Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 29th, 2012

Take responsibility


I am deeply troubled with another death of a young person after an evening of drinking and socializing with friends. Perhaps "friends" need to take a deeper look at caring and being responsible. I am certain that each of us would like to think that if we were in a position of not being able to make wise decisions, that our friends or even others would step in — not just say it is not my responsibility.

Perhaps if someone had answered the text message, or phone calls, even though they were in the wee hours both of these young people would be alive.

As a parent, I can tell you I have answered my phone in the wee morning hours, driven many young people home and even encouraged them to sleep it off at my house.

Let us all step up, let us all care, let us all be willing to be accountable.

Cynthia Hood


Second local orthopedic surgeon a must

Thank you for Alison (Taylor's) March 15th (Pique) article that highlights the work performed at the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC). We are very proud of our staff and the hard work and caring they exemplify. We may not have all the tools some of the bigger centres do but we deliver an exceptional product with what we have, especially in the management of acute orthopedic trauma.

I noted with interest (Pique reporter's) John French's timely article about Dr. Pat McConkey's impending retirement. We are extremely concerned about this. Orthopedic injuries represent 40 per cent or roughly 8,000 patient visits annually at WHCC. Dr. McConkey has provided Sea to Sky (STS) residents with excellent access to expert orthopedic surgical care for many years, especially with acute ligamentous knee injuries. He has performed more than 3,500 knee surgeries in his career! If VCH doesn't approve the hiring of a local orthopedic surgeon to replace Dr. McConkey, Dr. Alix Brooks-Hill will be left alone to practice orthopedic surgery in rural isolation in the corridor. With only one surgeon, more patients will either have to travel to the city or be seen less frequently and inconsistently by city surgeons who rotate through the corridor.

For the past five years our corridor has been well served by two LOCAL orthopedic surgeons with specialty training in sport surgery (Dr. Brooks-Hill and Dr. McConkey). To maintain the integrity of the LOCAL orthopedic program, the VCH administration was initially asked to engage in succession planning for Dr. McConkey over four years ago. Over a year ago, the medical staffs of the three communities in the corridor endorsed a corridor orthopedic plan that involved replacing McConkey, as well as increasing LOCAL orthopedic trauma surgery at Squamish General Hospital. The VCH administration still has not responded.

The operating room costs of replacing Dr. McConkey are small in relation to the positive economic impact it will have for patients in the corridor whose livelihood depends on physical activity. To maintain a robust LOCAL orthopedic surgery service, Dr. McConkey must be replaced by a second LOCAL orthopedic surgeon to join Dr. Brooks- Hill.

Bruce Mohr, MD, Chief of Medical Staff,

Whistler Health Care Centre

Orthopedic surgeon must be replaced

I am deeply concerned after reading the article by John French last week (Pique March 15) re: Dr. Pat McConkey's Retirement.

Dr. McConkey has had a profound effect on the residents of the Sea to Sky corridor, not only providing excellent surgical repairs of knees, but also running clinics twice weekly within our community. It is simply unacceptable to not replace his position as he retires.

We continue to be a growing community full of very active, and subsequently injured people, and to have only one local orthopedic surgeon is nothing short of scary. Having multiple surgeons drive up less frequently from Vancouver to see and operate on patients less consistently will inevitably affect the consistency of care and should simply not be an option.

We need to have Dr. McConkey's position replaced by one surgeon as he retires or a huge hole will be left in our already burdened health care system.

Maggie Phillips-Scarlett, Physiotherapist and Strength & Conditioning Coach


Orthopedics in Sea to Sky region unique

I hope that Dr. (John) Maynard and his colleagues at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) realize the uniqueness of the Sea to Sky corridor as it relates to orthopedic health care and have our best interests in mind.  

The corridor has a young (and young-at-heart) active population that results in more than our share of accidents. Having had the good fortune to be repaired by both Dr. (Pat) McConkey (ACL) and Dr. (Alix) Brooks-Hill (rotator cuff), I can safely say my level of care was second to none.  

It would be sad to see VCH make decisions that would negatively impact our great local care by creating longer wait times, more trips to Vancouver and overloading our existing health care providers.

Lee Harrison


There is still plenty of wilderness

A writer last week (Pique March 22) felt that the Spearhead Range should not have the three proposed mountain huts built, citing that it was wilderness and should not be developed, and that it may contribute to accidents.

I would like to point out that the Spearhead Range is hardly wilderness anymore, and yes, it is dangerous whether there are huts or not. Just over the back from Whistler or Blackcomb, the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges have become accessible backcountry, near-country, or slack-country. Like it or leave it.

The range is now most commonly used for day trips by going up the ski lifts on either mountain, and if you can't decide until you are up there, take the Peak 2 Peak. There is also a trail up Fitzsimmons Creek to Russet Lake and a planned trail to Singing Pass from Cheakamus Lake.

On a sunny day with low avalanche danger, you will count more than 200 backcountry users spread out from Blackcomb to Whistler around the horseshoe shaped range, and loads of heli-skiers will be jockeying for the powder on the Blackcomb side. Most users are within seven kilometres of both ski areas, but many parties are on the world classic 36km Spearhead Traverse, or the steep lines of the north faces. The traverse record is about four hours and long day trips around the loop have become the norm. With all this activity in the Spearhead and backcountry skiing booming, the Whistler area has already become an internationally recognized alpine playground, along with the likes of Chamonix and Zermatt.

I think it is best to concentrate this heavy self-propelled backcountry use in this portion of Garibaldi Park. There is still plenty of deep wilderness opportunities in most of the rest of the park, try the McBride Traverse for example — entirely visible from Whistler Mountain — not to mention the rest of the vast Coast Mountains themselves.

Scott Flavelle


Arts in the community

For the past 11 of my 16 years in town I have been living as a full-time professional artist. It has not been an easy career path but it has been extremely enjoyable. Over the years many other artists have asked "how did you do it?" and to be honest, regardless of the amount of time and effort I put in, the Whistler Arts Council has always been a huge help since day one.

The arts council has created a wide variety of avenues for artists of all disciplines that have helped me and many other artists progress and follow our artistic paths and dreams.

Because of its continued help over the years I recently decided to become a member on the board of directors for the arts council to try to give back to the Arts community as it has given to me. At present we have a REALLY strong board with some very driven and influential members who are all doing all they can to create opportunities to expose and assist the incredibly talented people in our community.

Whistler's municipal council is presently working on a Cultural Tourism Plan and now, more than ever, is the time to show the community how important arts and culture is to us and how many amazing artists and performers we have in Whistler.

I am asking anyone who has an interest in the arts be it visual, literary, performance, fashion or any other medium please come out to an informal meet-and-great session on April 3 at the GLC (8 p.m.) to share your ideas on how to help the events we produce work better for you and for the community as a whole.

This is not a stuffy lecture or a boring sit down meeting. It will be a great opportunity to meet other artists in the community and to help us ensure that arts and culture in the Sea to Sky flourishes, not only locally, but also on the world stage as well.

I really hope to see you all there. Art is my life and the community of Whistler has always felt like home. Let's get together and build on the many years of the Whistler Arts Council's hard work and success.

P.S. Punch and Pie!

Chili Thom


A local's dream of fresh air

This letter is in response to Mike Roberts, yet another member of Whistler's community that doesn't seem to grasp the whole story of the asphalt situation at Cheakamus Crossing. (Pique March 22 Page 20 article 7.4c of my disclosure statement (dated Oct7, 2008) reads: "The development is adjacent to an operational asphalt and gravel facility which may create associated noise, dust, odours and activity. The Municipality is currently discussing the possibility of relocating the asphalt operation with the owner of the asphalt and gravel facility."

First and foremost, when buyers had an opportunity to visit the site it was under very strict circumstances (due to Olympic security) and coincidentally the plant was not operating during either open house visits. No one could really understand the level of toxic fumes belching into the neighbourhood.

"...Associated noise, dust, odours and activity," comes nowhere near close to describing how intense the smoke and toxic fumes are spewing into our neighbourhood. If my disclosure statement reflected reality and stated, "noise and fumes like a revving diesel 18-wheeler, three feet from your head," (no I'm not exaggerating) then I probably wouldn't have signed on the dotted line and paid my first deposit.

When the neighbourhood found out that, "discussing the possibility of relocating" was a muni euphuism for, "move a little bit over there so we can legally sell one lot and give the operator rights to more land," Cheakamus Crossing (led by Tim Koshul) felt compelled to call this injustice to light and tell everyone in the valley how wrong the municipality's approach was. No one can really understand why the plant could stay here when almost all of its staff commute here from Squamish, and all of the materials made into asphalt are actually trucked in from the other quarry, which Mr. Silveri has part ownership of, just north of the Green Lake turn-off.

During this long struggle our neighbourhood actually saved the taxpayers $400,000, which was the "legal fees" being paid to Mr. Silveri through a secret closed-door deal which, as we found out later, was meant to help pay for his new asphalt plant. So in my view the municipality actually only spent $200,000 over this debacle so far.

It truly is distressing when after all these facts are revealed someone has the nerve to say, "why don't you just move then?" After waiting eight years on the Whistler Housing Authority list and the possibility of losing my apparently non-refundable deposit, another muni/Whistler Development Corporation statement during the whole debacle, my wife and I decided to trust in the powers that be would have all of our best interests in mind. Unfortunately moving in was somewhat forced on us and now I find it highly unlikely that anyone could be duped into buying my home now.

I understand that this has been a contentious situation for both sides of the drama. As a resident of Cheakamus Crossing I can say honestly is that all I'm asking for is what I believed I was buying. I believed that the municipality's goal for our neighbourhood was that the council would find a way to make our neighbourhood a place that we can, like all of the rest of Whistler, enjoy fresh air to breathe any time I'd like. I hope that that any Whistler local, like Mike Roberts, could understand that all we want is what we were sold. A chance to enjoy Whistler from our own home isn't too much to ask.

Derek Maxheleau

Cheakamus Crossing

A big Community thanks

Stressful times bring out the best in our community.

Last Saturday, March 17, our new puppy Koda went missing from our driveway at about 11:00 a.m. We searched high and low — she had just vanished. Several people came over to help look and we contacted everyone we knew and got the word out as fast as we could. Still nothing. We never gave up hope.

We went viral with Koda's information. We hit Mountain FM (radio), Global TV, Craigslist, put up posters from Darcy to Vancouver, and hit all our email contacts, and they hit all their contacts and so on, it really did go viral. Every one helped in getting her back with us one week later.

It was quite amazing how our community and friends all pulled together and never gave up hope and were there to help. Some of the people that stand out, and there are many, are Kristie Broadbent from Bylaw — she helped with posters and never gave up and was very, very supportive, Steve LeClair and Jaquline Martin from the Whistler RCMP Detachment, who checked in with support and made sure Koda's picture was out to the other members and beyond, Heather Hamilton for getting the word out to the Municipal works yard staff and also helped put posters up, Laura Wetaski and Sherry Baker for getting the word out, Mountain FM for putting it on the radio several times, and Val Wong and Pascal from Le Gros for helping with posters and support. The list goes on from Darcy to Vancouver — everyone was on board.

We thank you all very, very much for helping to get Koda back home.

The Pantages Family


Hello Whistler dog parents

My name is Sophie. I am a big, white and black girl with long floppy brown ears, and a tail, which pretty much never stops wagging. People always tell me how pretty I am, and of course that's true. I absolutely love people, and I will try to lick as much of them as I can get to. The only thing is (and no offence intended) but I don't much like other dogs.

Well, I can get along okay with some of them, but not many. My mom never knows what I'll do when I meet another dog, (and neither do I) so she keeps me on my leash except when we are off in the back trails where I am not as likely to meet a fellow canine hiker. This is because she does not want your doggy pal to get nightmared by me.

So she and I would really appreciate if you could not let your off-leash dog come running and dashing up to me when I'm on my leash. This happens a lot and it freaks my mom out I can tell you! Even when she warns people by telling them I may fight, (I've never bitten anyone but it gets pretty scary) and asks them not to let their dog approach me, they often ignore her. Don't they know dogs are usually on a leash for a reason, and it's not me she worries about, but your dog.

Yesterday, right here on my own street, she shouted to another dog mom to come get her dog who was dashing towards me, and the other mom didn't do a thing — she even got all offended and said, "he's a nice dog, he won't do anything." My mom said a bad word under her breath.

I think she's doing something nice, to make sure your dog is safe from beautiful but temperamental me. So please, tell all the other dog moms and dads that it is good canine etiquette to not let your off-leash pals run up to us on-leash types.

Thanks, and see you on the trails. From a distance of course.

Sophie McGaw


Consider the alternatives before banning plastic bags

I have read a few letters proposing a ban on plastic bags in Whistler, and follow the ongoing debate in other ski towns in your "Out of Range" column.

Having previously worked for a recycling company I knew that the issue was not as straightforward as "ban bags, improve the environment." A recent BBC article summed up the statistics quite well (www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17027990).

It states that, "If a plastic bag is used just once, then a paper bag must be used three times to compensate for the larger amount of carbon used in manufacturing and transporting it, a plastic 'bag for life' must be used four times, and a cotton bag must be used 131 times."

I believe the best solution is not an outright ban, but instead a 10-cent levy per bag, with the proceeds going to the Centre for Sustainability.

Joe Bunn


Ski keys

Dear ski key owners, please remove your locks from the racks. I want to lock my board up. Whistler Blackcomb — if you would like some help removing all of the forgotten/lost key locks I will gladly donate my time and tools to do the job. Thank you. P.S. I love you Mother Nature.

Rolly Schultz