Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 29


Protecting my livelihood 

With the recent story on the taxi industry and dealing with complaints, I'm here to defend the industry along with front-line workers of Whistler (Pique, March 15, "Taxi companies respond to complaints").

Whistler is running at 110 per cent, (and) it seems with all the illegal Airbnbs operating in town, no one can get a hotel at a decent rate. I hear this in the taxi all the time.

We're tapped out, burnt out and sick and tired.

So why does everything get blamed on the taxi companies when you have to wait an extra 20 to 30 minutes for a taxi? We're busy busting our asses out here and go non-stop without (even) a proper washroom break. And with Resort Cabs losing some of its drivers, it has put a strain on Whistler Taxi doing transfers to the airport.

This is what weekends are like. The town is sold out and will be during Easter over the next two weeks, so all I can say is plan ahead to get to work on time, to catch your shuttle on time, etc.

I can only speak for the daytime business since I drive days. 

And I'm sick of (being asked) why Uber (isn't) here from the Americans. We're not L.A., New York or Chicago. We're a town of 12,000 taxpayers (that) balloons to 50,000 (in) peak times. Not in May or June, though. 

What the general public doesn't understand about driving for Uber it's not like you can jump in your car and start making money without a background check, regular maintenance, and commercial insurance that's maybe $9,000 a year. And (you can't have a vehicle older than eight years old). 

And it's not (just) the taxi industry that (is) short staffed due to the housing shortage and being able to afford to live here. We're all maxed out and burnt out in this town, and it's time to put the brakes on for a bit.

The solution for less wait times is perhaps taxi sharing. We are driving so many single riders to their jobs this season, which puts a strain on the taxis as well. 

For example, if you live in Brio staff and both work at 8 a.m., why not share a cab? Two transactions is OK with me in my cab. 

It's about being smarter when it's full-on busy in town. 

Bottom line is Uber won't work here and I pride myself in giving proper customer service. 

John Ryan

2018-19 Edge Cards lose important feature

Prospective buyers of any Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card product need to be alerted to the loss of an important feature.

Previous Edge Cards included the feature that any remaining unused days on the card at the end of the season could be used for summer sightseeing.

However, for the upcoming 2018-19 season, this feature has been discontinued, and is buried in the small print.

This is a huge loss for Edge-Card purchasers. Most Edge Card users I know are unaware of this loss, and rely on the ability to use up days during the sightseeing season, as an important part of their decision to purchase the card.

Buyer beware!

Dave Milligan

Employers providing housing need support

As a long time resident and owner in Whistler, I am appalled at the attitude of our council regarding the (Nester's Crossing) application (Pique, March 8).

It has been recognized for many years that we have a severe employee housing shortage. When we built our home here 30 years ago, this was recognized by the council and administration, as the zoning bylaw at the time allowed all single-family homes to install a basement suite to help alleviate this shortage.

How is it detrimental to our community to allow employers to build employee housing on their property? In talking to business owners, I've been told they are having a very difficult time finding workers in large part due to housing shortages.

Last week, I spoke to a restaurant owner who had to reduce hours and menu (choices) because of staff shortages.

Come on, council, you can be part of the solution instead of standing in the way of those who want to move forward.

I am not a business owner in Whistler, but I do understand their problem and agree with Bryce Anderson's letter from last week (Pique, March 22, "Nesters Crossing rezoning clarification").

Dave Brand

Environmentally friendly Whistler?

Apparently, Canadians use an average of 329 litres of water per person per day, 900 litres per household.

Why are we wasting all this water? Why is a grey-water system not mandatory in every household and hotel in Whistler? If we are using this much water, most of it is grey water, perfectly suitable to water our gardens and trees with, so long as you use earth-friendly products—it's a win-win for us and the environment.

Personally, if I knew every time I showered, washed my laundry and dishes that I was watering my garden, I would be thrilled. Many people in Whistler do not have gardens, but the natural forest we live in sure could use some extra water during our hot, dry months.

Rain barrels should be mandatory as well—the rain barrels we have around our house fill up really fast when it rains. (It's) beautiful water that I capture and use on my garden.

Hotels apparently use 462 litres of water per person per night. The amount of grey water in the village must be staggering, and I imagine it could water every park and all the landscaping in the village and then some. A hotel of 400 people, in one day, uses enough water to fill a six-metre by 12-metre, 2.4-metre deep swimming pool every day.

(I'm) not sure about every household in Whistler, but in our house, I have to wait quite some time before the water in my kitchen sink and shower is hot enough to use. Instead of mindlessly watching that water go down the drain, I put a bucket in the sink and capture that water for plants, cooking, drinking and laundry. There must be a better system and this should be mandatory in building codes.

Anyone out there with grey-water systems knowledge, please help me—I want to water my veggie garden and trees instead of wasting water. There are so many ways to save water, we just need the will.

And now to make things worse, we are considering putting in a toxic soccer field.

Beside the environmental damage, did anyone take into consideration the health of our children? There are many articles about the health risks from these carcinogenic chemicals you want your children to play on.

Try arsenic, acetone, benzene, chromium, lead and mercury to name a few. If it is made of crumb rubber (recycled tires), the small black pellets are constantly released and kids bring it home in their clothes and shoes, when laundered end up in our water systems. If they get cut during practice, these pellets end up in the wound.

Another website states plastic fields get very hot and should be watered down, and weeds can still grow on the fields, so bring out the pesticides. I am actually sad parents would even consider letting their children play on a toxic field and seriously glad that when our kids played soccer growing up here, they were not exposed to that.

We need to make some serious changes in Whistler, we are poised to take the chance and become an amazing eco-green, healthy place to live, or we can carry on as is and become a grossly polluting, energy-sucking, garbage-creating, water-wasting tourist trap.

Which will it be?

Karen Kay

Oil on Water makes for troubled mother's milk!

Oil and water don't mix like peaches and cream, even if served on fine china by a scientifically correct, just society.

Father Pierre (Trudeau), it may be remembered by son Justin, observed that an evil magician's apprentice, with a magical conservative sleight of hand could divide the national resources from federal civil, fiduciary obligations, leaving the spoils for the provinces to manage without any civil responsibility attached.

Since the (divided-they-fall) agenda, each province staked out and managed their own resources. For Alberta, it was single-mindedly oil; for B.C., it was conserving the pristine recreational environment resting since 1858 on stewardship and good governance under law promised by James Douglas. (It was) to be passed in a maintained state on to the next generation.

That is our renewable, marketable world treasure. That promise of stewardship and use of heritage assets by B.C., still lies with Canada, however, since federal creation of the reservation in 1876.

Under what conditions and for what civil purpose may these assets be used and by whom going forward, as was promised by the Crown, is still at issue.

All sincere citizens should join with all their hearts and souls to stand with our First Nations brothers and sisters in our fight to conserve at least our resource, the treasured, pristine environment from un-granted corporate abuse. The time is long overdue!

Bernhard Thor
Seton Portage

Political shake-up needed

This weekend, as I sat in my office looking out at a beautiful bluebird day, I wondered if we really lived in a democracy—federally and municipally.  

Last week, the Senate debated the passage of the bill to legalize cannabis in Canada, and I had the misfortune of watching it. Here is an example of some of the comments from those unelected lawmakers:

• "Condominium and apartment dwellers are grappling with the prospect of their homes being infiltrated by the odour of second-hand cannabis smoke," said Senator Judith Seidman (um ... you live in a smog filled city).

• B.C. Senator Yonah Martin wondered if Canadian servicemen would be allowed to show up for duty high and wondered if teachers would have to tolerate high students if they were of legal age to consume (um ... do they show up drunk now? Oh ... her base salary is $132,300, and according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation she'll be eligible for her full pension at age 67, eight full years before the mandatory age of 75, which she hits in 2040. If Martin retires at age 67, and lives to age 80, her total salary and pension will be a little over $5.2 million in today's dollars. That's excluding expenses, benefits and any additional remuneration she might receive if, say, she becomes chair of a committee).

• Senator Nancy Greene Raine wondered if legal marijuana might impact Canadian universities' ability to recruit international students. (She's a Whistler hero. A Canadian hero. Does she know that a cannabis strain called Chemo was designed by David Suzuki to help cancer patients back in the early '70s?).

• "What will (parents) say when their 12-year-old suggests growing cannabis?" asked Senator Marie-Francoise Megie, who is a Canadian physician. "It will be legal, after all. How will parents ever notice that one or two marijuana buds are missing from one of their ... plants?"

• "It's a piece of shit. It doesn't protect people; it will not exclude organized crime from the production. So, most senators say this bill was written badly," Conservative Quebec Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (said).

• Senator Denise Batters ... oh, good lord, I can't even start.   

Twenty-eight members of the Conservative Caucus (and Mike Duffy) voted to prevent the legalization of cannabis in the Senate. These are unelected officials. I didn't vote for them. You didn't. We Canadians have people appointed to power. How is this not despotic?

OK. Now let's look at our little hamlet in the mountains.

Why the closed doors? A couple of weeks ago the Pique reported on a council meeting describing it as "tensions boil over." 

I watched the video from my surf spot in Hawaii and mused, 'what a mess.' Councillor Sue Maxwell made some key comments about the budget and was shot down by the Mayor and the CAO.

What happened to Robertson's Rules and why is the CAO attacking his employer? Beyond that, it was interesting that she said she had made comments behind closed doors. Why do we have closed-door meetings in Whistler?

Well, Section 90 of the Community Charter is clearly being abused. I would recommend that every voter in Whistler read the charter. As an example, how is it that every meeting of the Economic Partnership Initiative Committee is behind closed doors? It's not like Whistler has any competition to be worried about if you look at our growth and economic metrics.  

How many closed-door meetings are there? We will never know. Notwithstanding, it seems like every time I email the RMOW asking about something fiscal that I am sent a blank Freedom of Information request form. How is this not despotic?

Doveryai, no proveryai (trust, but verify). Companies that trade publicly must be transparent by law to their shareholders. How is it that our town does not have to be transparent to its shareholders, the taxpayers?

This fall, we need to make some sweeping changes at the hall. We need to bring back open government and put an end to this Star-Chamber type secrecy that is eating away at our democracy in Whistler. 

And we need to get rid of the Senate. Or at least make it accountable.  

Patrick Smyth

Breaking news!

Here are some news scoops ahead of their publication date of April 1, 2018.

Please be assured that artificial intelligence, AI, was not used to access this information, just normal human intelligence.

A special and surprising news leak from Vail Resorts' (VR) head office in Broomfield, Colo., USA announcing the primary reason for acquiring Whistler Blackcomb, aside from its many attributes, was the discovery of oil and natural gas on the Shale Slope on Whistler.

Vail Resorts intends to tap the vast resource of natural gas and clean, very light-grade, ready-to-use oil accessible on the shale slope and use it to power its lifts, vehicles, and facilities at Whistler and Blackcomb.

Vail Resorts is well aware that reliance on the existing electricity supply from BC Hydro has resulted in interruption of lift service, stranding passengers either on the lifts, in the lift line up and without food in the Roundhouse Lodge. Vail Resorts intends to replace the BC Hydro supplied electricity with local generators at each lift, powered by fuel from the Shale Slope. To allay patrons' fears about pollution, VR states that the smoke will be white and will seed clouds to produce even more snow.

Any surplus energy will be sold to offset the costs of the new lifts and improvements that had been announced earlier. No new trenching will be required to get the oil and gas to Creekside as VR intends to lay the pipe in Fitzsimmons Creek.

Yes, VR realizes that this may raise the temperature of Alta Lake, which could open the lake to aquatic pursuits year round, negating the need for a waterpark on the mountains as had been previously envisaged.

Kinder Morgan too is scheduled to make an announcement on April 1.

It has decided to abandon its new Trans Mountain pipeline and will instead build a new pipeline along the Mackenzie Valley to the Arctic Ocean. Kinder Morgan's scientists and forecasters believe that through their efforts global warming will proceed at an accelerated pace, which should render the Mackenzie River and the Arctic ports free of ice by the time the pipeline is built. This will enable large, ocean-going vessels to load the bitumen and transport it to Asia through the Northwest Passage.

Closer to home, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), realizing that it has been ineffective in eliminating or even reducing the number of illegal nightly rentals, able-bodied people parking in the spots reserved for the disabled and random acts of vandalism, has decided to introduce a bounty, kickback or reward to those citizens who report offenders. The reward offered is 50 per cent of the fines levied.

This could soon mount up allowing concerned citizens and enterprising locals to obtain funds through this program to buy a home in Whistler.

Owners of illegal nightly rentals are to be fined $250 per night for first-time offenders, while those able-bodied people parking in spots designated for the disabled will face a first-time fine of $150.

Fines for vandalism will have a minimum of $100 for first-time offenders. All penalties are to double and continue to do so for repeat offences.

The RMOW estimates that this incentive program will eventually be a money earner for the RMOW.

Keith Fernandes

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