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Letters to the editor

This week's letters


My husband and I have lived in Whistler since 1987 and have tried to participate in many of the activities that have been here for us to enjoy. As well as that, we have been interested in many aspects of helping to make Whistler a better place for everyone to live and trying to contribute to the future of Whistler for both the tourists and residents, young and old. We have enjoyed everything about our lives here and were very interested a couple of years ago when the idea of "sustainability" was introduced by the municipality. We attended as many public lectures and discussions as we were able and felt that the idea was interesting and very progressive, but when we tried to discuss it with other interested Whistlerites we found that we were all asking the same question: what does it really mean? Can we, in our little valley, become "sustainable" here on our own? What does this entail for us?

On Saturday, June 24 th, I attended the open house for the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan (CSP) put on by the Resort Municipality of Whistler at Spruce Grove. I found that members of the municipality including the mayor, councillors, Mike Vance, and very knowledgeable members of the Planning Department, etc. have been working hard organizing the results of all the public meetings that have been going on over the past years into a very detailed breakdown of the community activities and needs for a well-planned sustainable future for Whistler. Under those categories there was a breakdown into points of what the members of the community gave as feedback that they felt was needed to sustain and improve our enjoyment of being here for residents and visitors alike. I want to congratulate you all and your staff for compiling years of ideas and data collected from us all and getting them into a more easily understood format. It was very well done and I hope that over the three days of open houses that community members took advantage of understanding the many goals that have been proposed.

I especially was pleased to see that the needs of the senior residents of Whistler were mentioned several times in the documents on the Internet at the Web site for the CSP. I have been following closely the progress of MAC and hope that soon special plans will be successful to help senior’s hopes of "aging in place".

Another issue I would like to mention is the frequent discussion of transportation to become more green-friendly and in the use of the valley trails as alternatives to private cars. The use of human energy in walking, biking, etc. to get around our green valley was discussed as the alternate. I would like to express my concerns over the use of Segways (a motorized scooter of a fairly large dimension) on certain trails which seemed to me an inappropriate way of transportation where slower persons are moving. When suggestions are made that larger trails and more trails be constructed I am told that there is not enough room for them. Then why is the municipality even considering the use of these machines which, incidentally, are used for faster travel in city traffic? I have brought this subject up to several persons and in the meet-the-council Dialogue Cafés. It seemed that there was a general agreement that this was a bad idea. It does appear to not be in sync with Whistler being environmentally "green", and it could be dangerous. I hope that you will reconsider this activity as being more appropriate on the main roads. Maybe the public might let the local papers know where they stand on this subject….

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my feelings and for all your work towards the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. Now we have to make it work!

Eileen Tomalty


Canada Day – "Wow, here come the Canadian Police," I heard a group of visiting American tourists say. "Wow" was right. The RCMP presence consisted of a mounted horseman with lance, a dog in uniform, and a troop of spit and polished men and women whose serge glowed in the bright sun, Stetsons tilted, boots reflected and spurs sparkled. They were marching, no cars, SUVs or any of their other specialized vehicles that could blink, twinkle or scream. They just flat-footed it around town and they were "the talk of the town" resplendent in their scarlet tunics.

The highland pipers and drummers in their kilts marched and played their way around the parade loop in the hot sun. I viewed a considerate spectator give the lead piper a much-appreciated bottle of water during one of the pauses. There was the multi-numbered fast marching, smooth sounding school band from Vancouver Island hot-footing it around the entire parade route. The twirling folk dancers, tumbling young gymnasts, rolling ski clubers were all great examples of old time parading by today's youth, and there were many more commendable sustainable paraders in Thursday's parade.

Now here is the point of this little note: Mr. Mayor, hybrid or not, get out of that car and get the bike off its roof and ride the route. Gather your fellow council members around you and cycle the parade route. If you still feel the need to be driven in next year’s parade, I am sure that councillors Ken or Caroline would pull you around in one of those bike trailers. I am also sure that Whistler’s bike shops would loan your complete council some very unique, completely sustainable rides for next year's event.

Just imagine a parade featuring no purring Hummers, throbbing rescue vehicles or belching busses. They could become static displays gathered in one square for public viewing on the day and their members could march, walk, roll or pedal with some ingenuity or penage. "Look, here come the walking bus drivers."

Organizers, make next year's Whistler's Canada Day parade a model sustainable parade. Take a walk in the Mounties’ boots – they could have driven but they rode and marched, a shining example of sustainable parading. Well done.

Start thinking now how your organization or business can match the Mounties’ model of responsible sustainable parading – just a thought, as I enjoyed everyone's efforts on a fine day.

Tom Thomson


From one motorcycle rider to all drivers:

Summer is once again upon us and we are besieged by all sorts of traffic, from motorhomes to motorcycles. These vehicles challenge the impatient driver who only wants to make his commute to work, or to home, as brief as possible. So we are left with roadways that can be dangerous at best, deadly at worst.

As a rider of one of these, perhaps, sometimes-unpredictable motorcycles, I wanted to educate the drivers out there who have never ridden a motorcycle and are unaware of some of the practices I employ.

Firstly, my motorcycle is capable of very rapid deceleration, without using its brakes, either by the sheer wind resistance, or merely by gearing down. An impatient driver, tailgating a vehicle, would have the brake lights of the car ahead to warn him of deceleration. Missing that flash of those brake lights may mean a fender bender for either car. Missing my motorcycle’s deceleration may mean an instant death for me.

I, as most riders, will commonly ride on the left side of a lane so that the driver ahead of me can see me in either his side or rear view mirror. Riding in this position also dissuades drivers from using part of my lane to pass me, or an oncoming driver. You may also see me move to the right side the lane when a large oncoming vehicle passes, so that I may avoid the strong buffeting winds.

Buffeting and turbulence are something I would never think of when in a car, but are more of a concern to me on my motorcycle. This is why I may drop back quite a ways when I am following a larger vehicle on the highway. Unfortunately this seems to invite many drivers to pass me so that they may occupy that space ahead. This turbulence is also why I may chose to pass you, the driver, to get in front, even if I only wish to travel the speed limit. This is not a challenge to the driver I have just passed to go faster, or an attempt to aggravate the driver by staying to speed limit once I am in front of him.

I will also sometimes flash my high beam when I am approaching an intersection if I see someone is waiting to turn left across my lane. Again, this is not to antagonize the driver, more just to ensure he has seen me. I would only employ this during the day though, so as not to blind anyone at night.

I am by no means attempting to say that every motorcycle rider, including myself, is a saint and never would contravene the rules of the road. I have seen a few, doing things that I believed might have put their lives in jeopardy by no one’s fault but their own. I just hope that the next time you see me on the road, you will understand better why I do the things I do, and will afford me the same courtesy as you would any another vehicle.

Robert Staal


Political terrorism vs. B.C. wildfires

What ever happened to Education and Awareness in this great province? Last year our backcountry in the lower half of B.C. was closed entirely for part of the summer due to what we are told was an extreme fire hazard. This was obviously a rushed decision with little higher power, intelligent planning. If global warming and ultimately wildfires are a potential threat to whatever it is they threaten, (is it homes, people, animal habitat, logging company profits, politicians pockets, American trade agreements or lack of?) something should have been done. Whatever wildfires threaten, and whatever causes them, should have been taught to the people of this province and visitors to this province in the form of television advertising, brochures, Internet, etc. Of course we all know most of this, however, with education and awareness, our government would have been better able to entrust its people and guests to B.C. after their first mistakes. Instead, no propaganda or worse, no education or awareness was presented by those up above making what we hope and wish, are the right choices. The forests were simply shut off.

Now we have had one full year since the last multi-avenue disaster and what has been done differently for the people and businesses who use these roads, forests, trails, cliffs, rivers, mountains and campgrounds in the backcountry?

Nothing as I see it. If you talk to anyone about this, I am sure the entire province of B.C. sees another closing before we even face it head on. Sad, so sad! No Education, no awareness, no planning, no alternatives, no responsibility – just close the forests when it comes to prime time for tourism and recreation. Is there something deeper here than simply forest fires, or is it just me?

Automobile accidents occur daily. What if B.C. decided to ban automobiles so nothing could potentially happen?


Roads eventually receive cracks and potholes. What if B.C. decided to ban driving on paved roads in the wet season to reduce the damage to paved roads?


Elderly folk and children often become victims at crosswalks as they are slower moving or drivers do not see them. What if B.C. decided to ban the elderly and children from using crosswalks?


Politicians receive larger expense accounts than they really need to function efficiently. What if B.C. decided to give them the same expense accounts as every other travelling person?

Stupid, but almost necessary and valid.

Anyways, what is going on here?

Maybe the government is having trouble figuring out what to do and they need simple, educated, younger, realistic, straight-sighted minds to assist them in bringing awareness and education to the people, instead of lost hopes and fear as seems to be the trend.

Snap out of it!

Ask for assistance when you need it!

Daniel J. Poisson


Although I must admit, after two years plus living here, that I was not totally shocked, but I was at the very least disappointed and puzzled by the announcement of the 11 athletes awarded a plaque in the World Cup Plaza. These plaques are a great idea and will help young and old identify with Whistlers sport icons – but you missed athlete number 12!

This individual has been a mainstay of the community longer than some of the snowboard awardees. He has podiumed on many occasions at World Cups, represented Canada at many Paralympic Games, and was one of the few ever to be allowed to demonstrate his sport, at the Calgary Olympics. This last feat has never been duplicated again, due to the ignorance of the IOC, but this man did it back in 1988 and many ski racers that came after him know what it did to elevate the sport. (For some it means even more that Paralympic gold, it’s INTEGRATION!)

This man has also motivated tons of local kids to ski and ski race, was one of the driving forces behind excellence – not participation – for Canadian athletes in disabled skiing, and was a main factor in my motivation to be the first disabled skier to be carded by Sport Canada.

The man is a living local, national, and international legend! His name is Phil Chew, and he more than deserves the same recognition as those other 11 athletes.

I was told Whistler was going to do it "different", it was going to be about equality, integration and respect for all athletes in 2010.

Whistler, your lip service to the Paralympic Movement, and the Disabled Movement in general is shining through once again!

Congrats Whistler, you blew it again!

Where was athlete number 12?

Where was Phil Chew?

Stacy Kohut


Thanks to all who contributed to make the "best ever" Canada Day! Close to 50 entries came out and added atmosphere, colour and inspiration to the parade. Congratulations to the Whistler Garden Group with Isobel and Don MacLaurin for the Best Community Entry and Buffalo Bill’s for winning the Best Commercial Entry. Enjoy taking your closest friends or staff members out for a picnic on the Whistler Chamber!

Thanks also to parade leaders: Steve Podborski, Joan Richoz, Abigail Winter-Culliford, Melanie & Lynette, and to the big delegation from the RCMP, the French community and the Filipino-Canadian Society. Many thanks to Mayor O’Reilly and Whistler-Blackcomb who "walked the talk" in hybrid cars; to Tourism Whistler who bring the most popular sustainable transport every year; Corporal Dave Smith with his horse Justice and dog Moosejaw; to Whistler Taekwondo kids distributing 500 acacia trees symbolizing friendship between the French and English Canadians; to the Kelty Dennehy Foundation sponsoring the Black Tusk Pipe Band from Squamish.

We would also like to acknowledge our sponsors, particularly Sharp’s Audio Visual who kept the celebration at Town Square and MC Scott Roberts amplified. Thanks to Pique Newsmagazine for promoting, Rotary for judging, Linda Marshall for her Canada Day passion and the RCMP and Bylaws for their great collaboration on the event!

Did you miss the fireworks? We all did, as they were cancelled due to fire hazard. Though we want to express our thanks to the Resort Municipality and Whistler Cable who were there for all of us as joint sponsors for the event. Keep that Canada pride flowing to 2010!

Mechthild (Mecki) Facundo

For Whistler Chamber of Commerce

We need your help in reporting "undesirable" bear behaviour to the Police or Conservation Officer Service. Officers are all fully trained in non-lethal bear management and carry non-lethal deterrents, like rubber bullets and noise deterrents. Every attempt will be made to mitigate the situation without resorting to lethal means. We must trust in the system. If we don’t, we’re going to end up with an ever increasing number of human-bear conflicts.

So what is "undesirable" bear behaviour you ask? As defined by the Whistler Bear Working Group, "undesirable" behaviour is: being present in high use and active human areas; not leaving an area when encountering humans at close distances; actively searching for or eating food when humans are present; damaging property to obtain food; approaching humans to obtain food; behaving assertively toward people; entering a human residence, commercial buildings, outbuilding or vehicle; or attacks on humans, pets, or livestock (where good animal husbandry is practised).

To report a human-bear conflict or garbage/attractant management problem, call 604-905-BEAR(2327). This hotline will provide you with a number of options and will allow you to connect directly with the RCMP, Conservation Officer Service, RMOW Bylaw Services or the Whistler Bear Society. You can even get information faxed to you immediately.

Why is it so important to report human-bear conflict situations? Unless undesirable bear behaviour is dealt with promptly and effectively, this type of behaviour usually continues to escalate, with bears becoming bolder and bolder. Unfortunately, it seems that bears receive positive food rewards far more often than negative conditioning and so they don’t really learn that there are boundaries they should not cross. We need to work together to teach bears that undesirable behaviour won’t be tolerated. People and bears can coexist in harmony, but it won’t happen without everyone’s co-operation.

It’s also important to report undesirable people behaviour. We must be vigilant and ensure our neighbours and friends are bear smart too. Any incidents involving improper garbage disposal or other backyard attractants, like birdfeeders, should be reported to Bylaw Services immediately.

For more information on living and recreating in bear country visit or pick up a brochure at Municipal Hall.

Sylvia Dolson

Executive Director,

Whistler Bear Society

Canadian Bear Alliance

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