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Letters to the editor


Like the oft-misused term "ecotourism," I’m already growing suspicious of the casual rolling-off-the-tongue use of "sustainability" in the Sea to Sky corridor. Somehow it seems that 1), the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and, 2) there’s a whole lot of "talking the talk" of sustainability, without genuine, demonstrative "walking the walk" with the current construction boom in the corridor.

In recent weeks, I’ve felt like I was passing through a developing nation’s slash and burn countryside, while driving through plumes of smoke at the north edge of Squamish. Why are crews burning huge piles of tree stumps and debris along Highway 99 at the latest golf and residential development? Doesn’t Carney’s Waste Systems now have a composting facility that is keen to get a steady supply of wood and yard waste in order to function and create the organic fertilizer? Why isn’t there an ordinance against burning?

Have you been to Pemberton lately? Every time I turn around there’s a new wood frame structure rising from the valley floor. Piles of 2x6 ends and other construction discards lie in big piles that are burned at the building site. Yep, more smoke plumes. Is there no ordinance against open burning there, either?

Whistler’s dump is full of kiln-dried dimensional lumber full of nails that construction workers couldn’t be bothered to remove – takes too much time, and time is money. The wood could be given away for people to burn, at the very least. Thousands of residents in the corridor burn wood for aesthetics or heat. I am familiar with a recycling facility in Anchorage, Alaska that recycles all organic waste, including trees, stumps, rotted and new wood and construction wastes (with or without nails), turning it into beautifully dark, loamy soil. There is no reason for a single scrap of organic matter to ever be burned, or dumped anymore.

Are the monstrous trophy homes we continue to build in North America (including a fair share in Whistler) a true demonstration of sustainability? American LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards not withstanding, on the one hand, I applaud the architect who recently received an award for the $7.9 million energy-efficient Whistler home, but I condemn the project. Who needs 5,000 square feet of living space? If Whistler is truly aiming to be a model of sustainability, I believe everyone should be promoting small, energy-efficient living spaces. Were Whistler’s wealthy to move in this direction, the town could literally move to the cutting edge of sustainability.

Squamish and Pemberton could take a lead as well, instead of following in the same, tired footsteps of developers who have gone before. Soon, the quaint towns that we once knew will be filled with residential and retail developments, mini-malls, parking lots. Is there any grand vision behind the future of the Pemberton and Squamish valleys? Will new developments reflect the environment and beauty around us, or be just more eyesores?

With $313 million slated for construction of Olympic facilities in Whistler alone, I would think that the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games would be carefully screening the bids for construction contracts that practice 100 per cent sustainability. Real sustainability, not just lip service.

Karen Jettmar



As usual, I enjoyed Maxwell's column (Feb. 27, 2004, Me and Dubya and Vietnam) wherein he describes his Vietnam era adventures. Where we part company is in the last lines of the second to the last paragraph, wherein Max states "Frankly, staying the hell out of Vietnam is one of the smartest things Bush ever did."

President Bush and I shared, at approximately the same time, a similar experience, that of Air Force Pilot Training. His successful conclusion insured his continued participation as an airborne defender of America's soft underbelly, and mine, continued participation in the ongoing struggle to defend our freedoms in far off foreign lands.

How I wish our experiences were similar! Had the future President Bush been by my side in Vietnam he would have learned first hand the poverty of people powerless to do little to change their life experiences. He would have learned first hand the terror of living with the unexpected and learned the very limitations of military power poorly or not poorly applied. He would have learned that overwhelming military superiority does little to win hearts and minds and the difficulty of selling democracy to people that had no lifetime perception of the freedoms of choice for their own lifetimes were limited to subsistence living and a world view that consisted of a trip to the nearby village for a visit to the open air market.

I can't speak for George, but for myself this experience did change my world view. And while it is true President Kennedy sent us there, I've not had much in common with Republicans since the divining experience Vietnam became. I wish George had gone! He would probably be a better President! Maybe even a Democrat.

Geoffrey C. Kelly

Seattle, Wa.


A public meeting was held in Pemberton on March 9th regarding a rezoning application requested by BC Rail. It was painfully clear that the residents did not want the rezoning – a proposal that would allow 13 homes to be built on a parcel that is currently zoned for one single family residence.

In fact, only two out of 45 residents saw any merits in the rezoning, everyone else was firmly against it.

Now the pressure appears to be on Pemberton council. Do they listen to Vancouver-based project consultants that are there only for as long as it takes to sell the land… or do they listen to their own residents?

Should it be a difficult decision?

Beth Solem



BC Rail, BC Rail, BC Rail. Like the crush I have upon a girl, this is something that just won’t go away.

I stopped the last passenger train, from Prince George to Vancouver, approximately 17 months ago. To estimate its arrival, I used an old passenger schedule. You see in 1971, the Budd car was supposed to arrive approximately 50 metres from where I live on Alta Lake at 6:53 p.m. On Halloween 2002, it arrived at about 10:15 p.m. Being its last night and all it was taking its time on its final trip. It was running three hours late from its scheduled arrival time of 7:10 p.m. That is a 17-minute schedule change in 30 years.

Also, due to the rate class system, fares were significantly higher within the transportation bottleneck know as the Sea to Sky corridor then everywhere else. Paul McElligot, X-CEO of BCR writes in the Feb 27 th 2004 issue of the Pique: "we attempted to revitalize the passenger service in a number of ways and spent significant resources on equipment and marketing plans to ensure we gave it every opportunity to succeed."

During the ’90s our railway slowly went bankrupt and now it is to be sold. Our gross from the sale will be $500 million, not even the cost of our highway upgrade.

And now we have the RCMP raiding the legislature to try and penetrate the cloak of secrecy surrounding the deal between CN Rail and the provincial Liberal government.

In 2002, suffering from an incredible debt, BC Rail still posted a profit, while supplying $5 million annually to operate a public passenger service. I would sure feel better about this whole deal if I knew that CN Rail was going to do the same.

This entire corridor is going to rapidly expand over the next 20 years. Whistler is the only community in the Sea to Sky with a bad joke, I mean bed cap. With such a massive projected population increase, it is necessary that we use every available form of transportation to sustain this development. From what I have heard, in Norway is the only other highway in the world that runs along the inside of a fjord. I wish people would stop applying the logic of Texas to our transportation problem.

Bjorn Gimse



Once again the powers to be have chosen the cover of Architectural Digest over functionality: $7.5 million for a library. Locating the library near some existing above-ground parking would immediately save $1.6 million. The profits from the sales of the existing library site could be applied against the cost.

When considering the actual building costs, compare the Spring Creek school with the very functional Pemberton public school. I would choose the latter as a taxpayer or if a parent – more funding for educational needs. Like the Spring Creek firehall (approx cost near $2 million) the library will be built too extreme. The question is, how much over budget will it be?

Jim Kennedy



To the people of Whistler and surrounding areas, my name is Ben Richardson and I would like to thank everyone who voted me Favourite Whistlerite of 2003 (Pique Best of Whistler, Dec. 26, 2003). I live in Squamish so this was very unexpected.

Again I would like to thank you from the top of my heart and wish you all a fantastic 2004 and years to come.

My condolences to the families and friends of Jamie Burnette, Ed Elliot, Daryl Stevensen and Mike Beniot, who were sadly taken away at the Rutherford bridge last year.

And finally to Whistler’s top civil servant, Mayor Hugh O'Reilly: "sorry" but better luck next year!

See you all out there, somewhere. Keep smiling and drive safely.

Ben Richardson (TCP at Lake Placid Road)



Thanks, thanks, and, more thanks.

Wow, what a great community Pemberton is to live, work, and raise our children. Our family participated in, and, thoroughly enjoyed, two hugely successful annual events over the past weekend.

Many, many thanks to the organizers and volunteers of Saturday’s Caribbean Night. It just gets better every year. The amount of wholesome, fun, activities; watching kids and parents having such a good time together; the laughter; it was absolutely wonderful! Our kids have already asked about buying a hoola-hoop to start practising for next year.

Sunday, another successful Pemberton Spud Valley Loppet, with people of all ages, competitors and recreational skiers, parents and their kids, all enjoying a morning of cross-country skiing in our beautiful valley. Again, lots of smiles, red cheeks, good food, and, healthy fun! Thanks to those who put it all together and those who volunteered to make it happen.

God bless you all for giving so much!

Mark, Kathy, Rachel, and, Hannah Leverton



Re: the World Freestyle Snowmobile and Motocross Competition that was to take place April 23 rd , 2004 at the Pemberton Stock Car track

Last year's event, the third annual, was a huge success, with 1,200 spectators and all sponsors, pro freestyle athlete Jason Fentiman winning first place in the freestyle snowmobiling category, starting things off with the national anthem singer, pyrotechnics, a native dance song to remember all our lost friends in the backcountry, choreography by Whistler Dance Academy and the main attraction: death defying freestyle motorcross air by pro international athletes from Kawasaki that stunned spectators.

Putting the event together each year was a tremendous amount of work I but enjoyed every minute of it. I feel this motor sport event is completely in order as there are a huge number of motor sport fanatics in Whistler and no events. The events have gained tremendous support through the years, which was needed to have the event take place.

This year I had to make the tough decision of whether or not to pursue the fourth annual event. There have been many opportunities arise through this event and being the main character for Whistler Stories. I have found a passion for night club promotions, independently booking different theme parties that are huge successes. I have found a huge passion for assistant directing, taking acting classes, dance, commentating, singing and the Whistler Film Festival. My plans are to move to the city in the spring to pursue these passions. Vancouver has opportunities while Whistler does not have enough work in the film industry, other than sports action films.

The event is not dead. WFSA is simply reassessing dates and in discussions with the Pemberton Stock Car Association. Future plans are to hold a snowmobile race in the winter with a freestyle snowmobiling show, as April is too late in the season to hold such an event. Summer plans include a freestyle motocross event with entertainment, with permission from the track opertors.

Moving to the city will enable me to gain more contacts in the industry for these events and to do mega promotions, as well as pursue my career in film. WFSA will be making a comeback!

As I am still keeping the event alive I have scheduled the third annual Sicksleds Motor Sport Industry party show at Moe Joe's Monday, March 15 th , which is supporting the fourth annual World Freestyle Snowmobile and Motocross Competition.

I would like to thank all the newspapers, photographers, filmmakers, magazines, sponsors, excavation companies, athletes, the Pemberton Stock Car Association and the man that originated the name and event idea, Dave Craig of Dave Craig Film Productions. If I have missed anyone a huge thank you. I could have not done it without you.

Linda Stang