes him a debt of gratitude.
Part of that debt was paid by everyone who came out to raise a glass and share a story last Friday. I can't think of a lousier reason to have a party, but credit to Al for bringing everyone together one last time.
From decompressing after a night shift in the Keg Lot, to epic parties in the backyard of the Dirtbag, to the dock at Lost Lake, to cruising 7th Heaven. From Birken to the Boot to Brisas Del Mar. Thanks Alphonse, for sharing your town with me. Whistler is a sadder place today.
10-Zowie buddy. Flag away.
Dave The Wave
Mountains demand respect
I second Michael Gigliotti's view on the proposed Spearhead Traverse huts (A dissenting view, Pique letters March 15). Wilderness is so precious to me that I sincerely feel it should be left alone. A tall electrified fence should be erected forthwith and only the few that can demonstrate their physical and emotional fitness should be allowed in. Needless to say the misguided people behind the Squamish gondola project should be forced to climb the Chief on their hands and knees until they see the error of their ways.
As for the European Alps not being wild anymore... no kidding! They have been inhabited for as long as humans have been in Europe. Some of the towns and villages are over 2,000 years old, the others go back to the early Middle-Ages, when they already had solid houses of stone and wood. And they were not built in the plains at the foot of the mountains either. The well-known town of Chamonix-Mt Blanc is actually 17 villages and hamlets, all located at a minimum altitude of 1,000 metres (whatever that is in colonial units of length).
The first known tourists were a party of Englishmen that came to see the "Mer de Glace" glacier, in 1744. Mass tourism started in earnest in the mid-19th century.
All the same, for all its lack of total wilderness, the Alps aren't Disneyland yet. Every year people — even skilled mountaineers — are killed. In June 2011 in the French Alps, six climbers died at an altitude of 3,000 metres. One week later, in the same region, another person died and his companion was badly hurt. In July two young men fell 800 metres while climbing the Aiguille du Midi, a peak reached by the highest cable car in the world (there is a cafe, a restaurant etc. at the top of that peak). The year before 58 people died in the French Alps, with 10 others missing, likely dead by now. From January to June 2011, 81 people died in the Swiss Alps, and 26 more died in August.
Mr. J-L Brussac
Can corporations be trusted?
Re: Run-of-River Eco-concerns raised (Squamish Chief, March 16), Moratorium on IPPs (Pique, March 15)
I read with interest your articles on the damaging effects of "Ramping." I assume at this point the damage results from poor management rather than the technology itself. Perhaps someone with more expertise could comment on this?
I ask this as in my non-expert experience, the technology itself is relatively ecologically benign if sited appropriately — and believe me I've gotten enough grief from my more eco-inclined friends on this point!
The significant point which I think we can all agree on here is that no matter what, corporations cannot be trusted to manage themselves on our land. After all, despite what some would have us believe (Kevin Falcon? John Weston, perhaps?) corporations are not people, which is precisely why we need strong government oversight and regulation over their actions, which we currently don't have. This fact should be foremost in our minds as the Enbridge Pipeline environmental review process proceeds.
On that point I hope that both towns come out for Chris Joseph's discussion on the pipeline March 27, 7 p.m. at the Howe Sound Inn in Squamish. See you there!
Fight cancer Saturday
There are lots of people who will remember me, the person who has fought the good fight against brain and breast cancer. I know there are many reasons I'm still here: friends, family, luck of the draw and the BC Cancer Agency.
On Saturday, March 24 I am taking part in the Balding for Cancer, fundraising for British Columbia Children's Hospital. The event at the GLC starts at 3:30 p.m., with the Hair Farmers!
Nobody deserves cancer, especially kids. The website address for donations is: https://secure.bcchf.ca/SuperheroPages/team.cfm?Event=BFD&Team=4923
If anyone would like to donate coins, bottles or cans please email firstname.lastname@example.org, my team and I will be happy to pick stuff up or come by.
Cancer Sucks but I'm still here and I'm awesome.
PVTA going places
If you missed the Pemberton Valley Trails Association's (PVTA) 11th AGM held this week, then you'll want to renew your annual membership either online at www.pembertontrails.com, or the BikeCo or mail to Box 282, Pemberton.
Many volunteer hours have been spent on our trails and business related to the development of the network. The new Trail Map is awesome (thanks to Brigit Goldammer) and one of the new signs can be seen at One Mile Lake. The fundraiser held last June raised about $6,000 towards trail projects.
The PVTA is grateful for the support of the Village of Pemberton and the SLRD in these endeavours for our community. There is a Trails Master Plan in place now and the first trail maintenance day for 2012 is planned for April 21. We are hosting the AGM for Trails B.C. April 29, which will be highlighting the Sea to Sky Trail, an offshoot of the TransCanada Trail. It will also be a chance to hear about the TCT and trail activities in other parts of B.C.
This year, plan to attend a monthly meeting held on the second Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Rec Centre. Whether you are interested in commuter trails, bike trails, hiking trails or simply walking trails, your input is needed.