Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 31st


Council fails community?

I am writing to convey my disappointment at our mayor and council for their decision to deny a variance permit for infill housing on an Alpine lot. The concept of infill housing was created in an effort to provide more Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) housing to our community, something we sorely need.

Alpine South was chosen as an ideal spot given its large lots and the infrastructure's ability to handle increased density of housing.

This particular application was supported by municipal staff and only had to go before council due to a bizarre stipulation that a lot can be too big to subdivide. I can understand a lot being to small to divide, but too big?

Councillor Jack Crompton stated, "Infill housing hasn't delivered what it was designed to deliver."

It was designed to deliver more WHA housing. This is what this lot would have done yet he voted against it. He also stated, "... being on council for me is about balancing competing (interests.)"

Again, he failed to see what his role should be. Council should always act in the best interest of the community, not in the interest of a few surrounding neighbours.

The community needs housing for our local families. I'm sorry for the neighbours if it means there is going to be some noise during construction and a few more people where you had an empty lot for the past 20 years.

Councillor Jen Ford also voted against the variance and this, for the life of me, I can't understand. Ms. Ford sits on the WHA board and ran for council on the platform of increasing affordable housing for locals. This lot was an opportunity to house two local families while freeing up their existing housing for others.

Ms. Ford, I'd remind you that those of us who are established in this community, who own houses, who run our own businesses, we do not need your help. You were elected to be the voice of young Whistler families and yet you have failed to speak for them. They voted for you. I'm not sure why they should again.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden — clearly from her quotes in the Pique article (March 24), and from the footage of the council meeting — has something against infill housing. She did not vote on the variance placed before her, she voted against infill housing and thus did not perform her duty on that day.

She was not asked for her personal opinion on a bylaw that is already in place. She was asked to vote on a variance and she should have considered the best interest of the community she serves.

She also seems to think that with the Cheakamus and Rainbow developments in place there is no need for infill housing, which is akin to saying that we have a big enough inventory of WHA housing. Yet according to Marla Zucht of the WHA, we currently have 1,916 resident restricted units of which there are zero available for rent or resale.

Zero available and our council not only turns down this application but also moves to place a moratorium on any more infill housing applications.

Shame on all of you for being so out of touch with what is going on in our town. Shame on you for not looking out for what is best for Whistler because you got a few complaints from neighbours suffering from a severe case of nimbyism.

Ru Mehta

Glimpse into night-time operations

Loved the cover feature article (in last week's Pique, March 24).


Gave me a whole new appreciation for the grooming job while skiing Symphony and Harmony yesterday. That is a big area.

Are we going to find out how Whistler Blackcomb manages to serve 15,000-plus lunches a day?

Sofia Van Norden

Coat of Arms need more history

Doug Garnett's hysterically funny letter about the ridiculous coat of arms is priceless (Pique, March 24).

However, I have a much shorter reason why Whistler must not have a coat of arms: only towns that are well over 1000 years old deserve a coat of arms. 

The coat of arms of these towns usually had several versions through the centuries, and a basic version — the escutcheon — is used most of the time.  

Paris' escutcheon, below, is a typical example. 

The oldest coat of arms of Bordeaux, my birthplace, goes back to the days when Richard Coeur-de-Lion, the future King Richard I, spent time in Aquitaine during his teens years:

 The castle in the coat of arms doesn't exist anymore but the central gate, with a huge bell, is still around. The English King Richard II, by the way, was born in Bordeaux (Bordeu in those days) where he spent the first 10 years of his life. The first hospital in Bordeaux was built by order of Richard II, in the 1390s.

The full coat of arms is more complex, but it is based on the history of the city in the Middle Ages. (The town was settled by a Celtic tribe around 300 B.C. likely centuries before.) 

Bordeaux-Metropole has a simpler coat, based on the meandering course of the river flowing through the town.

Mr. J-L Brussac

Woodfibre green light a mistake

This letter was addressed to the The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

I cannot adequately express my anger, disappointment, and despair upon learning that you have given the green light for the proposed Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound, B.C.

The west coast is a long way from Ottawa, so perhaps you don't fully understand how the communities around Howe Sound have been fighting to stop this project over the last two years?

We have invited expert speakers to teach us about the potential impacts of this project locally, and how fracking impacts communities and First Nations in Northern B.C. We have attended dozens of council meetings and open houses related to the project. We have participated in five public comment periods in the last two years, reading more than 12,000 pages in 60 days as part of the B.C Environmental Assessments for the Woodfibre LNG and associated FortisBC pipeline proposals, which were irresponsibly held at the same time.

We have submitted the most public comments for any provincial environmental assessment process, with more than 90 per cent of submissions saying no to Woodfibre LNG.

Nearly 9,000 Howe Sound residents have signed the Howe Sound Declaration petition in opposition to Woodfibre LNG and its associated tankers and pipelines. Councils and Regional Districts around Howe Sound have all signalled strong opposition to the project through passed resolutions of Council. More than 200 volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours to stop this project, sacrificing careers, and personal time with family and friends.

Why are we so concerned? Credible and thoughtful experts have established that there will be significant negative environmental impacts if Woodfibre LNG proceeds. This project will kill our recovering herring stocks, set back the recovery of Howe Sound that we have worked so hard to achieve over the past four-and-half decades, pollute our air, impact our health and the health of our children, and endanger every citizen that lives along the LNG Supertanker route. Not to mention the upstream impacts of fracking in northern B.C., or that the total greenhouse gas emissions for this project from wellhead to burner tip directly contravenes Canada's COP21 commitment to reduce GHG emissions. Yet apparently you don't seem to think there will be any adverse environmental impacts from Woodfibre LNG? You have not done your due diligence.

In the lead up to the election, Justin Trudeau promised: ''We will make environmental assessments credible again.'' We have not experienced a credible environmental assessment process for the Woodfibre LNG project.

Instead, you relied on the weak Federal EA process that was gutted after the previous Harper government passed omnibus bill C-38.

In your approval statement, you stated, "The federal government also carried out additional consultations with the public and Indigenous groups." How? By giving us less than a week's notice that we have yet another public comment period to go through with 21 days to review a highly questionable document compiled by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on upstream greenhouse gas emissions?

And then giving the project your official okey dokey while you were on vacation, before staff at the CEAA could even upload all 1,300 comments to the website, let alone read them, or validate the scientific concerns we have raised about the CEAA's dodgy greenhouse gas assessment. This is not meaningful public consultation.

You also state, "The Woodfibre LNG Project underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views."

I counter that the provincial environmental assessment process has been a complete sham. This stems from the fact that the provincial ministers responsible for issuing the B.C. Environmental Assessment Certificate have a conflict of interest as the B.C. Liberals have a mandate to develop LNG export facilities. This seriously undermines the integrity of the process.

And why the big rush? We were told by MP Jonathan Wilkinson that you had no deadline to make a decision on the Woodfibre LNG project. Meanwhile, you've granted a three-month extension on the Pacific Northwest LNG project proposed for Prince Rupert.

Why hasn't Woodfibre LNG been granted the same amount of time to allow you to better engage with the communities around Howe Sound and fully understand the impacts of this project? Your rushed decision at best is uneducated and at worst grossly negligent.

As Justin Trudeau said, "while governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission."

Right now, the communities around Howe Sound are outraged. We will do whatever it takes to stop Woodfibre LNG.

Tracey Saxby
Concerned citizen of SquamishCo-Founder of My Sea to Sky