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This week's letters

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I recall one day sitting atop Whistler Mountain near the Khyber hut remarking to my friend, "Can you imagine a 737 roaring through this valley on its way to Pemberton?"

At the time, it seemed a crazy thought with little substance. Now with the proposal in debate it might not be such a far fetched idea at all. As time rolls along, crazy dreams or ideas start to make sense... very little in some cases, but still a little.

That same day we also discussed the image of a 20 or 30 storey high-rise tower jutting out from Function Junction. We imagined the project would be called Residential Resort Tower. A 20-storey building filled with commercial space on the bottom floor, a laundry mat on the second, maybe underground parking and 40 to 50 two- or three-bedroom units with views of Sproatt and West Bowl.

The need for such a tower seemed obvious to us at the time. Now with over 400 people on the WHA waitlist it seems evident that such a need exists. Do I think it is a good idea? Well, it does have its pros and cons. I do however, believe that the housing situation in Whistler needs a radical solution through some radical thinking. I don't like hearing about how my friend or neighbour is leaving town because they can't afford to own here. How these workers and enthusiasts moved here to ski and now are being forced out because they only make $40,000 a year. Many of these people who leave town end up living a miserable existence in a high-rise in the city anyhow (miserable because they live in the city not because they live in a high-rise).

My friend who I sat with up atop Whistler now lives in a one-bedroom in Squamish that has no balcony. If you asked him, "would you be willing to live in a high-rise if it meant you could stay in Whistler?" the answer would be a resounding yes. If you asked the skier who passed us that day if she would mind if my friend lived in a high-rise down there beside that stream in Function; her answer would likely be "yes" also.

Too bad you can't please everyone at the same time. Maybe the company that has the 737 proposal can whip up a high-rise proposal while they are at it.

Jon Decaigny

Whistler

 

Re: Nick Davies’s re zoning application

Only a lawyer could come up with something and use words to present it in such a manner that it would appear that his re zoning application is to give us – the community – a wonderful opportunity.

However, looking at it without all the spin, what my take on what Mr. Davies is in fact saying is.

• That his house needs renovating as it is so old, but he can’t afford to do it.

• That he could of course tear it down, build a huge house in partnership with a builder and sell it for a fortune. However he would rather do something beneficial to help with affordable housing. I don’t suppose this decision has anything to do with the fact that no one in this financial climate would, unless of course they had lots of money and could afford to wait, want to build a high-end spec house. The inventory of these type of houses is already way over what the current market can stand and if you take Pat Kelly’s remarks that Park City wish they had not built so many high-end homes, this market is unlikely to improve in the near future. I am sure it will with time and once the present inventory has decreased.

• Instead he would like to divide his lot in to two building lots, one as a market lot, which will give him enough money to build a very nice house.

• The second lot would be an affordable lot – lots meant to help make it more affordable to local residents who cannot afford market prices and thereby keep them here — at least that was what I thought.

• The problem I find is, the affordable lot is to have no re-sale price restriction on it. So where is the advantage for local residents looking to buy affordable housing? With no re-sale price restriction once sold it will never be affordable again for local residents.

• The only advantage, as I see it, is for Mr. Davies, who gets a brand new house with the money to build it through selling what is effectively a market lot.

I think it is a wonderful Idea for all of us who already own homes to make even more money, but it does not in any way make Whistler more affordable for those who want to live and work and be able to purchase a home.

Susie Goodall

Whistler

 

The Flute Mountain expansion by Intrawest has saddened nature lovers. One of the most spectacular ridge walks on the planet has been defaced and bisected by a boundary fence.

It is disturbing to watch Intrawest act as they are and not value the amazing natural wonder they had with the Musical Bumps area. Not to mention how they ignore what part Flute plays in the lives of locals and international visitors. Access to Garibaldi Park and the natural experience from Whistler is becoming more and more difficult do to the great distances that must be traveled now.

On Sunday, Sept. 12 Carol Legate and I stood at the summit of Flute as we watched hikers’ (22 in 1 hour) reaction to the work going on.

The three hikers in the image are senior females from Vancouver. Their average age is 77 years. The 80-year-old hiker said this about the Flute expansion: "I'm glad I lived when I did."

John Nemy

Whistler

 

A very belated thank you to Stuart Rempel and Whistler-Blackcomb for their very thoughtful and greatly appreciated pricing of the Sea to Sky Student Ski Pass. This definitely will make a big difference to the number of local kids on the mountains this season. It means they can go up for a few hours after a hockey game or before they start their part-time job and parents won't be shelling out the cost of a full day pass.

For dual working parents it is a nice perk and we certainly don't see many price breaks in this community.

Whistler elementary school kids have always enjoyed six full days of skiing or boarding lessons and that has also been a bonus for local families that the high school kids miss out on, so thanks again for this early Christmas present!

Kathy & Don Macalister

Whistler

 

Re: Marijuana candidate brings home cannabis café debate, (Pique Sept. 17, 2004)

Self-proclaimed marijuana "expert" RCMP Staff Sergeant Norm McPhail offers the usual official spin to defend marijuana prohibition: marijuana might or could be as harmful as alcohol, therefore marijuana should remain prohibited. This kind of drunken logic is what the Supreme Court of Canada presents, as legal scholarship, to defend marijuana laws against Charter of Rights challenges.

Obviously, marijuana laws do not protect the public's order, health, or safety, but rather placate the Americans’ zeal for their failed drug war strategies. This continued subordination of Canadian rights and freedoms in the interest of foreign relations is unconstitutional and demands the invocation of the Not-withstanding Clause contained in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only real solution though, is total legalization, but I won't hold my toke waiting for it to happen.

Peter Yunge-Bateman

North Vancouver

 

Re: For the love of Dog (Pique, Sept. 17)

As a dog trainer and behaviourist, who works with many so-called "difficult" dogs in the Sea to Sky corridor, I have been reluctant to wade into the debate about the banning of certain breeds. These emotional, contentious and circular discussions have been taking place in most western countries on the exact same issue for decades – with no definitive answers or results.

In his column, Andrew Mitchell touched on a number of very valid points and I would like to add a few for the record.

• Dogs are born with a pre-determined personality and this then translates to its position in the pack. While certain breeds have certain character traits, it’s the individual personality that makes all the difference. I have treated as many, if not more, aggressive labs & golden retrievers as pit bull/rottweiler types. (Not to mention the little nippers!)

• Most dogs aren’t born aggressive. They become aggressive for a variety of reasons. Incorrect or inappropriate ownership is very common, as is trauma during a dog’s formative years.

• Most owners don’t really know what their dog is likely to do, or indeed is capable of. Most owners are shocked and distressed when their dog finally bites, yet a thorough history usually reveals a buildup of doggy warnings and threats that have not been recognized as such by their human-thinking owners.

• While some dogs are encouraged to be aggressive through conditioning from owners who thrive on the tough-guy image, many other dogs resort to aggression as their only form of defence, because they view their owners as "soft" or "weak". These dogs feel very vulnerable and are putting on their biggest show of aggression because, well someone has to take charge here and ward off all those scary threats!

• Aggressive dogs should be muzzled when in the public domain. This is obviously a preventative measure, not a solution to the problem but at least it sends a message to people to keep their distance and be watchful of the dog.

I could go on for ages but the bottom line is, learn to read, understand and communicate with your dog. This takes commitment and work. Not for the months of cute puppyhood – for the whole of your dog’s life!

Research breeds and personalities before you choose a dog or puppy. Don’t get a dog because it will suit, add to or create an image for you.

Any breeder or shelter with a thorough screening process is the best place to pick up a dog.

I do a range of volunteer work with WAG, working specifically with their stressed shelter dogs and I know for sure that WAG has a very comprehensive screening process for adoptions – this is for the sake of the dog first, and the owner second! While WAG has all manner of dogs with all types of personalities, we do work with them on an individual basis and recommend any follow-up training that may be necessary.

Sandy Yates

Squamish

 

Record Terry Fox Run

On behalf of the Terry Fox Foundation and cancer patients and their families, we would like to extend a heart felt thanks to the Whistler community for making the 2004 Whistler Terry Fox Run such a huge success. We raised a record breaking $11,127 and close to 300 people came out to honour Terry and his dream. No question the glorious sunshine played in our favour!

Most importantly, the day was filled with laughter, a true celebration of life and all that Terry stood for. We had the chance to stand still for just one moment on Sunday, to look around and to absorb the magical atmosphere. It was filled with so much hope and happiness, Terry would have been incredibly proud.

The dedicated volunteers were out in full force on Sunday making sure that participants were registered, on the right path, well nourished, adequately massaged, decorated with face paints and generally in good spirits. A toast is in order to each and every one of these special volunteers.

The Riverside Resort and Café were incredible hosts as they have been for the last three years. The Hair Farmers rocked despite the very early hour. The fire department sweated through the whole 10 km in full uniform (and after attending not one but two weddings the nights before). And the Four Seasons Resort Whistler definitely brought the event up to a whole new level.

In addition to the above, we would also like to thank all of our other generous Whistler supporters.

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of Terry's Marathon of Hope. We look forward to an extra special celebration with Whistler in 2005 but until then, thanks for helping to make this a cancer free world.

Joanne and Bernd Petak

North Vancouver/Whistler

 

Over the past five months the community in the Upper Squamish Valley has been very vocal about opposition to the application by Ledcor to develop the Ashlu into a hydro project. The amount of support our small community has received from the rest of Squamish and beyond has been truly fabulous.

Ledcor Power Inc., the company who is trying to get the license, has in the past few weeks, according to one member of council, been "very nice" to all those members of local governments that have influence over the outcome of the project. For those who are unaware, the process of a multinational corporation being "very nice" involves throwing a lot of money around with things such as flying council members around in helicopters to see other so-called successful sites and creating flashy multimedia presentations. They even opened storefront campaign offices. Last week Squamish Councilor Raj Kahlon, in his Ledcor support speech, said he chose to believe Ledcor. We were certainly baffled by that speech. We have invested hundreds of hours in seeking facts and we have learned not to believe Ledcor.

Due to the District of Squamish’s unwillingness to listen to the Upper Squamish Valley Citizens, let alone their own planning department which cautioned against IPP development on the Ashlu, it is now time to get more voices involved. This letter is calling on British Columbians who care about their neighbours, their country and their environment, especially those in the Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton areas, to please add your voices and get involved. A river power project is like a limitless oil well. We are selling off a renewable asset forever, for virtually nothing. We have all heard how fortunate we are, as Canadians, because of our natural resources, which provide all of us with a sustainable future. Each development of an IPP takes from Canadians the right to access the water, the power and removes control forever of the local environment.

No matter what you are being told, at the end of the day if the project proceeds we as Canadians will have lost an irreplaceable asset of fresh, clean, clear water and a limitless power supply and will have to beg for a cup of water from NAFTA.

Surrounding this project are some very expensive consultants who are making sure the public is told whatever it needs to hear. IPPs and the Ashlu in particular are like big oil wells. The only difference between the Ashlu and an oil well is that a well runs dry. The only dry thing about the Ashlu will be the creek bed when NAFTA inevitably demands more power.

Along with many other understated facts the value of the Ashlu deal has been understated to avoid roadblocks. Ledcor says the project is worth $100 million. By the time the Ashlu drainage is fully developed the value will be more like $1 billion, which is not bad for a small public relations investment and a license application along with some helicopter rentals.

Ledcor, after insisting for months a license was just around the corner, still does not have a water or land use license in the Ashlu. They are telling anyone who will listen that approval is just around the corner. Ledcor says that there will be jobs for people during construction, but the one man who has been camped at the foot of the Ashlu wanting to apply for the caretakers job, the only job the project will produce, hasn’t heard a word.

As a community we have done a lot of reading. We read the Squamish Nation’s land use plans and we read the Squamish Nation maps which show the Ashlu as a Wild Spirit Place to be protected forever. The leadership in the Squamish Nation has recently been pushing hard for the Ashlu development as they say they will be participating in the economy in a private relationship with Ledcor.

The people in the Community of the Upper Squamish Valley care about the people of the Squamish Nation, as we are each other’s nearest neighbours. We need to create frameworks, which are sustainable and which work for all of us. We rely on what we read and what we have come to know and we consider protecting the natural Ashlu our highest priority. We expect our First Nations neighbours to protect the Ashlu for their children too.

The opportunities for sustainable development are abundant in our area and with that in mind we do not want the Ashlu bargained away by the provincial government or the water polluted or the air made hotter and drier, and we certainly do not want to have to beg NAFTA for some electricity or a cup of muddy water in the future.

The people of the Upper Squamish Valley are opposed to the IPP on Ashlu because we have educated ourselves. We believe that anyone given the facts would agree, unless they are motivated by money. Part of the deal with one of Ledcor’s partners involves doing something with the incredible amount of rock that would be removed from the mountains. In another classic Ledcor move they propose that instead of trucking all of the rock through our community they will stockpile it north of us and give it away for free. That’s right, free gravel just north of our quiet community, on a dead end road! This most recent change suggested by Ledcor would create utter chaos, like an open honey jar in a room full of bears, not to mention the disturbance of stockpiled rocks to the non-metaphorical bears and other wildlife living just north of us.

Multinational companies like Ledcor have rushed to our area and are lined up to capture our resources while making one sector in Squamish attack another like puppets in an afternoon matinee. The time for the more environmentally concerned B.C. community to be heard by their government is now. For more accurate information or just to learn how to get involved please feel free to contact the Upper Squamish Valley Citizens Group at 604- 898-2064.

Tom Rankin

Upper Squamish Valley Citizens Group