Something smells fishy
Nothing infuriates me more than when a politician claims to be "following the science" and then goes against it—when he/she claims to be fighting for the environment while at the same time cutting funding to the very programs that support it.
On Wednesday, May 1, I travelled to North Vancouver along with other Whistler and Squamish residents to attend a protest organized by Whistler local Dave Brown against the recent extensive closures of recreational salmon fisheries in our waters.
The turnout was beyond expectations with more than 200 supporters and multiple TV and radio crews in attendance in front of (federal) Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson's office.
Speakers representing recreational fishermen and women, charter companies and local businesses expressed their support for protecting salmon populations, but their dismay at the lack of science-based decisions and real action in addressing the issues.
As a former environmental scientist and a recreational fisherman, it was deeply frustrating to have our Liberal Fisheries Minister ignore his own department's science and make a decision to completely shut down retention of Chinook salmon on the majority of the South Coast of B.C. until July 31.
This decision will do little to protect the early Fraser Chinook populations of concern; Department of Fisheries and Oceans' (DFO) own DNA data shows recreational anglers catch 0.63 per cent of these Chinook stocks while there are numerous other healthy Chinook populations in our local waters, that should be open to retention.
This spring, the Chinook salmon fishing has been nothing short of spectacular prior to this closure. This closure is severely impacting B.C. coastal communities and business—the very people who care deeply about healthy salmon populations. This is a missed opportunity to put in place a concrete, funded plan that would actually help the Fraser River Chinook populations, rather than (only) giv(ing) the appearance of doing something.
Interestingly, the public fishery in B.C. is a $1.1-billion industry and the largest economic contributor of all the fisheries, supporting 9,000 jobs. However, we catch less than 15 per cent of halibut and 10 per cent of salmon coastwide, and less than four per cent of total fish harvested in B.C.
I want to see Fisheries Minister Wilkinson put into action a recovery plan for early Fraser Chinook that includes Chinook predator control, habitat protection and rehabilitation, key hatchery enhancement as well as adequate funding for fisheries officers and habitat staff.
Attacking recreational anglers under the guise of conservation is a thinly veiled attempt at gaining political favour that inflicts serious harm to the B.C. economy and coastal communities, does not enhance the early Fraser River Chinook salmon stocks and side steps the need to take real and meaningful action.
Be very wary when your elected officials claim to be "following the science."
Mark Steffens // Whistler
Bring on the food trucks
Thanks to (Pique reporter) Brandon Barrett for spurring the conversation on food trucks in town (Pique'n, May 2).
I'm lucky to be able to travel quite a bit for work and many of the cities I go to have a thriving food truck scene.
Of course there would be resistance to this in town, and all you have to do is follow the money to see why, but food trucks differ from the dining experience and there is room for both in such a busy place.
People are often quick to forget that the success of Whistler and Blackcomb was due to the competition between the mountains when they weren't owned by the same company.
Having more options for food for both residents and visitors would not only lower prices, but would create a culture with "must-try" cuisine that everyone will stop at when word gets out. Think of cheesesteak in Philly, pizza in Chicago, poutine in Montreal, or waffles in Belgium. The food is synonymous with the city, not one particular eatery.
The same could happen for Whistler if people had the freedom to be creative with their food offerings and competitive with how they were presented.
Steve Andrews // Whistler
A big thanks to the Whistler Kids program
Now that the ski season has wrapped up, I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge Whistler Blackcomb's ski program for children and youth.
For greater context, I have history with the program, as a significant part of my own youth was spent in this same program (thank you Vicky Bunbury for your years of tolerance). The program has obviously evolved over the decades since I attended "Ski Scamps" at Creekside, and next season I will be registering our fifth child into what is now the Whistler Kids program.
This past season, we had four children active in the program and I would like to convey how impressed I am with every aspect of Whistler Kids.
At the end of this season, the progression of my children's skiing ability and attitude towards skiing (my favourite sport in the world) is nothing less than phenomenal. I am so impressed with how the instructors/coaches interacted with my children, and how they created an environment (in sometimes extremely difficult conditions) that has helped my children fall in love with skiing.
For me, love of the sport is the endgame and developing a love for the sport starts in programs such as Whistler Kids.
I can't really say this any other way ... you folks have just nailed it! I want to thank everyone from management to the instructors, coaches and daycare supervisors. You are doing such and fantastic job. Please keep it up.
Beau Jarvis // Vancouver
WHA refines eligibility
You can work from both sides of an economic issue: supply or demand.
There is an axiom among economists: "With the economy you can do whatever you want, but avoid the consequences."
Looks like Whistler Housing Authority decided to work on demand restriction (fewer people on its waiting lists—very good as a political achievement itself but aggravating the never-ending housing issue), instead of a real supply expansion.
The former will kick out more residents to the "free" housing market, pushing the actual crisis; the latter would move some residents to the affordable proposed one.
Whistler's housing crisis is due to investors, residents and businesses (big and small) being in an overlapping, unfair competition for the same housing stock. (Plus some greedy landlords, that use that to make their bread and butter from spare rooms and Airbnb their houses during long weekends. It's so common to see rental cars and U.S. plates on cars outside of houses just for long weekends while the owner's car disappears. And they don't really care about small local businesses and residents struggling for housing.)
Very well known, and always good to remember, is the expression, "Think outside the box." But not so common is "Look out of the box." It's happening now in a couple of European tourism-boom destinations where the community is starting to look at tourists and investors as the reason why they can't live in their own towns anymore.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) mandate is not to build houses, we've heard that a lot of times. But between what we have so far and the RMOW building houses, there could be intermediate solutions to explore.
So, let's think about what the real Whistler housing crisis is about. Then approach it looking for the consequences that you want to achieve for the best of our community.
Jorge Ravenna // Whistler
Solar power is the answer
A wise man once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." With that in mind, I present the solar party barge.
There are these amazing electric motors out there. They are GPS, remote controlled, there's even an app for your iPhone—all you need is a solar panel, a charge controller and a battery or two. Put them all together and you have the drive train of an amazing solar party barge. Free energy from the sun, zero emissions and no noise. There is a certain magic to cruising around the lake with a bunch of family and friends enjoying the beauty of nature knowing that you didn't burn any oil or gas to do so.
It's possible, it's easy and it's cheap to get gas and oil motors off Alta Lake.
Despite what you've heard most of the floating dock people I know care deeply about the environment and are well respected and upstanding members of our community (Pique, Letters to the Editor, April 25). Please don't judge us all because of a couple run-down docks out there.
Everyone cares about Alta Lake—we want to be good neighbours and have lots of fun in the sun. I think we have an opportunity here, to lead by example, to show Canada and the world how a world-class resort has the best eco-friendly, epic lake life anywhere.
Mark Hall // Whistler
Our biggest environmental threat
Whistler council's definition of environmentalism centres on a value system of caring for environmental protection, regardless of whether one actually lives in a way that aligns with those values. This also appears true in Ottawa but that is another letter ... on surfing.
The true environmentalists are those whose lifestyles are the least carbon-intensive.
A great example of this are many locals caught in the housing crisis who are unable to find affordable housing and are earning a "three-to-a-room" wage. These true locals use less electricity, have no houses or apartments of their own, drive less, fly less, and purchase less. They don't fill the elite restaurants, have a private gondola or heli-ski regularly. Yet, even though one's wealth positively correlates with one's carbon footprint, the people who live the least carbon-intensive lifestyles are not often hailed as environmentalists. The environmental movement in Whistler, including Whistler's current council, could benefit from looking to those who are not traditionally seen as environmentalists, but live the most environmentally friendly lifestyles, for guidance and modelling (personal, minus the couch surfing).
Studies show wealthy, college-educated people are responsible for double the carbon emissions of low-income people across the developed world and the world's richest 10 per cent is responsible for more than half of the world's fossil fuel emissions. In practice, this means that both a Whistler family of four making more than $75,000, and an individual making more than $45,000 fall into this group. We pollute ... a lot. Or at least what we get up to every day creates piles and piles of pollution.
There is a disconnect between mainstream environmentalists and those actually living sustainably. A good example, sorry Happy Jack, is driving a Suburban. Or maybe flying around the globe for municipal business.
The assumption that wealthier people are more likely to be environmentalists is often followed up with the idea that only the rich can afford to be, as they have the time and money to invest in habits, such as buying organic food, purchasing hybrid cars, and participating in expensive ecotourism vacations, whereas poorer people worry about food, paying rent (if they are lucky) and $1.78 fuel. However, mainstream environmentalism has rarely acknowledged those actually living out the values of sustainability as environmentalists. If you cannot afford a car, you take transit. If you can, you should not buy one. If you own two or even three cars, what on Earth are you doing?
I am not idealizing couch surfing but rather pointing out that life with excessive wealth and waste should not be the environmental gold standard. One cannot be an environmentalist solely through intent without actually living sustainably. As a municipality this applies. We need to provide just enough for our residents to lift up their lifestyles in a way (that won't) harm the planet.
Survival here on minimum wage is essential to this goal. Somehow, this should be enough. Somehow, it must be enough, if we are to ever save this planet.
This "spend it because we get it, raise taxes because everyone else did and grow, grow, grow" mentality of (some) Whistler councillors is simply bad for the planet. Period. Ignoring this also puts this green demographic most at risk from climate change because, as proven in multiple studies, the poor, or the people with sustainable lifestyles, suffer most from climate change. The rich environmentalists will not suffer because they can afford to adapt.
Frankly, a wealthy environmentalist does not experience what it actually means to live sustainably, ever. Conversely, the people who lead lives with minimal impact on the planet have the least say in the mainstream environmental movement.
The common misconception that people with less money are worse environmentalists (no hybrid, cheap windows, no e-bike, complain about taxes and gas prices, drive a big, old truck etc.) is extremely harmful. It is what actually allows wealthy environmentalists (insert Whistler homeowner or Whistler councillor) to hide behind environmental values and to disguise the significant environmental harm of their (our ... me included) overall lifestyle, and gives little credit or praise to those whose lifestyles and values define the true environmentalist.
It would be great if we could avert the climate crisis while continuing to build more and bigger houses, travel more frequently and buy more stuff. But, for those of us living in Whistler with extremely high-carbon lifestyles, we cannot keep building, wanting and having more.
The greatest danger to Mother Earth is that modern environmentalists are applauded even when their lives do not contribute to saving her but, in fact, are part of the top threat.
Where is our next mayor, who is currently earning minimum wage and who parks and lives in her van wherever she can? And she likes it this way! This individual is a true environmentalist. She can hector me all day. I deserve it.
Perri Domm // Whistler
Plant and bake sale success
I would once again like to thank our community in Pemberton for its support.
The Pemberton Women's Institute held its annual plant and bake sale at the Legion on Saturday, April 27, and the town came out in full force to buy our goods, both baking and plants, as well as locally grown seed potatoes.
We would also like to thank the friends of our group who so graciously donated plants, baking and potatoes for us to sell.
As well, thank you to those who stayed to help us with the huge crowd that descended upon us. The leftover seed potatoes are now at Pemberton Valley Nurseries for you to purchase if you missed us.
We have a few plants that we will take to the first Farmer's Market on June 7 as well.
Linda Welsh // Pemberton
Walking for a cause
The weather again co-operated and the sun shone on all those who participated in the second Whistler Walk for Alzheimer's on Sunday, May 5, on behalf of the Alzheimer's Society of B.C.
It was wonderful to have the support of the community, which came out to raise much-needed funds to help the many who are touched by dementia.
Funds are still coming in and thanks to all our volunteers, and the champions who walked, cheered, and contributed food and auction items. Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm!
The total amount is yet to be calculated but at this time we have raised more than $22,000.
The Alzheimer's Society of B.C. appreciates the generosity of the many local business contributions. We are only successful with community support.
Erika Durlacher // Walk chair/Whistler