Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of September 20

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School buses should have seatbelts

Today I received a mail-out brochure from School District 48 (SD48), our local school district, that covered safety when operating a vehicle near a school bus.

It discussed the legal requirement for other motorists when school buses are stopped picking up or dropping off children and best practices for motorists passing a school bus. It came with a tagline of "Thank you for keeping our children safe" and a cover line of "Our Most Precious Cargo, Children."

While it is important that we drive safely, I think it is ironic, while the school district is requesting other drivers practice safety, that the school buses are themselves not particularly safe for our children. There are no seatbelts on the buses for children, and in practice children move from seat to seat while the bus is in motion, even if they are not supposed to.

Several years ago, a school bus in Whistler was in a serious accident with a taxi. Fortunately, no children were on the bus yet, as the bus was on its way to its first pickup. The bus driver, however, suffered serious injuries, including a head injury, which left him unable to work for over a year. He was wearing his seat belt.

If children were on the bus, we may have lost some of our children, and others may have suffered life-long injuries.

You can ask other drivers to be as safe as you want, but the school district needs to provide safer transport for our children.  

Actually, it's not just about other drivers, our road conditions can be treacherous, with ice, and snow on roads, a single-vehicle accident involving a school bus is not out of the question.  

While it is important for SD48 to ask other drivers to practice safety around school buses, it is important that the school district provides safe transportation for our children, even though the law does not require this higher standard.

Buses need to be fitted with seat belts, and children should be required to wear them.

No excuses.

Children are used to wearing seatbelts in cars, vans, trucks and airplanes. The seatbelt law came into force in 1977; it's about time that our school buses lost their exemption.  As the district said: children are our most precious cargo. 

Wendy Barker
Whistler

What has happened in our neighbourhood?

The municipality has created a public trail issue and there has been no consultation with the residents of Mountainview Drive, in Alpine Meadows, who are now being adversely affected by the access to the Skywalk Trail, to deal with it.

The installation of signage and a Johnny On The Spot toilet has encouraged people to use this residential cul-de-sac as the main access to this trail.

Would you as residents in your own neighbourhood accept this? We think not!We have lived in Alpine the past 30 years. This beautiful, quiet neighbourhood, where we have raised our children has now been drastically impacted by tour vans and traffic, especially on weekends. The past Labour Day weekend had approximately 45 to 50 vehicles parked on both sides of the road—half of them illegally.

Why is the municipality not enforcing the parking bylaw? Enforce the parking bylaw with fines and or towing, not warnings to discourage repeat offenders.

We understand that other established neighbourhoods in Whistler are also being impacted by our "surge in tourism."

We have never been consulted about a new trailhead at this location. To say we are astonished at the municipality's lack of communication leaves all residents disturbed to say the least.

Whistler is a community of inclusiveness, not one being overrun by personal interests. It appears that municipal personal interests are affecting local neighbourhoods. That is wrong!

We as taxpayers and voters expect that our neighbourhoods will be protected and respected.

Robert and Marianna Orr
Whistler

Parking solutions needed

Having been a long-time permanent resident of Whistler, I have enjoyed watching our community grow and evolve over the years.

One of the great additions has been the Skywalk trail at the top of Mountainview Drive in Alpine Meadows. However, when that addition starts to impact the quality of life in our residential neighbourhood, it is time to speak up.

Mountainview Drive has become a parking lot and an overnight campground for many visitors.

This behaviour appears to be encouraged by the municipality's decision to place a Porta Potty at the end of the cul-de-sac. This was done without any consultation with the residents.

We have personally counted 30 vehicles parked up and down Mountainview Drive on one day alone. We have heard that others have counted many more. These cars are blocking driveways and fire hydrants. This poses a real risk in the event of an emergency. A fire truck would never be able to negotiate that street with all of the vehicles parked on it.

We have even noticed visitors cooking with open flames on cook stoves.

Solutions to this problem need to be put in place and limiting parking in the area would be a good place to start.

Ticket and tow those parked illegally.

Provide shuttle service, as happened when Lost Lake parking became unmanageable.

This problem is not only in our neighbourhood. If you go to the top of Alpine Way, no-parking signs have been place in that cul-de-sac, an area that is also an entrance to a very popular trailhead.

We look forward to a solution to this issue.

Maridee Fitch
Whistler

Keep Joffre beautiful

I am 10 years old and I live in Pemberton.

I went to Joffre Lakes last week with my class. We went for one night. We saw a beautiful waterfall and above it was a huge glacier. I feel that this is a beautiful place and it needs to be respected.

I think there should be a limit of people coming each day.

I saw litter (a blow up mattress!) and the toilets were disgusting. If we don't limit the people, it will cause more damage. 

I had a great time up there. 

I hope other kids have a chance to go up there too, but I hope it is clean and beautiful.

Aiden Firth
Pemberton

Cheakamus celebrates community

Thank you Cheakamus Crossing residents for showing up rain or shine at our second annual block party on Sept. 9.

As the lead organizer of the party, it was a pleasure to organize and play the music in the beer garden.

It goes to show that we as a neighbourhood will persevere to have that connection at the block party with our families and residents whether there is rain or shine.

I realize we have a special connection in Cheakamus Crossing and feel it is important to hold these block parties, and I would like to thank the following people and groups for making it happen this year: Dan Wilson at the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and the grant that was provided.

Thanks to Tim Koshul who saved the party by supplying the Igloo to keep the kids and Ira Pettle dry so he could keep them entertained—did he ever. The kids absolutely loved it and that makes the party worth it.

Jerry and Kent at Creekside Market generously donated hot dogs, buns and condiments. The Stratas of Cheakamus Crossing also donated and the Rotary Club volunteers helped scoop out the gelato for the kids and adults.

Ryan Murfitt of the Hi Hostel was an integral part of the party and is a fantastic community member. Thanks to Robyn from Flacas Tacos for the tasty tacos and to the Resort Municipality of Whistler for waiving the park fees again this year and supporting our block party.

AWARE helped educate us on sustainability and also cleaning up our mess—thanks! Thanks to Jody from Whistler BMX for loaning us two tents, which we needed and much appreciated, and for representing Whistler BMX at the party.

And last but not least, thanks to all the volunteers that helped us set up and tear down.

I would also like to thank my awesome committee this year: Pat and Peter Dagg, Courtney Knight, Alissa Powell, Ryan Murfitt and Adam Protter (special thanks to Adam for loaning us his tent and BBQ utensils).

The 2017 block party was going to be a one and done but with the support of the neighbourhood and Dan and his team I see many block parties in the future.

Thank you neighbours for showing up and supporting the party.

Doug Ryan
Lead organizer, Cheakamus Crossing Block Party 2018

Affordable living impossible

What troubling times Whistler now finds itself in, with so very much at stake in the upcoming election.

This is by no means a surprise given the writing has been on the wall for some time now (at least four years if not more). There has been a shift so great in the day-to-day encounters of those that live and play in Whistler that one has the feeling those that are in the positions to bring about some positive changes have been asleep at the wheel, or had their heads tucked away in the sand, eyes covered and ears plugged.

When I hear about Whistler suffering from over-success, I have to wonder just what that really means having heard that so much lately. On the housing availability and high-cost-of-living issue, a good portion of that problem could possibly be fixed in a couple months, if not weeks. If each hotel in Whistler were to allocate 10 to 20 per cent of their rooms as apartment rentals with restrictions, it may go a long ways to putting smiles back on the faces and into the hearts of the many front-line and management workers feeling ripped off and burnt out. 

When I lived and worked in Whistler from 2010 to 2012, I worked five days and 60 hours per week. I had the benefit back then of living in a Whistler Housing Authority new bachelor studio in the athletes' village post-Olympics. I used public transit to get into work and back each day during winter and cycled back and forth often during the spring through fall months. I would often enjoy a swim here and there in one of our mountain lakes to cool down at day's end. I swallowed up all the beauty that surrounded me and shared it with all. 

The cost of that new 450-square-foot studio space was about $800 per month including heat and hydro. My monthly income as a Class 4 driver averaged approximately $3,000 including gratuities. It was on average a terrible hourly income but given the location of Whistler and the lower cost of my new accommodations, about 25 per cent of my gross income, it was reasonable and it allowed for the possibility of living a healthy active lifestyle as a bachelor in Whistler.

That kind of model is hard to find in Whistler these days and if Whistler is to be successful in the future, it will need to recreate those kinds of opportunities for both visiting front-line workers and for low- and mid-management staff, so that those that pay to simply visit and play have people to look after their wants and needs in a manner that serves those visitors and the collective good vibe of Whistler. 

The successful past of this resort community was always based on keeping all in Whistler content. We need to shoot for that objective moving forward so that Whistler is truly overly successful in the most positive of ways.

Brian Wolfgang Becker
North Vancouver

Kicking a dead horse

Well, Jack (Crompton), you are about to be handed your 15 minutes. What you choose to do with these 15 minutes will have an everlasting effect on the place you call home.

Perhaps you use this time to focus on what made Whistler, Whistler. I am not referring to issuing new permits for retail or restaurants; it's not about the new owners of Whistler Blackcomb.

I am referring to the people that call Whistler home, the faces that join us for a winter season to help with people getting on and off the chairlift, the people that have sacrificed their 15 minutes so they can be part of a collaboration of dedication to make Whistler what it is today.

I wish you the best of luck and I hope you stay true to your ideals and principles.

I also wanted to take the time to kick the dead horse, "Why the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not the answer to our problems."

I don't expect the Chamber of Commerce to take what I say to heart, at the end of the day, they work for the businesses of Whistler and not the people that actually keep the lights on, the employees of Whistler.

Perhaps they will consider the facts released by the municipality of Whistler (https://www.whistler.ca/sites/default/files/2018/May/community-monitoring/files/20353/2017_whistler_living_wage_final_report.pdf).

A liveable hourly wage for a parent, per the muni, is $26.88 per parent. A liveable hourly wage for a seasonal worker is $14.37, per the muni. Within the calculation for a seasonal employee here for six months, the dollar amount they have for shelter, which is based on a private room within a shared house, is $5,466, which equals to $911 a month. This doesn't include utilities.

It's fair to say this number isn't even close to what the actual number should be, do I have that actual number? No, I don't.  However, I did go onto Craigslist and I took the rental amount for the first 10 private rooms and calculated an average. The total of the 10 private rooms was $11,580 per month and I divided it into 10 for an average $1,158 per month.

They also have a calculation for what a seasonal worker will pay over six months for utilities, cell phone and internet. I have calculated all three into one, for six months the muni has calculated a seasonal worker will pay a total of $511 for the six months, which equals $85.16 a month. It's fair to say that these dollar amounts are in the realm of make believe and leprechauns—you can't even get a decent cell phone package for $85.16 a month.

There is a point to all of this. In fairness, I think the liveable hourly rate for a seasonal worker should actually be somewhere between $17 to $19 an hour.  Since the shortage of employees has become such a serious topic, a lot of employers have tried to sweeten the pot. Let's be real about the situation. If employers weren't being forced to become more competitive to retain employees, the hourly rates and incentive packages would have remained the same.

What do you think is going to happen if all of a sudden, Whistler is able to tap into a large group of employees? You can say goodbye to this competitive nature.

Just last week, the Chamber had mentioned the lack of middle management when it was talking about increasing the age for the Australian work visas (good call, by the way). A lot of middle management jobs go to people that are planning on being here for more than six months or have already been here for a period of time.

It's probably safe to say a lot of these positions are filled, or could be filled, by parents. The hourly rate (yes, I am aware these positions are generally a salary position, take your yearly salary and divide it by 2,080—the amount of full time hours within a calendar year) for a middle-management position is nowhere near $26.88 an hour, not even in the same ballpark.

I was involved within several middle-management positions in the hospitality sector in Whistler and the actual hourly rate is more like $22 an hour.

If you still can't accept housing affordability being the issue for lack of employees perhaps the article on Pique's website might bring some clarity to the situation—"Relief for B.C. renters on its way."

So Mr. (Val) Litwin (president and CEO of BC Chamber of Commerce) with a one per cent vacancy rate, where do you plan on housing a sudden surge of people coming to Whistler?

You can't live in your vehicle without receiving a ticket, you cannot camp without receiving a ticket and a lot of new people can't even find housing.

There were 731 tickets handed out in 2018 to people living in their vehicles, double from the year before.

Then you have garbage island. First of all, shame on all of you for not being more respectful to your surrounding environment. How many bears could have potentially become victims because of your garbage? With that being said, is anyone surprised? Squatting has always been part of the existence of Whistler. If my memory serves me correctly, isn't that how the ladies got the land where they started the Nesters bottle recycling?

So before you go and put all your eggs into one TFWP basket, perhaps steps should be taken to help fix what is already here now—731 people sleeping in cars and 52 tickets for illegal camping, you add those two numbers up and you get 783. In this week's Pique, there are 382 job opportunities available. If half of the ticket holders had a permanent, reasonably priced roof over their heads in next week's Pique, there would be zero job opportunities available.

Paul Rowe
Pemberton

Running for Terry Fox

From the tiptoes of our runners to the bottom of our hearts, the people of Pemberton, Mount Currie and surrounding areas would like to thank Diane Hartle for organizing the annual Terry Fox Run for the last 26 years.

Diane continued to help with this year's event on Sept. 16, providing guidance to Kevani MacDonald, Mary-Anne MacDonald, Jackie Warnica, Natalie Langmann, Jessica Turner and Lindsay May who all volunteered their time to make the event a success, raising $2,663.15 for cancer research.

Thank you to all of this year's 115 participants, to the Pemberton Valley Supermarket for donating water, granola bars and fruit, to the Meadows at Pemberton Golf Course for donating coffee, to Lesley Stockwell Ballhausen and Clif Bar for all the swag and snacks, and to Tracey McCutcheon Rozsypalek for opening her washrooms for us. 

Follow our Facebook page to see all the photos from the event and to stay connected throughout the year.

Lindsay May
Pemberton and area Terry Fox Run

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