I usually approach your newsmagazine differently each week. Last week, for whatever reason, I read Maxed Out first. I have to admit it got me going, as my interaction with a police officer during the protests was very similar.
I then read Mr. Barnetts editorial and he gave a different perspective. One I also relate to. Watching the stand-off Saturday between protesters and police outside the conference centre, I felt bad for the police as Mr. Barnett points out they are in a no-win situation.
Having said that though we are in the business of service here in Whistler. When I was told by an angst gentleman in uniform that I could not drive down Village Gate Boulevard the options laid out to me were: 1. GO AROUND. When asked which way he would suggest, I was informed by this person whom I had never met before that I knew better than him, so just go around. Explaining that it appeared that all the roads into the main village were closed I was given option 2. PARK AND WALK. The officer explained to me "MY PATIENCE IS WEARING THIN JUST GO AROUND!" And I was the first car to pull up to this roadblock; pity the next confused/lost tourist. I would have much more compassion for the police if their representative had displayed a little less anger/attitude.
Perhaps a solution if we have other major events here that require such large security contingents could be that part of the planning should be how to deal with the general public. They are not the bad guys here; they are the ones who are the reason our town exists.
For the days before we had a massive police presence we had two and three officers, always together and in full tactical uniform, strolling throughout our town. This time could/should have been spent establishing options for people who had made the mistake of being here the same time as the people whom the police apparently had planned to close the roads for.
Lets all learn from this so we are not victims of protests/demonstrations that right or wrong, as Mr. Barnett points out, have a right in a democracy to be heard.
Here in B.C., we all live in one of, if not the most, beautiful parts of planet earth. We are known the world over for our natural beauty and wildlife, and especially for a way of life which we are fortunate to have. Our prosperity relies on forestry, mining, fishing and tourism which includes our beautiful beaches and rugged coast line sprinkled with its hundreds of small islands and their lovely coves, waterfalls and public park lands.
We also have the finest winter playgrounds and ski resorts throughout this beautiful province, which contribute immensely to the wealth, economy and way of life that we are all privileged to enjoy.
Now we are bidding on the 2010 Winter Olympics, which could be a wonderful two weeks for the Vancouver and Whistler tourist industries providing the weather co-operates with us at that time, which can be a bit of a gamble. The cost is projected to be up in the millions of dollars. To submit our bid is also a gamble, requiring a lot of money money we could be spending on further expansion of the current facilities at the many ski hills and resorts in B.C that are a major part of the provinces economy.
Would it not be better to promote B.C. to the world as a winter tourist destination, boosting our economy through a greater expansion of our provinces existing resources? Why gamble millions of dollars when we all know we no longer have to go abroad to find winter sports, as they are scattered throughout this beautiful winter playground?
This would help some of the struggling villages and towns in B.C. trying to recover. Just think of B.C. as the playground of the world with its ski and snowboard hills and mountains, golf courses, lakes and rivers. I am sure this would benefit our economy far more, and create a greater amount of jobs throughout the province for all B.C. citizens, for many, many years, than would the two weeks of the Olympics.
As I have said before, tourism is for the future generations of this province and is not a two-week cash cow. Where will the Liberals find more than $20 million to back our bid when at present there are no funds to look after our number one problem medical services which is a much greater issue than the Olympics.
I've skied and been in the ski industry since 1929. My first love is skiing, and the mountains and oceans. And as much as anyone I would like to see the Olympics, but it should not be at the expense of the rest of B.C. Can we really afford it?
Despite all the publicity on how to avoid bear-human conflicts, it was disturbing to hear of two more bear deaths due to the ignorance of human error and the lethal actions of the conservation officers as reported in the Pique (Aug. 3, 2001).
This morning, I was witness to a bear encounter and I was disheartened to think that this young bear could become another statistic due to human negligence. As I was walking with a friend and our dogs on a local hiking trail, we came upon a campsite and saw a bear rummaging through the back of a pick-up truck. After scaring the bear away, we woke the owner in his tent from what must have been a "very deep sleep" to advise him that a bear had torn through food and garbage which it accessed through the open tailgate of his truck. How stupid can we humans be?
I applaud the work of the J.J. Whistler Bear Society, Michael Allen, The Municipality of Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, etc. in doing their utmost to try to educate both locals and visitors on bear country etiquette, and the RCMP for their use of non-lethal tactics with bear-human encounters. I hope more people heed the advice of these local experts to ensure the lives of these beautiful creatures.
In view of the recent bear killings by the Conservation Officer Service, I would like to point out that there is a tremendous onus on the community at large to be responsible residents of bear country. Eliminating bear attractants is key to minimizing conflict situations. Garbage must be stored indoors or in bear-proof containers, avoid the use of birdfeeders during bear season (March-November), keep pet food inside, keep your BBQs and compost clean, and remove fruit from trees as it ripens.
Furthermore, it is critical that community members act responsibly by not allowing undesirable bear behaviour to get out of hand. Please call the RCMP when you witness potential problem behaviour. The RCMP are equipped and trained in non-lethal bear management and can deal with a human-bear conflict situation promptly.
If the bears can be dealt with immediately while they are exhibiting undesirable behaviour, then we can effectively teach the bears how to coexist in our territory. Negative conditioning is more effective if used right away, as well as each time the animal exhibits undesirable behaviour.
Bears must understand when they have crossed the line and the lines must remain consistent. It is critical we dont send the bears a mixed message, allowing them to feel comfortable relaxing on our porches and feeding from our bird feeders. To begin with, this is neither acceptable nor respectful bear behavior. Bears should not be allowed to feel comfortable too close to our "dens" or be permitted to eat our human foods. Of course its OK to allow them to pass through and enjoy their company. Whistler loves its bears. But dont allow them to cross the line. It will only end in the bears demise. Bears will learn to be far more tolerant of us, than we can be of them. As highly intelligent and adaptive animals, they will learn this very quickly.
I understand that many residents enjoy having bears in their backyards and dont mind the bears accessing their bird seed. It will cost the bear his life if you assume your neighbours have the same level of tolerance as you do. There are many residents who are uncomfortable having bears close to their homes and we must respect hat. Conservation officers have no alternatives, under current government policy, but to destroy bears where "there is reason to conclude that the animal has gone through the food-conditioning process and would attempt to return to human activity areas."
The J.J. Whistler Bear Society urges community members to let the government know that their current wildlife management policy is unacceptable and must be changed. We can also provide advice on how to take action.
Lets work together to teach bears the limits of unacceptable behaviour. You can learn more about living with bears by calling JJWBS at 905-4209 or by visiting us on line at www.bearsmart.com
It is our responsibility to be Bear Smart. People and bears can live in harmony.
Director, J.J. Whistler Bear Society