Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for the week of May 14th


Everyone's trails

It is with some concern that I read about someone who is having problems with mountain bikers on the Riverside trails.

I ride those trails a lot, and whenever I come across hikers, I stop and let them pass me. If they stop I go by them very slowly and thank them.

I have no idea about who these irresponsible mountain bikers are but I have a couple of suggestions. Next time you go hiking... step in front of them and block the trail.

Everybody has disc brakes these days; they'll stop. You can then proceed with educating them.

You would be really doing everyone a favour, because irresponsible people need to be educated by someone. Sort of, what you can do for this town, rather than what this town can do for you because you want this town to do a lot for you. (These are) everybody's inclusive trails, built with taxpayers' money and on public land...

They are everybody's trails.

Lyall Fetherstonhaugh


Nesters goes above and beyond

Last Friday my 22-year-old son was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes.

This came as a complete shock. Fraser and I have no history with the condition, therefore no idea how to deal with it.

Fraser lives in Whistler, and I live far north in Fort Nelson B.C., so apart from his fantastic friends, he was on his own in the village.

When Fraser left the doctor, and was released to the world, all he had was a prescription and the knowledge he was now diabetic.

The doctor suggested he go to Nesters Pharmacy to get everything he needed, so that's what he did.

Nesters was absolutely phenomenal. Jill (Hewitt) and Jenn (Dunkin) at the pharmacy have spent hours with him. Fraser had to start testing his blood, and injecting insulin that night.

He had to be made aware of new dietary restrictions, and required eating habits. Jill and Jenn took care of all that.

In addition they've phoned Fraser each morning since to follow up and advise on the coming day.

These two gems of Whistler have literally saved my son (he was very sick).

When I phoned to inquire if there was anything I could do to help out, they said no, "this is just what we do."

Thank-you Jill and Jenn, and Nesters Pharmacy. There may not be anything you will let me do, but I do know you'll have our business in Whistler for life!

Murray Abs

Fort Nelson

Road etiquette

I am noticing a lot more often that people don't seem to know that the speed limit between Whistler and Pemberton was raised last year to 90km/h.

I am finding more and more frequently that people are driving below 80km/h, and are shooting the nastiest looks when I pass them in the passing zones.

If you are incapable of driving the speed limits in optimum conditions (I understand in really crap weather things are different) I suggest carpooling, as it is incredibly aggravating to come around a blind corner and have to jam on my brakes because someone is going 60-70km/h.

It is a highway, people — use sense.

Speaking of which, there is an increasing number of road bikes on the highway, and while I am usually very happy to see people using green modes of transport I must point out the laws state you must ride single file, and on the shoulder, not two or three across in the middle of the lane.

Smarten up, people — you are on a bike with a helmet for protection, which won't do much against 1500+ lbs hitting you at speeds of 60-100 km/h.

I don't know about everyone else, but I for one do not want a human-bike combination hood ornament.

Neil Blair 


Whistler should be priority

While Whistler Blackcomb managed to increase revenues in the first half of the fiscal year — despite a 9.3 per cent decline in skier visits — the overall big picture for western ski resorts isn't great.

Obviously the lack of snow was an issue at most resorts along the south coast, but overall the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) is reporting an expected drop of 1.5 million skier visits compared to two years ago. That's about a 23 per cent decline in just two years.

It's hard to know exactly how much to blame the snowpack, from this winter and last. Whistler and the interior were more than capable of picking up the slack for most of the season, aided by a low Canadian dollar and poor skiing conditions south of the border. There were definitely options, but people weren't taking advantage of them. Why?

The economy and cost of the sport could be partly to blame. And maybe we're not bringing enough new skiers and snowboarders to offset our aging boomers.

And maybe, just maybe, federal funding cuts to the Canadian Tourism Commission have finally taken their toll, completely failing to promote Canada's winter destinations to the U.S. and the rest of the world.

In 2012, the CTC's budget was slashed by 20 per cent, forcing the agency to completely pull back on the U.S. tourism and leisure market.

It was a questionable decision given how important the U.S. market is to Canadian tourism, and the amount of competition out there for travel dollars. As well, the decision effectively stuck a stick in the spokes of the 2010 Olympic bandwagon, halting any momentum we might have gained from our investment of billions of dollars to host the Games.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is calling for a modest $35 million increase in funding for tourism, which is small potatoes compared to the current government's own advertising budget. It's also a program that will likely pay for itself if we can convince enough people that Canada is worth a visit — something that a low dollar no doubt helps.

While TIAC has not received the funding, some money may finally be on the way. Now that the oil sector has proven itself vulnerable, the federal government appears to be ready to invest in tourism once again. Kind of...

In April, the federal budget included a mention that the government will provide additional support for tourism. There was no dollar value attached, and it would be a kind of matching-funds program with tourism stakeholders. It's not the same as replacing the lost funding, but at this point something is better than nothing.

While great snow no doubt helps to bring people to B.C. from December to April, it also helps to advertise. Tourism Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb do what they can with the resources they have, but without the ongoing material support of the CTC and a national commitment to tourism it's an uphill battle. Just something to keep in mind in an election year. There are a lot of issues on the table already, but tourism is Whistler's bread and butter — and should be a priority for everybody.

Andrew Mitchell


Ruling disappointing

The recent ruling of the BC Supreme Court, in favour of the government, was not the one B.C. teachers had been hoping for.

We, along with workers across Canada, were very disappointed; we fundamentally disagree with a ruling that gives too much power to government while it takes so much away from the rights of workers. Where there are collective agreements in place, a government should not be able to dictate what they so choose and force it by legislation.

Justice Donald offered a strong dissenting opinion that, along with other recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, call into question the appeal court's decision and offers hope to teachers in B.C. and workers across the country. The court's decision does not change the unconstitutionality of Bill 28.

The government was wrong to unilaterally strip teachers of the right to bargain working conditions. Bill 28 allowed the government to underfund B.C.'s education system to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the last 13 years.

The more recent Bill 11 only serves to add insult to injury. It not only brings about sweeping changes to teachers' professional work and negative impacts on student privacy, but also it centralizes power in the minister's office over democratically elected boards.

The minister did not consult with anyone on the changes, including school trustees. If only the minister would take pause and listen to his partners. Instead, the conflict continues unnecessarily.

Trustees, parents, support workers and teachers are now all speaking out against the underfunding and cuts to education. The BC Teachers Federation will seek leave to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the decision.

However, the government could put the interests of B.C. students first. If the government is serious about stability and moving forward, they must repeal Bill 11, consult in good faith, and properly fund public education in this province.

We all want a strong public education system.

B.C. teachers will continue to defend our bargaining rights, our working conditions, students' learning conditions and B.C.'s public education system.

Carl Walker

Sea to Sky Teachers' Association

Boxing is alive and well

I feel compelled to respond to a letter written to the Pique about " Boxing on its way out," by Doug Garnett (May 7).

Being involved in the sport of boxing for the past 40 years, as a fighter and a trainer, to read that someone is comparing boxing to the Christians being fed to the lions, or bull fighting etc. is not only silly, but stupid.

I have never had anyone come to my boxing classes and say I want you to teach me to box so I can beat some one up or kill someone. One hundred per cent come for conditioning, and/or to defend themselves, and therefore I would like to put my "two cents in."

I am a business owner in Whistler, a hairdresser, international guest artist, guest speaker, and pilot. I became a boxer as the result of getting "punched out" at a school dance — I was hurt and extremely embarrassed and I never wanted this to happen to me again.

What I discovered was the "sweet science" of boxing was truly that! It not only got me in incredible shape, but it gave me self confidence, made me understand my body better, helped me to think more quickly on my feet, and took away the fear of being attacked and not being able to defend myself.

I have been boxing for 40 years, and have never been knocked out or had a concussion from boxing. But I have been knocked out windsurfing once, and have "rung my bell" many times snowboarding and skiing! And I know lots of people that have had multiple concussions from snowboarding and skiing, football and hockey, and believe me, the injuries we sustain in these sports are much greater than in boxing.

As a boxing coach, I have taught both female and male athletes, doctors, engineers, professors, pilots, nurses, teachers, etc. I have also taught high school students here in Whistler, and troubled boys and girls who need guidance and exercise — one thing about boxing is it doesn't require a big investment, as does hockey, or tennis, or golf, etc. Therefore it can appeal to the masses.

Not everyone is privileged, plus the underprivileged in many cases need to be able to defend themselves.

The sport creates "champions," people like Muhammad Ali, who became the world's most-famous human, ever! He gave hope to millions. People like Ali, George Foreman and Manny Pacquiao have given the majority of their wealth to helping the underprivileged, and still do. These people might never have become anything, or been able to help millions without the sport of boxing being the vehicle they used to achieve their legacies.

In closing, I have taught thousands of people the art of boxing, from women (who want to be able to defend themselves), to children who need to!

The experience has always been positive, and rewarding. Boxing doesn't mean you have to beat each other up or hit each other; 99 per cent of it is the art form and the training.

So to hear someone knock a sport that they have obviously never participated in, or embraced, is sad. It is a sport that requires, strength, stamina, intelligence, balance and timing, and teaches us self defence.

Who doesn't want that!?

And who doesn't want to walk down a back alley or a dark place and not be afraid of being beat up or raped, or defending the ones we love, because of what you learned through boxing or martial arts?

I have played tennis, hockey, football and soccer and there is truly nothing that compares to the "sweet science," for the workout, for the aerobics, the adrenaline rush, or the mental exercise.

So please, don't knock things your either know nothing about, or have not tried — there's a lot more to the game than you will ever know. Boxing is alive and well, and helping the people throughout the world, and always will be.

Jack Noesgaard


Mountain gods

I will try to keep this to less than two minutes of your time. In the fall of 2013, my husband and I embarked on a trek in Nepal — The Annapurna circuit.

Through the recommendation from friends from Whistler, we are connected with a wonderful Sherpa guide, Pemba Chhiri. Emails began and we were excited to have such a guide with years of experience and who had been to Everest several times.

Two days prior to our arrival, he informed us he could not accompany us, as his wife had to be once again admitted to hospital for ongoing cancer treatment. But he had a nephew who could do it.

We were very disappointed to hear that a young 22 year old would be taking his place — but what a gift of circumstance.

Tenji and a porter (also named Pemba) bestowed an incredible journey upon us. Patience, professionalism, laughter, humility, kindness and smiles every day of our 26-day trek.

We have kept in contact through Facebook. Pemba and Tenji built on their little trekking business with a new logo and developed a website.

In the fall of the 2014 the avalanche and storm on the Annapurna circuit marked the exact same week we were there a year prior.

We were devastated to hear about this natural disaster affecting these beautiful humble people who love the mountains.

Two months ago we learned that Tenji would be doing his first summit to Everest. He sent us pictures of all his gear, dressed up and looking so excited from his little apartment. There would be 35 sherpas and porters and 30 guests in his group. We told him to be safe.

Now, here we are, 2015 and the earthquake strikes. Tenji was somewhere between EBC camp 1 and 2. He managed to return to camp but everything was destroyed. Five of his fellow Sherpas died trying to clear the rubble and ropes, so the guests could get back to camp 1.

Back in Kathmandu, we were so relieved to hear Pemba and his family were alive. However, in the past two days I have learned that they have lost everything and are living in fear in an open park, as there is still shaking going on five times a day.  

Travelling gives each one of us a personal experience whether it's lying on a beach doing nothing, or hiking the highest mountains in the world. But it's usually the people that enrich us.

There are many people in the Whistler area who have connections with Nepal and the mountains because they feed us with energy, passion and spirituality. The mountains of Nepal are considered gods.  

This is a story of just one family, in one country, that had such an impact on us in such a poor area — they created memories that will last a lifetime.

Thousands of families are suffering in Nepal. The news media will soon be onto the next story. Please remember it will take years to recover. Please donate any way you can, because we are all mountain people in some capacity.

Dianne Thornton


Graffiti Plan needed

I am all for, and very excited for some of my skate enthusiast friends, regarding the new park that will be constructed in Whistler.

But, there is one part of the article "Carving a New Reputation," Pique, April 30 that really made me chuckle.

"The park will also incorporate coloured concrete, which Barnum hopes will keep the new section graffiti-free and be aesthetically-pleasing to passersby."

Are you kidding me? Has anyone been by the current skate park lately? There has to be over 3,000 pieces of graffiti currently riddled throughout the park and all over city garbage cans, tourist guides, light poles etc.

What a disgusting eyesore. Are there plans other than "incorporated coloured concrete" to ensure this new $800,000 park doesn't turn into another graffiti breeding area?

I was walking through the area last week and couldn't believe the mess I was walking by. What a poor impression of such a naturally rich and beautiful municipality.

I would love to hear what the RMOW has planned to help preserve this investment.

Kris Jones


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