Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 2nd


Speak up to stop logging in Whistler

The residents of Whistler need to be aware that we are about to lose an area of forest around the mouth of Wedge Creek, and the northern end of our Comfortably Numb trail.

Some of this area is old-growth forest, and is part of the largest contiguous block of old growth near our community. In reality this forest stretches from the boundaries of Blackcomb Mountain through to Wedge Creek and contains stands of cedar marked for cutting. As such we can bet that this forest is home for several important species, and some species at risk. 

Members of AWARE, of WORCA (which helped to construct the Comfortably Numb Trail in the first place), those community members who see logging here in Whistler as an industry of the past, and especially those living on the west side who will see some of this for years to come, need to get active on this.

There is an assumption that you were informed of this before.

If the above is a surprise it is not our fault, you were not informed.

Six cut-blocks visible from our community, partially in old-growth forest, are about to be logged. 

The fact that this area is to be logged by the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) — Whistler's and our partner's community forest — does not make it any different than if it were to be logged by any other forest company.

And while there is no indication from the CCF website that these cut-blocks will be visible — or not — from our valley's west side (that is, from homes in Wedge Estates, Emerald, Rainbow and Alpine Meadows) it certainly looks as if most if not all will be, and thus they will have a negative visual impact on our community for years to come.

I believe our community has not had a real opportunity to make an informed choice about what we are giving up, and what benefit we are receiving.

My expectation of our mayor and council is that they inform the community if this choice has been made and if the benefits and losses have been considered and communicated.

In the mayor's 2011 campaign she went on record as saying that "Whistler cannot be in the business of logging old-growth forest," and in 2014 identified the community forest as our main environmental challenge.

At that time every candidate elected agreed that we should not be logging old growth.

I was both a member of — and for a time, the chair of — the Forest and Wildlands Advisory Committee (FWAC) to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) during the several years that we debated about, and lobbied for, a community forest.

The major advantages for the community forest were (as outlined in the excellent community forest website at www.cheakamuscommunityforest.com) the gaining of control by the community of what was logged, how it was logged, some negotiation in the annual allowable cut, and the enabling of more controlled thinning in areas that could threaten the town site in a time of forest fires. This, of course, may have been an illusion.

The major disadvantages we considered are not as well outlined in the same website. One of the biggest concerns was saddling a future RMOW council with looking like a forest company, which is certainly a possibility with this new logging venture.  The final structure for the Cheakamus Community Forest was to have a board independent of both FWAC and the RMOW council. If the CCF board does not answer to FWAC and thus to council then do we really have a community forest at all?

Another concern was, of course, dealing with the Ministry of Forests and their prescribed annual allowable cut (AAC). 

We spent several meetings debating whether the ministry would or could face the political backlash of taking back a community forest if we consistently cut far less than our AAC. We debated the inadequacies of the ministry's definition of what was old growth, and considered the unsightly blocks above Alpine Meadows, and to the west of Green Lake, that were only just recovering 50 years after the logging, and still visible within the Whistler boundaries.

We talked of a community forest that was a recreational forest and a carbon sink even when these ideas did not fit with those of the Ministry of Forests.  This was in a day when Whistler was not considered as influential to the overall government coffers as it is today, yet we still asked the question of whether a government in power would or could force Whistler to log.

Interestingly, other B.C. towns are now asking about keeping their community forests for carbon credits.

Clearcuts visible from our town, and any logging of old growth were just two of the issues what we were trying to avoid by getting a community forest.

The Wedge cut-blocks impinge on the Comfortably Numb trail, which was subsidized by the RMOW, and which expands our recreational draw for both hiking and biking.

The cut block at higher elevation will take us back to the days when you had to drive through a view-scape of logging.

Under this plan there will be a renewal of roads originally constructed decades ago, (for much smaller logging trucks), that are now overgrown, and some new roads as well. Roads, are at least as damaging to the overall environment as clearcuts, and can radically change the travel patterns of sheltered species.

All of this to what end?

The amount of net cash gain for all of the community forest scarcely amount to the taxes on a half dozen of the homes that will be affected. I'm sure the net cash benefit will be far smaller than the amount of subsidy originally made by the RMOW for the trail construction.

The cash gain for our two partners will be equally small. The voters will unfairly condemn a council that had little say in this, and which may not know the extent of what is planned.

In all this looks like a game with a much higher downside than upside.

I know that we have partners in the CCF, and that this has sometimes led to differences. But we know that there is an environmental community among both of our partners, as well as a nurtured reputation of stewardship among all the first nations of B.C.

Leadership from the Whistler partner involves playing these cards, and as jobs are important to our partners, looking at real alternatives perhaps in forest-lands interpretation, or if we are concerned with logging jobs, then in the very necessary tree thinning that needs to go on.

The CCF can rightly say that it made attempts to communicate to the Whistler community that this logging was going to happen this spring. Open houses were held.

But the issue of these clearcuts being visible to residents on the west side, the issue of having a popular hiking and biking trail changed from being in the woods to being mostly in the woods, but also alongside clearcuts, and the issue of logging old growth was not advertised in the invitation to come to the open house meetings.

That these meetings were not well attended does not in my opinion mean that our community does not care if we log our valley again, or if we log old growth, and certainly does not mean that we were all informed.

In making this inquiry, it has become evident that the logging and roadbuilding at Wedge is to start in the next few weeks.

If we are to stop this we have to ask our council to get the CCF to stop this plan.

If we really have a community forest, then the community needs to have a chance to inform the council and thus the CCF board of its wishes. The goal in negotiating for a community forest truly was to gain control of what happened with our forested lands. What happens then is a council matter. 

If the Wedge Creek logging starts before the community can react, it would indicate to me that we should have stayed with the status quo of logging company ownership, and with the protests that changed them.  

We are not a logging community, we are a resort community. Most  of us are very proud of the advancements that we have made in this regard as well as in our opportunities for educating the sense of wonder of our many guests. Diminishing our beautiful valley just for the very outmoded concept of the AAC, for a very small revenue stream, as a way to subsidize fire management, or as a way to train workers in what one can see as a sunset industry, as well as the cutting of any old growth, is way too shortsighted.

Please let your councillors know where you stand. Ask for a re-examination of this plan. Time is of the essence.

Alan G. Whitney

Council needs to budget for Function safety

After looking through the proposed 2017-2021 Project Budgets documents, I was dismayed to see that there was not a cent going into implementing a plan (or even a study) into making pedestrian access safer in Function Junction (FJ), even though there is $650,000 earmarked for some fancy new toilets in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Are we taking a page out of Trump's book and making the toilets out of solid gold?

I have brought this up before with staff and council members, and to the RMOW's credit, a little remediation to the pedestrian access on the south side of the entrance off Highway 99 was done last year. Unfortunately, this only goes as far as the train crossing, then pedestrians are again facing the perils of the ever increasing FJ traffic, with just a thin strip of hard shoulder between them and concrete trucks etc.

FJ is home to many businesses now that service the growing number of young families that live in Cheakamus Crossing and Spring Creek amongst others. With the valley trails from both neighbourhoods converging at the entrance to FJ on the East side of Highway 99, would it not seem prudent to carry on a safe pedestrian route through FJ?

Does the Resort Municipality of Whistler not see that some sort of pedestrian safety review and actualization must be done for this area ASAP before some tragic accident occurs?

I urge you all to revisit this problem, and come up with some solutions to protect all of those who live, work and use the neighbourhood.

Harvey Lim

Concussion support group

Thanks to the Pique for bringing attention to our funding challenges.

We realized we forgot to provide the basics — A new session started Feb. 24 and is eight weeks long (not just March) and we will be accepting referrals for the first few weeks.

It is for those who have had a concussion and are still having symptoms after three months.

People can either register by calling SSCS at 1-877-892-2022 ext. 404 or just coming. We meet Fridays at the Whistler, Health Unit upstairs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It's free.

This is an opportunity to meet with others who are struggling to manage their post concussion issues. Most find it validates their experiences. The goal is self management using peer-professional facilitators (so they know what you've been going through) to empower you to take control of your own recovery.

We consider ourselves partners in recovery with many providers in town and try to consider the whole person in multiple contexts.

Jana Kapp, MScPT and Patricia Stoop, BScOT, Co-Facilitators

Guys like us...

For guys like my friends and I, it's absolutely essential to get from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 96.5 km/h) in less than 2.8 seconds. OK, if you want to be picky, that's 2.275507139 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes to pick up a loonie on the floor.

We can't stand the utter humiliation of some slob in his US$1.4 million Ferrari LaFerrari kicking sand in our face when the light turns green at Whistler's Village Gate Boulevard.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal entitled "What's the Latest Buzz in Electric Cars? Speed, Baby!" we no longer need to put up with the complete humiliation of such ego-shattering disasters, since we can simply purchase a stock production Tesla at just over 1/14 the price of the Ferrari, and leave the Ferrari owner in the dust with pasta all over his face, while at the same time feeling good about saving the environment and reducing global dependency on fossil fuels.

The Bible and ultimate authority on such matters is Motor Trend magazine, which has been testing and comparing automobile performance since the Model T Ford was introduced.

Owners of the Tesla Model S P110D no longer need to lose sleep at night in contemplation of the disaster of being upstaged by a Ferrari or Lamborghini, or anything similar manufactured anywhere.

With new engineering tweaks and advancing lithium battery technology, the Tesla Model S P100D is now the fastest production car ever produced, achieving 0 to 60 mph in just over 2.27 seconds.  Motor Trend's latest reported performance comparisons:

• Tesla S P100D — 2.27 seconds

• Ferrari LaFerrari — 2.43 seconds

• Porsche 918 Spyder — 2.45 seconds

• Porsche 911 Turbo S — 2.50 seconds

• Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 AV — 2.55 seconds

For little old ladies who don't give a Fig Newton about speed, Tesla engineers have thoughtfully provided a choice.

The vehicle's touch screen (formerly know as the "dashboard") allows two choices. If one touches "Ludicrous," this is followed by the question: "Are you sure you want to push the limits?"

Obviously, for guys like us, this is a pretty silly question, so we select: "Yes, bring it on!" For wimps, the selection will be "No, I want my Mommy."

I understand that neck braces are standard Tesla equipment.

Get in line. . .   just behind me.

Doug Garnett