Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for the week of November 29th


Saving the Spearhead: what is at stake

With two public hearings, held by BC Parks, and another two fundraisers, this November, the Spearhead Huts Project is making strong headway towards its final goal. The goal is a backcountry trail and hut system along the Spearhead mountain range.

The range is a high-alpine link between the resorts on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain. The system will consist of the construction of three new huts along with multiple trails. The reasoning for the creation of this hut and trail system is to minimize backcountry users impact on the environment by concentrating the users to fewer spaces. On the surface this may appear to be great news to environmentalists and backcountry users alike.

But as an environmental sustainability student and an avid backcountry user myself, I believe that these huts will not be a sustainable solution. What is even more frustrating, is that the proposed huts and trails could ultimately be less sustainable than the current system in place.

Everyone knows that the Spearhead traverse is seeing more and more summer and winter visitors every year. On nice days it is not uncommon to see as many as one hundred backcountry users. This has, without a doubt, had an impact on the environment mostly due to human excrements. Human excrements, however, could easily be addressed with the installation of latrines with removable holding containers, which are flown out by helicopter. Examples of this can be seen at Wedgemount Lake Provincial Park.

However, the addition of new trails and huts along side latrines will greatly increase the ecological footprint of human use in the Spearhead range. This is because we will be drastically shaping the current Spearhead range into a more socially constructed environment. Trails and huts will just prove more that we are effectively shaping the environment to meet our needs.

The northwest portion of the Spearhead range has obviously been extremely developed due to the Whistler-Blackcomb resort. The creation of huts and trails around the Spearhead would only be the finishing touches to fully developing the entire range. This would leave the Spearhead range with no portion untouched by human creations.

Currently hundreds of people a year are able to complete the Spearhead without the aid of trails and huts. Improved amenities along the Spearhead would undoubtedly bring far more traffic to the area. This high traffic volume will increase environmental impacts on the land due to the destruction of flora and fauna, and spooking the wildlife.

A topic that has not been addressed by the Spearhead Huts Project is the matter of overflow camping. When the huts are fully occupied, where will the overflow users stay? Increased overflow camping around the huts could influence even more development in the form of constructing tenting grounds.

This begins to raise questions of how will high traffic fluxes be managed? Would there be a cap in place to limit the number of backcountry users per day? Would backcountry users, not using the huts, be required to pay user fees? These are all questions that we, as a community, must ask ourselves before giving away the right to develop the remaining portion of the Spearhead.

I do not want to come off as an ultra-hippy-tree-hugger with an anti-hut attitude. But what is the harm in leaving the remaining portion of the Spearhead range undeveloped of trails and huts?

Whistler-Blackcomb resort has already created arguably, the easiest access to a high alpine traverse in North America. The chairlifts whisk people to the alpine, dropping them off merely hundreds of metres from backcountry gates. Leaving these backcountry gates, boundless undeveloped terrain is accessible. This creates the perfect environment for hut-free backcountry use. Chairlifts take away the grunt work of climbing to the alpine, leaving backcountry users to complete the traverse with tents.

By travelling in this undeveloped area, users will experience the raw elements and natural power of the landscape. This undeveloped terrain will be able to give users a more authentic nature and backcountry experience. After all, if the users were not interested in an authentic backcountry experience, why did they venture to the backcountry in the first place?

For tourists seeking to experience a high alpine traverse, with the luxuries of huts, perhaps try looking at the European Alps. However, it is well known that many Europeans venture to western Canada every year to experience an undeveloped setting for mountain experiences.

(Public hearings will be held by BC Parks in Whistler Dec. 6 at the Whistler Conference Centre from 4 to 7 p.m.). BC Parks is looking for your input and ideas to help better manage the Spearhead Range. Please remember what is at stake when voicing your opinions. Perhaps backcountry huts are not the answer to maintaining the Spearhead Range for future generations. The simple installations of latrines will ensure the longevity of the range's beauty.

Cameron Browne


TW looking for win-win solutions

I would like to thank Pique for highlighting the tourism industry's efforts to lobby the federal government for increased funding, however, I would also like to take this opportunity to further clarify a couple of points in the Nov. 15 article: "TW lobbying for more federal tourism funding."

Tourism Whistler respects government's need to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers and that tough times call for tough decisions, however, the tourism industry's approach to addressing funding shortfalls is to find solutions that are a win-win for both government and the industry.

Further clarification is required in regard to the GST rebate program. Currently, there is no rebate program for individual travellers. While conference and tour operator travellers qualify for GST rebates, independent travellers do not qualify and the tourism industry's suggestion is that perhaps some of the money saved by not offering a rebate program to individual travellers could be earmarked for tourism marketing, as one solution.

As a tourism Mecca, Whistler is instrumental in raising awareness of industry-specific issues. We wouldn't be successful without the support of our membership. We recently asked our Members to submit letters to MP John Weston supporting our efforts to seek increased tourism funding and 63 Tourism Whistler Members responded.

I would like to thank Tourism Whistler's membership for their level of engagement and ongoing support as well as acknowledge our government partners, in particular Mr. Weston, for recognizing and supporting our efforts. Mr. Weston has been instrumental in assisting Tourism Whistler with past lobbying efforts and we look forward to this continued partnership.

Barrett Fisher

Tourism Whistler President & CEO

Remembrance Day Thanks

Once again the Whistler community turned out in unbelievable numbers to the Whistler Cenotaph to demonstrate its appreciation and remembrance for Canada's fallen Armed Forces members.

Visiting Veterans and serving forces members were overwhelmed with the outpouring of affection and thanks. Some of the younger soldiers and airmen said they would be requesting the assignment to come to Whistler again for next year's service.

I want to thank the students and staff at Myrtle Philip Community School for their design and efforts with decorating the service crosses. Rotary, again, generously supplied hot coffee and cookies to the assembled and many, many others pitched in small ways and large to make this a very special day.

The Whistler Children's Chorus and the Whistler Singers provided a wonderful vocal presentation and never sounded so good.

Thank you Whistler.

B. BuchholzWhistler

A day to remember

I would like to thank everyone who attended Pemberton's Remembrance Service, it was wonderful to see so many people attend from the very young to the young-at-heart, each year the numbers attending seem to grow.

I would especially like to thank: Hannah Van Spronsen, who sang "O Canada," Ryan Zant, who sounded the Last Post and to Duncan Lowe, Piper, Dave Walden and the 1st Whistler Scouts and Beavers.

To everyone who marched, those who stood honour guard at the Cenotaph, Andy Meeker from Blackcomb Aviation and Mike Flynn who performed the fly past, to all of our membership who worked so diligently behind the scenes to ensure our service ran smoothly thank-you.

The day was cold and crisp and we were thrilled that so many from our communities were able to join us, not only to remember all those that have lost their lives in the service of their country, but also to join us in the Branch after the service to share stories and memories.

Thank you to Deb Carson who stepped in at the last minute to run our kitchen, and to assistants: Bob Fletcher, Marie Goncalvez, Miller Wiltse and Mabel Stillwell, and to Pemberton Valley Supermarket for their contribution to the luncheon, and thanks also to our bar staff, Sheila, Neil, and Ellen, who managed to keep the hot toddies coming as we moved inside from the cold November day.

Thank you Pemberton and surrounding communities for remembering, but most of all thank you to our veterans.

Lesley Clark


Pemberton Branch 201

Royal Canadian Legion

Celebration a success

On behalf of Pemberton Multicultural Network, I would like to thank everyone who came to the first Pemberton Multicultural Celebration. When we were organizing this event we wanted to have the opportunity to share our cultures with the community of Pemberton, offering our skills, values and experiences. We hope we have done that.

At the same time, we have learnt so much about the people of Pemberton — their generosity, interest and welcoming spirit. It was a huge pleasure to see so many come out and have some fun, join in and spend time with us.

I also want to thank all the volunteers who put so much of their own time and energy into making the Celebration such a success. There's no room to mention everyone, but thank you Yuko, Ann, Fanny, Lisette, Elisa, Kaori, Toshi, Sandy, Miho, Fe, Kinu, Hiroko, Fumie, Misun, Mari, Reiko, Hiroko, Hiromi, Aki, Masumi, Lolita, Nancy, Karen, Maude, Karin, Sony and Carole for your huge hearts and for donating your (and your family's) time and to all leaders and members of Pemberton Multicultural Network, as well as our supporters and friends. Especially, Swiss Deli and Suiki-ya Japanese Restaurant, letting us use the kitchen and providing a huge amount of food for in-kind. LB production and all performers, thanks for making us realize how many talented people we have in spud Valley. Pemberton Football Club and Ecole de la Vallee-de-Pemberton, thanks for joining us in the event.

Special thanks also go to the Lil'wat Nation and Lois Joseph for sharing their dances, crafts and food with us. Also to Shannon Ellis at the Pemberton Library for supporting this idea from the start, to Jill Brooksbank at the Village of Pemberton for believing in and supporting the event, to James Linklater who made it possible for us to offer food, to the Pemberton council which was brave enough to grant funding to get us started, and to Mayor Jordan Sturdy who was kind enough to say a few words at the event, and then stayed on for quite a while.

To all those who made this event a special success for the Pemberton Multicultural Network thanks you.

We hope to be able to make this an annual event, and look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Mika Matsudate

Pemberton Multicultural Network

Innergex's Upper Lillooet Hydro project

I am writing to share my opposition to Innergex's Upper Lillooet Hydro project, which proposes the construction of three hydroelectric facilities on the Upper Lillooet River, Boulder Creek and North Creek as well as a 72-km long transmission line. The Ministers of Environment and of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas are currently deciding whether to issue an environmental assessment certificate for this project. If issued, the destruction will begin. Innergex has a history of failing to comply with flow management regulations, resulting in fish kill and damaged fish habitat, as noted by both federal and provincial bureaucrats. Such environmentally devastating incidents are therefore likely to occur in the Upper Lillooet River. This project could also negatively impact lower-gradient salmon spawning and rearing habitat.

Innergex's project will turn Pemberton's stunning backcountry into an industrialized zone replete with roads, dams, pipelines, temporary construc­tion camps, and an unsightly 72-km long clearcut for the transmission line. It will destroy the beautiful Keyhole Falls: B.C. residents do not want the possible provision of "esthetical flows perhaps on weekends," as suggested by Richard Blanchet, Innergex's western region vice-president.

In addition to the incalculable environmental losses, tax payers will be stuck with the fallout of B.C.'s flawed energy policy and legislation, which enables Innergex and other independent power producers to sell power to BC Hydro at a much higher rate than BC Hydro itself produces and sells power. Clearly, only Innergex's shareholders stand to gain from this project while Pemberton's growing tourism (Slow Food Cycle, Ironman Canada, the Canadian National Paragliding Championships, etc.) and the long-term jobs it provides will be negatively affected.

Contrary to what Innergex maintains, many development impacts can not be mitigated, so the wisest approach would be to leave the Upper Lillooet River undeveloped, especially as government monitoring and follow-up evaluations are totally inadequate as highlighted in the Auditor General's report An Audit of the Environmental Assessment Office's Oversight of Certified Projects (2011/12).

Louise Taylor


Tax payment confusion

I just read your article on RMOW/Whistler Tourism tax payment confusion (Pique Nov. 8,2012).

The RMOW's response is a perfect example of the kind of bureaucratic indifference that makes citizens dissatisfied with the people running "city hall."

Any idiot can see that two organizations with the same municipality name (Whistler) and the same bank account number is just an accident waiting to happen.

The RMOW and Whistler Tourism bureaucrats can't be bothered to change one of the account numbers and just to add insult to injury, they insist on collecting the fines for any mix-ups caused by their own administrative incompetence.

Nick Stowell


Happy anniversary!

On Dec. 1, Yama Yoga will have been officially open for one year.

It was an idea presented to me by a student who believed in what I had to offer, encouraged and built by more students/friends, supported and made possible by family.

I can't believe it was a year ago that I was frantically trying to deal with all the chaos, jumping through all the necessary hoops and hitting the various speed bumps. What a fantastic and scary experience learning to run a business has been... a sarcastic continuous reminder of how life in general is — that everything is in constant change, that we can't control everything (or is it anything?) and that it all works out one way or another.

It is working out.

My studio, our studio is a smashing success.

Created and upheld by this incredible community. I couldn't be more grateful to be surrounded by so many beautiful people who believe in me (especially at times when I haven't).

I want to thank all my students at Yama for your trust, your faith and your time.

To those students and instructors that only a year ago helped take an idea and turn it into reality — know that you will always be cherished. It was because of the time and energy you donated that Yama Yoga was able to take its first steps.

It is important I thank the women who not only stoked the fire, but actually lit it. Katherine Tilley and my sister, Pamela... my coaches, my mentors, my backbone... without you I wouldn't see as clearly. I can comfortably say now, you were right to believe in me... and because of you, I finally believe it too.

I also want to include in this letter, words of appreciation to those students and businesses that have promoted me — because of you Yama Yoga is still standing.

Lastly I want to express how grateful I am to be embraced by this community. Often we can't see we are a part of something till we are so lost we finally must reach out... how surprised I was to find out I didn't have to reach far.

You were right there.

You always have been.

Thank you

Colleen Felgate

Owner Yama Yoga

Spitters on the bus — stop!

Please stop defiling my paradise! It happens in the form of throwing trash on the Valley Trail, peeing in a public space, swearing profusely on the stroll, and now spitting loogies on the bus. Is it really that hard to respect this beautiful place and the people living around you who call Whistler home?

To these types of immature, disrespectful people: Take a moment to think before you act and ask yourself, "What would my mother think," or "What would Whistler be like if everyone did like this."

To the young people, like me, who love Whistler but hate having to put up with this crap: Please don't ever let anyone you know act this way and call out those that do!

If anyone knows the three young French Canadian boys who are all about 20-years-old, were riding the #1 bus at around 1:40 a.m. on the night of Saturday Nov 17, got off at the last stop in Creekside, were loud and obnoxious and repeatedly spat on the floor of the bus, please pass on a message from me: GROW UP OR GO HOME!

Marlee Corra