Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of September 4th


Reality check

I have been reading the Pique since it began, and it is one of the best free things to do in Whistler. One of your best opinion writers is GD Maxwell. You do not have to agree with his viewpoint to appreciate what it takes to publish a full page every week.

But why the "Maxed Out" hatred?

Max is an ex lawyer, like myself, (and) is trained to approach issues from a rational logical unravelling of facts. As Shakespeare wrote, the reaction of some is if you do not like the conclusion, "shoot the lawyers."

 Neither Max, Pique nor this community is anti Semitic. Nor is Whistler a place "Jews cannot live in peace." While I would take the same facts and start from the right to defend oneself from rockets and justify continuing the counterattack until the enemy agrees to stop the rockets, it is neither idiotic, illogical or anti Jewish to point out that a peace treaty that does not require your enemy to stop building rockets or tunnels will not solve the long-term problem. 

A further logical continuation would conclude there are better options than a voluntary move to Florida. But Max never concluded this was the only solution, a realistic solution, or the best solution only a possible logical way to stop the blood letting (Pique, Aug.14).

Similarly this week (Aug. 28) Max logically concluded that since Whistler employers have chosen not to not hire enough workers paying a sustainable wage that there will be a labour shortage.

Three years ago I attended a Whistler lecture by an economist who after a government-funded research project concluded that for a worker to rent an apartment, eat and use public transportation it was necessary to earn $18 an hour for 35 hours a week year round. Yet our employers have risked that a flow of temporary workers would come here for the two high seasons and supply enough labour for them to run their businesses. Guess what happens people either do not come here to work because they cannot sustain themselves, or save for the future. The hope is that temporary foreign workers and students will continue to fill the void, but why should we assume this would happen? Is it not more logical to pay over $20 an hour to a higher percentage of your workers, and provide cheap accommodation for the rest, so they will be able to afford to stay longer?

In this week's Question Nick Davies, another lawyer, opined that the problem is just bad press coverage. Most young people do not read the press, but they know if they want to ski and work it is not sustainable here long term.

In Europe the wages are much higher and the employer often supplies the accommodation. Whistler Blackcomb has it partially correct by having accommodation available, and a free ski pass, but the wages do not pay the bar bill and food on a year round basis.

Guess what? Many Whistler workers return to Europe or Australia, where they are from, or find other work elsewhere in Canada where they can make a long-term future and raise a family.

Some will stay here because they love the place, but you cannot eat love.

Others find better-paid jobs or start businesses and stay.

Max is correct to point out how Tourism Whistler has done an excellent job bringing in the business, but has failed to figure out that more and more Temporary Foreign Workers are needed to keep the engine running.

Michael Blaxland


Partners in water energy

The In-SHUCK-ch Nation represents Samahquam and Skatin First Nations in the BC Treaty Commission process.

After treaty, In-SHUCK-ch will be the central government with representation from the current Indian Bands as local governments. Ours was the first First Nation to formally enter the B.C. treaty process, in December of 1993. Our primary motivation was simply to bring our people home.

Owing to the isolation, our members had out-migrated, so that by 1993 there was no permanent resident population on any of our Indian reserves. And, we knew that it was not enough to simply build houses for people to occupy. We needed to build and sustain an economy.

We felt that, rather than providing them with homes, that we should give our people the means to provide their own. We felt that treaty would profile our need, and that an employment sustaining economy would be in tourism given our strategic location in proximity to the Sea to Sky corridor and the Fraser Valley.

By the mid-90s we commissioned our wealth-creation action plan that set this out. We felt that we would get experience (we soon learned how to lose money) in forestry through licenses that were available under the forest and range agreements with B.C.

At about that same time, the B.C. (NDP) government began accepting applications for water licenses to allow proponents the opportunity to develop independent power projects (IPPs). We realized the potential of this considering our mountainous terrain with flowing streams. Our plan called for achieving an ownership stake in these projects. We had watched while forest companies had come and gone, giving some employment, but taking out the profits to invest elsewhere.

We knew that we had to have equity. However, we soon found that we could not afford even the nominal application fee, not to mention the costs of maintaining water licenses.

And, so we pushed hard at the treaty table for water reservations on our streams, knowing that these would allow us to negotiate with developers from a position of strength, thereby allowing the equity position we needed.

In late 2009, with a provincial general election looming, our proposal for water reservations was denied.

Realizing that successful developers required tenures for both water and land, we pressed for early title (pre-treaty) to strategically located lands where these projects would be built.

After treaty these "early lands transfers" will be part of treaty settlement lands. By this time, Innergex Renewable Energy had applied for the water licenses. And so, negotiations with Innergex began in August 2013.

Now, in August of 2014, Samahquam Nation, Skatin First Nation and In-SHUCK-ch Nation have jointly signed a term sheet with Innergex that provides for equity, preferred contractor status, and other considerations.

By agreement, these six projects will be built in three stages, over a number of years in order to prevent a boom-bust cycle.

The Nations' attention is now turning toward how to manage as real players in the regional and provincial economy.

Of course we're already fielding criticisms that the projects will impact our streams. We've had to weigh that against the social costs that come with being satisfied with the status quo.

We never have been, and we've chosen to do something about it rather than take a position as bystander. We think that ours is an example where the opportunities afforded by the politics of treaty have lined up with the opportunities of economic growth based on positive use of natural resources.

We and our partner (Innergex) are now lobbying the B.C. government to support our need for an energy purchase agreement that's necessary to make our projects viable.

Eppa (Gerard Peters)

Chief Negotiator

In-SHUCK-ch Nation

It was a howling success!

The wind was howling, shifting and gusting over 20 knots on the weekend, but the young sailors, aged nine to 17 were up for the challenge, as were a few adults. Thank you Mother Nature! With 40 sailboats on Alta Lake, from 8' Optimists to 14' "29-er's" planing, capsizing and vying for top spots, the BC Sailing Association's "Whistler Regatta" was deemed a huge success. Positive comments flowed back to head coach Francois Hebert, and organizers Kim and Bronwen, from parents, who themselves, were past Olympic sailors.

The Whistler Sailing Association was proud to host this annual event, and is very grateful to the community partners and supporters that include, title sponsor, Navis Marine Insurance, Helly Hansen, Nesters  Market, Crèpe Montagne, Hilton Hotel Catering Department, RMOW events team, BC Sailing Association, SnowMountain Projects, and McDonald's Restaurant. In addition, the funding from local organizations has played a huge role in providing Whistler Sailing Association with sailboats, equipment and training to develop our young talent; thanks to Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, American Friends of Whistler, Whistler Council's CEP Grants & BC Gaming.

And, thank you Whistler for providing such friendly hospitality for our destination sailors. 

Fair Winds.

Patrick McCurdy, Commodore

Francois Hebert, Head Coach

Whistler Sailing Association

A Festival Full of Thanks

Thanks to everyone in the community who supported the third Annual Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival at The Point last weekend. What does it take to put on a festival that celebrates local creativity and puts on a memorable two days of arts events for all ages?

First of all, a bunch of dedicated artists who step up with their best work, emerging artists working side by side with seasoned professionals, all of them stretching themselves with new challenges to create something truly unique and original. Thanks to the playwrights, actors, directors, musicians, models, dancers, painters, sketchers and more.

Secondly, it takes a huge number of volunteers, from teenagers to seniors and everyone in between to come out to erect tents, deliver chairs, lights, sound equipment, groceries, kegs, cook meals, arrange furniture, take tickets, serve food and drinks, and then clean it all up. What an incredible group of people we were able to work with and what a sense of community the experience always fosters.

Finally, the whole thing wouldn't get off the ground without the support of so many local sponsors that allow us to pay the artists and put on a professional show for all to enjoy. From our presenting sponsor, Gibbons Life, to our ongoing sponsors, Nesters Market and Whistler Brewing Company, to all of those who step up annually to support the festival: Pasta Lupino, Moguls Coffee House, Armchair Books, Local Automotive, Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler Question, Mountain FM, Southside Diner, Dubh Linn Gate, Whistler Foto Source, Whistler Roasting Company, Aphrodite's Organic Café, Backroads Whistler, Toad Hall Studios, the Whistler Arts Council, and the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation who's funding for our beautiful new marquee tent made the floating stage possible throughout a weekend of dramatic and changeable weather.

Thanks also to the RMOW for the magic trick of turning a swimming dock into a floating stage and back again, and for the wonderful improvements to the kitchen and bathrooms in the lodge. Finally, thank you to everyone who came out each night for the outdoor theatre and live music performances. We look forward to seeing you at the All Original Orphan's Thanksgiving in October!

Stephen Vogler

Artistic Director, The Point Artist-Run Centre

Rotarian thanks

Quite a simple concept, but pretty much known universally around the world for its sustaining power: Add one corn cob to boiling water for a while then serve with hot butter and spices and you've got a winner to the palate.

To everyone who bought a cob over the long weekend from us on the Village Stroll, thank you, we hope you enjoyed it.  We thank you for your contribution to the greater good of your morning Rotary Club in Whistler, and to the various projects that you help us to help others with during the year.

Special thanks must go out to our major suppliers and great community assets, The Grocery Store for the Chilliwack peaches & cream corn and Sabre Rentals for the propane (they are truly unsung heroes of so many worthwhile projects in this community all year long, not just for ours), to Vancouver Coastal Health Whistler for providing the framework to assure we served safe and healthy product, to Denise and Ken for providing R2D2, the portable hand washing station, to Curtis, Jenn, Anette and Dawn and their crew at the RMOW who helped us with the permits, for the set up and clean up each day, to the Holiday Inn for access to their water supply, to Rotarians Jim and Jim for their transport and storage facilities, to Katie for her sign making, and a big shout to all who served the corn all weekend and put up with my awkwardness from time to time.

From Doug Mildenberger and myself, thank you for making this our best épluchette de blé d'Inde ever!

In the end, no matter how hard we work at a task, it is all about that one person you will meet .(Rotary International) has been to them, how in their private time of need, there was someone who was there for them, lifted them up just a little bit, and that was all that was needed.

That my friends, reminded me of why I've become a Rotarian.

Wendell Moore


Air traffic query

As I sit here in my living room, I hear two small planes fly overhead: one after the other. With helicopter and float plane tours so popular this summer, combined with float plane traffic to the lower mainland, there is more air traffic this year.

Combine that with regular medi-vac helicopters (when we get the helipad up and running at max, which will be a wonderful and necessary service), gliders, base jumpers, hang gliders and soon drones, I am curious as to who the air traffic controller is.

I am not against air traffic, although it is contributing to noise pollution.

Nothing would be more spectacular than to see Whistler from the air! I do it from the Peak to Peak!

We certainly don't want to hear of another air disaster such as the one last year over Nairn Falls. Can someone respond to my question? I'm interested in the air traffic!

Trish Thom


Protest banners have right to be hung

On Thursday morning the Emergency Program Director of the Squamish Lillooet Regional Distict showed up at my door to serve a notice requesting I remove the banners at the rock bluff on Highway 99 at Britannia Beach "as soon as possible to avoid further action."

Apparently the RCMP felt they constituted a hazard by distracting motorists?

The banners were deemed to violate Section 3. 1(d) of the SLRD by-law No. 618, 1998 regulating signs.

I contend that these banners have met with the appropriate protocol and administrative procedure, which is with Squamish First Nation. The rock bluff utilized is a sacred site used historically as a point of demarcation upon which, periodically, severed heads were staked of those that had breached protocol and were in violation of community as a warning to others.

I have followed appropriate protocol and ceremony. When first using the site (which happens to be directly adjacent to the property I occupy) I used the ceremony of drumming with song to sanctify it's use.

This matter will be taken to the SLRD council where I am hopeful we can reconcile differences of jurisdiction in the understanding that firstly this is not in technical breach of the by-law, since it is a "temporary use," but mostly in the hope of reconciling any difference perhaps through the application for a "variance" by which all other non-conforming permanent signage is generally sanctioned.

I am more hopeful that the SLRD will recognize these are unceded territories and that the bluff is a sacred site not fully within their jurisdiction.

Ralph Fulber

Britannia Beach

(Editor's note: Please see related story on page 25.)