Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 30th

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Dog situation out of control

We love living in the Emerald (neighbourhood), have two young children at Myrtle Philip Community School and get involved in the community, taking part in events such as the Terry Fox Run, the Valley to Peak race and Peak to Valley race. My wife volunteers at a local charity as well. We love it all!

What we don't love, what makes us really "sad," is the dog problem in Emerald.

It's a problem that the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) does not take seriously. Whether it's having to remove dog feces from our drive space up to three times a day, or being chased by a "lovable" local pit bull who is more often than not taking herself for a walk, the dog situation in Emerald is out of control.

We've written dozens of emails to the RMOW bylaw enforcement crew who come out and talk to the owners, who then alter their behaviour for a matter of weeks, only to inevitably revert to old habits. It's so utterly boring and miserable for those of us who want to enjoy a dog-shit free life and the prospect of a jog without being chased by somebody's lovable mutt.

Of course, the vast majority of the dogs wandering free are harmless — but what about the minority that aren't? Our kids have been chased by several local dogs while riding their bikes, and now take routes that avoid certain properties. Recently, we were walking to pick up the kids from the bus stop and a snow boarder walking ahead of us was severely harassed by a large black dog, which ran out into the road. It was only his calmness and sure-footedeness that prevented him being bitten (the dog was nipping at his heels), and he eventually managed to get past the dog.

We, less brave, turned back and found another route to the bus stop. Is that fair? Are these errant dog owners oblivious to this? Why are we all tolerating this?

What can be done? A complete cultural change needs to take place. There should be a zero tolerance to dogs off leash in residential neighbourhoods and a $1,000 fine for leaving dog mess. (What I'd really like done to these dog owners isn't printable).

Is that going to happen? Not a chance! Unfortunately, it's going to take a child being maimed before the RMOW enforces the bylaws that were put in place to avoid such disasters.

Ben and Camilla Heaton
Whistler

Disgusted by dog owners

Last week, when our one- and three-year-old grandchildren were visiting from Ontario, I was excited to take them to Tangletree, that imaginative play structure in Creekside.

My excitement soon turned to dismay; there was a pile of dog poop on the foam floor surrounding the structure and residues of another deposit underneath. Of course, it was difficult to keep the younger one away, so we had to leave.

This is not only an annoyance, but a health issue. As this structure is easily accessible to many young children, I called the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) Parks and Recreation department to request a cleanup. Not only was no cleanup done, today I noticed that there are several piles of dog poop at the base of the light-signpost at the entrance to this small park.

I am appalled that people would allow their dogs to relieve themselves in this area and, if it happened, would not stoop and scoop especially since there is a garbage can nearby. Shame on you, I am absolutely disgusted.

I know dogs can't read, but perhaps the RMOW should post a "dogs not allowed" sign indicating a fine as a deterrent. That might at least make dog owners think twice.

Charalyn Kriz
Whistler

No foolin' around solution here

April One Solutions Corp. (A1SC) is pleased to announce that it has solutions to a few of Whistler problems, namely, a location for the soccer pitch, elimination of the traffic bottleneck on the highway and making Whistler self sufficient in energy.

The council, with re-election in mind, is firmly behind the push to develop an all-weather soccer pitch for the few kids that might want to use it for a few weeks a year. The location proposed for this artificial turf field is at the old landfill site. This will likely add to the traffic congestion on the highway between Whistler Village and Function Junction. This location could also be subject to subsidence given that it was the former landfill site. Will the RMOW be liable for damage to the lungs of the young athletes caused by toxic gases emanating from the old landfill?

April One recommends that the new artificial turf soccer pitch be built on a platform floating on Green Lake, either on the north end where kids can enjoy the thrill of aircraft overhead arriving and departing the lake, or the newly acquired Parkhurst site could be developed to offer change facilities and a pavilion.

The southwest corner of the lake may prove to be a more popular location as parents could enjoy chatting while watching their kids from the bar at the 19th hole, spectators could watch from the south shore, the golf course and from the highway. The floating pitch has many benefits including use as a skating rink in the winter and a sunbathing spot in the summer now that Lost Lake has been discovered by so many people.

April One has also done preliminary work on another alternative location for the all-weather soccer pitch. This, a covered, yes, indoor soccer pitch, could be located under the proposed water slide development by Whistler Blackcomb near the village. This has the advantage of easy access, a central location with plenty of parking, year-round use and added height for the water slide. Changing rooms and showers could be shared with patrons of the water slide. Think about this — after their soccer game kids could enjoy the water slide. Kids' soccer in Whistler may get over subscribed!

To help reduce or eliminate traffic congestion on Highway 99, and not Route 99 as it has occasionally been misnamed by the Department of Highways, April One has teamed up with Whistler Access Drone Airways, WADA (not to be confused with the World Anti Doping Agency). Although this may take a few years, work is progressing to offer, in the not too distant future drone transportation from an area to be designated south of Whistler right to the heart of the Village, or Lot 6 on Blackcomb, or by the suitably levelled area by the Timing Flats, above Creekside on Whistler Mountain.

Initially, the service will operate locally while enhanced and more powerful drones are planned that will ferry up to four passengers and luggage between Vancouver and Whistler with southern locations at the international airport and downtown Vancouver. This is envisaged to cost significantly less for a fleet of drones, under $1 billion, than a high-speed rail tunnel, which could cost upwards of $20 billion. Whistler Access Drone Airways will enable passengers to enjoy vistas that delight the mind and feast the eyes both while going to Whistler and returning to Vancouver.

Last, but by no means least, April One with its partner Avail Resorts, intends to help Whistler fulfill its goal of being energy self sufficient. In the first phase it will extract the energy buried in the Shale Slope on Whistler Mountain. Do not fear there will be no oil derricks on the ski terrain but there will be minor bumps, more like large moguls, for the extraction pumps. These will in time be replaced by more advanced subterranean pumps.

Phase two will see the installation of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) on most structures on the mountains and on posts beside each lift tower.

In phase three, April One will coordinate and manage the deployment and installation of at least one VAWT on every building in Whistler, with more, of course, on tall structures such as hotels and lodges. In due course Whistler could become a net exporter of energy and will not need to turn lights off for a short time one day each year as a show of energy conservation.

We at April One Solutions Corp. look forward to working with the RMOW, the people of Whistler and with your readers to enhance the quality of life in Whistler and more importantly to bring a smile to the face of your readers.

Keith Fernandes
President, April One Solutions Corp.
Vancouver/Whistler

Look at leadership

Pique reporter Cathryn Atkinson said nice things about my work ethic ("Where are the candidates?" Pique, March 23) in (her editorial column) but I reluctantly challenge some of her assumptions.

Cathryn suggested that voters responded favourably to my participation in local events and my general accessibility. Her reasoning depends upon the connection between people's assessments of local candidates and how those same people actually vote. 

Any of us who run for public office cling to her assumption that we really make a difference by the things we do and by our character. In fact, I believe so strongly in the importance of the individual's contribution that I'm in the throes of completing a five-year project, a book on leadership to be published in May: Lighting Hearts on Fire–Seeking Excellence.

The reason I challenge Cathryn's rationale is that voters in our system tend to cast their votes in relation to the leader or the party, not for their local individual candidate. In fact, studies have shown that in Canadian federal elections, about 90 per cent of the votes are cast on the voters' assessment of leaders and parties. That leaves only about one out of 10 votes to be influenced by the actions and identities of the individual contestants.

Evidence of this pattern was clear in the 2015 federal election campaign in our riding, in which I faced three highly respected, well-spoken opponents, and lost to one of those, MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones. In the 13 all-candidate meetings that I attended, not once did a participant discuss the issue of client service as a factor in determining how to vote. Yet in all those public meetings, no one brought up constituent service, in either a positive or negative light. The discussion turned overwhelmingly on the conduct of leaders and the platforms of the parties.

I still believe that leadership is about character, values, and a sense of mission. Leaders who emphasize service over popularity contribute immensely to the health and welfare of society. Good leaders base decisions on their values, not necessarily on getting votes. 

Among other things, Cathryn's thoughtful article prompts us to look more closely at the roles of leadership, service, and our electoral system.

John Weston
Whistler/West Vancouver

Grooming 101

I'd like to reply to A. Cutter's Letter to the Editor (Pique, March 23) regarding grooming at Whistler Blackcomb.

I am one of those 70-plus groomers at Whistler Blackcomb who passionately do our job with little thanks night after night, as you proved.

We spend our nights tirelessly working away alone in what can sometimes only be described as highly dangerous and exposed conditions to give our guests the best we can, because we care. Whilst I understand your frustration that you may have when you want to ski fresh powder in bounds on every run, away from the trees, you have, however, missed quite a few points that you don't seem to understand.

Firstly, Whistler Blackcomb has roughly 8,171 acres of inbounds terrain that is made up of approximately 200 runs. We, within the Whistler Blackcomb grooming department, groom nightly approximately 100 runs on a perfect condition night, equating to between 1,500 to 1,600 acres. Now my math isn't great but that I think equates to roughly 19 per cent of our inbounds terrain that is groomed on a good night.

As soon as conditions turn challenging with varying temperatures, wetter snow or high levels of snow fall, early or late season conditions, we actually achieve quite a bit less than that as our work takes longer due to the snow quality and a variety of other issues.

You mention fuel costs and consumption — I am glad you bring this up. I'm not sure where you are getting your facts from, if anything, I would like to point out that fuel consumption per hour has actually dropped due to more efficient machinery and better operating policies.

So, in reality, our fuel consumption has remained the same over the past five years, but the acreage has increased somewhat as we can now groom more acres per hour with the same fuel and crew size thanks to more efficient Snowcats.

As well, the quality of grooming has improved with the purchase of these new technologically advanced Snowcats. 

Here's a couple of other factors. I have no idea what the ratio of beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert skiers are that visit Whistler Blackcomb, but I can guarantee that the beginner-intermediate ratio is far, far higher than the 19 per cent of acreage that we groom, the acreage that they need to enjoy, learn and grow within the appropriate terrain suited to their ability.

Those users need that terrain!

On powder days there are many logistical reasons for grooming some of that powder. Every lift station needs to be serviced, upload- and off-load-ramps need to be re-graded, maze areas cleaned out and re-graded, patrol toboggan routes flattened, lift lines dug out, AC debris moved, snowmaking hydrants cleared, snowmaking production pushed out, heli pads re-graded, patrol avalanche control stores and facilities made accessible, operation snowmobile routes created, restaurant accesses cleared, car park access areas packed out, bridge crossings lowered, terrain parks re-packed, race training areas re-packed — the list goes on.

Equally as important on a powder day is re-grooming or flattening that beloved powder in certain key areas. Now, yes, it can be sad to see for some, but the reality is that we are a busy set of mountains and if we didn't there would be no terrain for beginner or intermediates to ski on powder days. If we left it, it would become big bumps that are unsafe and unsuitable for them.

We try and tie in servicing our operation departments with the list mentioned above into certain runs that we re-pack for the beginner-intermediates, we try to groom smartly and not take away all the powder.

We don't want to slay the beloved powder any more than you want us to, but in some places we have to for what is probably a large percentage of our guests and our operational requirements. I think honestly there is more than enough powder terrain to service the needs of those who have the ability to enjoy powder skiing.

In bounds skiing at Whistler Blackcomb is for every ability level, and not just one ability group, we have to be able to offer something for everyone. There are even some people out there who enjoy skiing groomed black diamond runs such as Raven or Upper Catskinner, I know I do, and I live for the powder!

Another thing that you don't realize is actually what happens to snow when it gets skied on. Every time you make a turn, the snow gets pushed to the edge of the run and downhill. Have you ever skied places like Crystal Glide, The Rescue Road late on a powder day? This is hugely prevalent at Whistler Blackcomb where we are a very busy operation.

If we did not groom those runs daily they simply wouldn't last. We have to groom the main runs that we do to re-build them, pull the snow back up to the break overs and back into the middle of the run, there is no choice, otherwise you would have no main runs to ski. Probably 80 per cent of our job as groomers is maintaining these runs, re-building them nightly, Ridge Runner is an absolute classic example of this.

You also mention new management, again I am not sure where you get your facts from — the management team is exactly the same operationally as for the last how ever many years, Vail owns Whistler Blackcomb but the day-to-day running is exactly the same as it has always been.

Whistler Blackcomb reacts and tries to service and please all of our guests and takes great care in listening and trying to make the best decisions for the majority.

Sadly, as with everything in life, one can't please everyone. I think with the grooming we are doing a good job, a damn good job, and we always strive to be more efficient, safer, better servicing and producing the best product we can.

It is not as easy and as simple as cruising around in fancy, red machines waving them at the snow — it's actually an incredibly complex job.

Christopher S. Walker
Whistler

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