Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of September 11th

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Excellent public education is the basis of a healthy democracy

I consider a successful person as someone who is happy, self-assured, able to work well with others and a good thinker. Someone who contributes to society, values diversity, is a lifelong learner, and is knowledgeable about the world.

These are attributes that our B.C. curriculum sets out to teach. I love teaching this curriculum. I love introducing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to my students and pushing them to think critically. I work to build collaborative energy and enable social success and acceptance in my classroom. I love encouraging students to think about their responsibilities as the privileged citizens of the world that they are.

Personally, I like to give thoughtful, individual feedback in order to promote critical thinking. I like to communicate with parents on an individual basis when I see a need. This takes time. The more students, the less individual attention. That is why class size and composition matters. It is the key component that B.C. public school teachers want to see improved in order to make their teaching effective.

Public school is for the benefit of every child in our country; for the benefit of our national and global community. Public education is for the benefit of ALL society.

When we erode public education by underfunding it, I believe we are making a big mistake. I worry that we are poised on the brink of a downward slide, which will end in disaster for all society.

If some citizens receive a second-class education, they will not know how to advocate for themselves. They will resort to less desirable ways to express their discontent. There are plenty of places in the world today where a lack of education is preventing the development of a healthy society.

Our provincial curriculum is excellent. But the public education system needs to be well funded in order that all citizens have the chance to benefit from this curriculum. We have a choice: we can spend tax dollars up front on excellent education, or later, on mitigating the needs of those who weren't lucky enough to receive an excellent education.

Society has assigned the schools the vital job of raising our citizens. Our decision-makers need to make sure that system works to the best of its ability. For the benefit of all.

Jane Millen

Whistler

Time to take a stand

Teachers, students and parents are understandably frustrated and angered by the Liberal government's continued roadblocks to finding a settlement to the current dispute with B.C. teachers.

Every effort by the BCTF to negotiate, mediate and even arbitrate has been met with a resounding "no" from the government. Government negotiator Peter Cameron confirmed the position in media interviews this past weekend by saying, "When the BCTF says (the government) is not moving, they're right!"

How can a settlement ever come if one side is unwilling to look for solutions; especially when that side has twice been found guilty of breaking contracts and bargaining in bad faith?

To add insult to injury, the government introduced E80, which is essentially a provision that would supersede and replace all rulings, past and future, regarding class size, composition, and staffing levels. In other words, this provision makes any future court rulings meaningless. Teachers will never agree to something that so fundamentally violates our Charter of Rights.

It has become more and more clear that this attack by the B.C. Liberal government is an ideological assault on unions, specifically the BCTF, and has nothing to do with education. Instead, Christy Clark is using students in what appears to be a personal vendetta against teachers.

The only way this government is going to move is if its members, like MLA Jordan Sturdy, find the courage to stand up to the cynical efforts of its leaders. It's time for Liberal backbenchers to show their colours and take a stand either for their political masters or for education.

Carl Walker

Sea-to-Sky Teachers' Association

Cut funding to private schools

A thought I had in the current teachers dispute is, those who can afford private schooling have education for their children right now, and the rest don't.

(Private schools can get as much as 50 per cent of the public district's per-student grant.)

Last year this was a two-tiered system that some would argue was unfair, this year it is a one-tiered system that is purely unacceptable.

My proposal to clear the current impasse is to suspend public funding of private schools until this argument is settled, and all children are back in class.

A shock like that might quicken the pace of negotiations. The interesting thing about shock is, after the initial indignity, there is room to compromise and in this case it seems fair to reduce public funding for private schools by 10 per cent each year for the next 10 years until ''private school'' means just that. The resulting savings could then help fund public schools properly.

There are fundamental cornerstones of civilized society and one of them is universal education, the only possible argument against that is if you count on ignorance to gain power.

Rob Neaga

Squamish

9/11 (+ 13) 

Take a moment in your day — today, to remember those innocents lost on 9/11.

Remember the office workers, the passengers, the brave police and firefighters — nearly 3,000 savagely killed in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania.

Always remembered.

Brian Buchholz

Whistler

Young people need to step up

Thanks for getting the ball rolling on discussion around the Whistler election (Pique, "Opening Remarks," Sept. 4). November will come before we know it and hopefully an engaged population will result in a solid mandate for this town going forward.

Unfortunately, one of the issues that I see with Whistler politics is the lack of engagement. It's obvious simply by who is at the council table this time around. Whistler has one of the youngest populations in Canada yet there is only one councillor under 40, and he is 39.  

If the young people of Whistler wanted to be in the driver's seat, our generation could show up at the polls on November 15 and create a local government that could be a true representation of our generation.

Currently, we are in the middle of the greatest technological escalation in recorded history. Never before has our world been so connected, never has the common person had so much access to information, nor has that same person ever had such potential to reach a worldwide audience. 

The older generations can't see it as easily — with no blame to them. It's akin to the parable of the frog in a pot of boiling water: drop the frog in while the water is boiling and it will jump right out.  But if you set it in while the water is lukewarm and bring it to a boil, the frog will die while the water slowly heats up around it.

I believe the same situation is happening now with viability for living in Whistler. Greed is what is causing the water to boil, and the younger generation is steering clear of Whistler as a place to set root, seeing the writing on the wall and looking for more inclusive communities elsewhere in B.C. and Canada... and for that matter other parts of the world. 

So the issue I see is that we are entrusting the same people who got us into this mess to find solutions going forward. I do not hold any blame toward the individuals on council or the municipal staff.

But they are like the frogs in lukewarm water that do not notice that their surroundings have changed drastically. The reality is that the local government has become a microcosm of other government in Canada — inefficient, grossly over budgeted, and a great provider of cushy jobs. Much of it operates behind closed doors with little public oversight. 

The reality is that we don't need such a bureaucratic system anymore. Technology allows us to open up the lines of decision making to the public, and the Internet has provided a viable model for other hierarchies to function similarly.

The Open-source programming movement has proven to be the most efficient method of productivity.  

If the 18 to 35 year olds in Whistler collectively got up and decided to initiate some real change and not play the politics of promises, there might be a reason to get excited.

I'm hoping that this year will be the year that the young generation realizes our power.

I also hope that the older generations will take a step back and allow the changing of the guard for the young people of this town to step into leadership to allow us a promising future here.

It'll be an interesting few months!

Steve Andrews

Whistler

Super BioBlitz 2014

The Whistler Naturalists' 8th annual Whistler BioBlitz was a huge success, thanks to the great weather and the quality and quantity of scientists and volunteers. This year's BioBlitz attracted 65 of B.C.'s top scientists and nature educators, and included a large contingent from the Royal BC Museum and UBC Biodiversity Museum.

The highlight this year was the addition of Pemberton to our list of survey sites, hence the name "SuperBioBlitz." After a full day of surveying Whistler on Saturday, the scientists were all herded into a Whistler-Blackcomb bus or car pools, then taken north to the Riverside Wetlands in Pemberton. A fantastic morning of combing the wetlands, dry bluffs, and Bathtub Trail was followed by a delicious lunch at which we were graciously welcomed to Lil'wat Traditional Territory by Lois Joseph and Lex Joseph.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by Alpha Lake Park for the BioBlitz Nature Festival to see all the amphibians, reptiles, spiders, insects, plants, and fungi at our interpretive displays. And thanks also to those who dropped by on Saturday night to learn directly from the scientists about fossils, moths, owls, and bats.

Preliminary results show about 600 species in total counted over the 24-hour event. We expect about 50 new records for Whistler and over 100 new records for Pemberton. The results will be collated by the Whistler Biodiversity Project and available on-line within the next few weeks at www.whistlernaturalists.ca.

The Whistler Naturalists would thank all the scientists and local volunteers, plus our key sponsors: the Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE, Whistler Blackcomb, RMOW, SLRD and Stewardship Pemberton.

We would also like to thank all the businesses and organizations who contributed to the event: Whistler Museum, Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, Get Bear Smart, South Coast Conservation Program, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, Legends Hotel, Creekside Market, Nesters Market, The Adventure Group, Whistler Eco-Tours, Riverside Café, Helly Hansen, Avalanche Pizza, Nicklaus North Golf Club, Starbucks Creekside, The Fix at Nita Lake Lodge, Riverside Café and Whistler Brewing.

Bob Brett, Kristina Swerhun, Julie Burrow, and Kathy Jenkins

Whistler Naturalists

Rainbow Trail Improvement

A quick hats off to the various trail crews, which have been working so hard this summer on the Rainbow Trail.  

Last year I had reason to complain to the RMOW and BC Parks because the trail was so worn out and dangerous. It's still a work in progress, but the progress is indeed amazing.

I love the re-route at the top, giving visitors a much better scenic view while hiking.

Well done and thanks!

Sarah Bourne

Whistler

Telling it like it is

Mr. (Michael) Blaxland's letter in support of Max is a gem that I wish I could have written (Pique, Sept.4).

Not that Max needs our help. He is the boy who dared to say that the emperor was naked, the brightly dressed smart fool that kept medieval kings level headed.

Disagreeing with the Israeli government is not being against the Jewish people of Israel. Many of them do not agree with their government.

It is always easy to preach when one has only lived in a North America that has not been a battleground for 200 years.  

My first memory of war was hearing the dreadful noise of the air raid siren, being dragged by my maternal grandma to a nearby shelter, then hearing a short while later bombs exploding in the distance. It happened several times, then I was sent to live with relatives in the country for several years.

I learned later that I was sent away because my dad had been arrested by the French police and delivered to the Gestapo. My pregnant mother was expecting to be arrested anytime. My dad's crime — ironically he was a police detective — was living in an apartment owned by a Jewish family.

My dad was eventually freed, but he and mom were an emotional mess for the rest of their lives. Hard working and quick to help others with money or goods, dad would erupt without reason in violent rages anytime, anywhere, frightening whoever was around at that time. He made even big burly men cry. 

My brother and I learned very quickly to run away at full speed at the first strange twitch on his face. Whenever we came back he was fine. 

I was about 12, and walking on my birth-town's main street when the owner of a clothing store mom used to go regularly years before recognized me. I told her my parents now lived and worked in another town. I learned that day for the first time that she and many other Jewish families owed their life to my parents. She was shocked by my ignorance.  

I lived with my maternal grandma during the week. When I asked her what my parents did during the war she just said, "don't wake up the ghosts."

J-L Brussac

Coquitlam

Sea To Sky Charity Golf Tournament thanks

On behalf of the Whistler Public Library a hearty thanks is in order to BlueShore Financial, The Whistler Grocery Store and Pemberton Valley Supermarket for choosing us as the beneficiaries of the 2014 Sea to Sky Charity Golf Tournament.

It was delightful to be party to an event where the participants thoroughly enjoy the day in the name of charity.

Thank you as well to the Nicklaus North Golf Club for generously hosting the event, as well as the many grocery distributors and business owners who provided items for the silent auction.

In addition, we were honoured to share this year's event with another worthy recipient, the Pemberton Public Library.

It is this type of support that enables us to improve the library spaces and places that our community values. Thank you to everyone involved for making the day happen (and what a beautiful day it was)!

Elizabeth Tracy for The Whistler Public Library Board of Trustees

Speed limits too high

The infrastructure along the Emerald section of Highway 99 does not support the newly posted speed limit, and the overall traffic volume has increased to produce consistently dangerous situations even at the previously posted speed limit of 60 km/hr. (See Page 12 for related story).

The following is presented to support the requirement of immediate speed limit reduction back to 60 km/hour in the area from Rainbow to Cougar Mountain on Highway 99.

• The junctions exiting and entering Highway 99 have no traffic control signals or reduced speed, which forces vehicles to go from zero km/hr to 80 km/hr with no merge lanes or 80 km/hr to zero km/hour with no designated turn lanes;

• The B.C. government fails to adhere to their own ministry safety guidelines/standards, which produces unsafe driving conditions and therefore puts the current 80 km and 90 km/hr speed limits in contravention;

• The Ministry of Transportation's stated speed changes for Highway 99 south of Whistler Heliport Road to Pemberton Boundary (21 km) with the current speed limit 80 km/hr and the new speed limit 90 km/hr, but there is no mention of changing the section of highway through Emerald Estates from 60 km/hr to 80 km/hr and 90 km/hour. In particular, it was stated that these increases are not intended for areas where there are park or road accesses to the highway.

• The B.C. government is required to provide equal access to security of the person as guaranteed by Section 7 of The Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms as stated: "(7). Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

What has occurred recently is a blatant disregard for the safety of all persons who travel this stretch of Highway 99.

Rhonda Wittman

Chris Armstrong

Give me air

Short and sweet, why do none of the gas stations in Pemberton have air machines that work and haven't for how long?

As long as I've been here... Husky, Petrocan, Esso (there's been no air)?

We are your local customers and competition is on the way.

Lori Mitchell

Pemberton

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