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Letters to the Editor

Whistler Blackcomb responds, Eva Lake is sinking, capitalist scum and Scrabble

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Some points clarified

Re: The danger of slides and reporting (Pique Newsmagazine letters, Jan. 26, 2005)

I would like to clarify points raised in Robert Moysychyn’s letter printed in last week’s Pique. Throughout the course of the investigation of the Jan. 14 avalanche in West Bowl, the rating of the slide by Whistler Blackcomb’s avalanche forecasters did indeed increase from the original estimate of class 1 to the rating of 1.5 that was submitted to the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). The CAA actually reported the slide as a class 2 based on public reports and prior to receiving the official report from Whistler Blackcomb. They have since expressed concern over any difficulties this may have caused us.

There was no attempt by Whistler Blackcomb Safety Staff or Patrol to downplay the severity of the slide. With 25+ years of experience, our professional avalanche forecasters are well-trained in avalanche study. Their rating of 1.5 submitted to the CAA was based solely on the facts of the investigation. We stand behind this rating.

The majority of debris that Mr. Moysychyn makes reference to was the result of avalanche control work conducted prior to the Peak Chair opening. The debris that resulted from the slide in question disbursed over a wide area and so was not deep enough to bury anyone.

There is no question that this was a dangerous slide. Even a small slide in steep alpine terrain can be dangerous and terrifying. In this case a Whistler woman was seriously hurt. We take every single accident on the mountain very seriously. This particular incident was investigated at length and witness information has been gathered and verified. All parties involved learned from this incident and we are thankful that our injured guest will recover.

Brian Leighton

Whistler Blackcomb Safety Manager

Accountability at issue

Re: Eva Lake employee housing

It is about time the Eva Lake Employee Housing fiasco came into the public eye…again. (Mike Roger letter, Jan. 26, 2006)

You do know that the people involved in building the sinking Eva Lake Employee Housing units are none other than the now Whistler Rainbow Properties Ltd. who are developing the Rainbow Land (and expect the municipality and WHA to guarantee their profits) when they do not face responsibility for a past development where buildings are sinking. It is difficult to "blame" any one party for the actual sinking of the buildings. So, instead, people have to be accountable and take responsibility. These people are: Rod Nadeau, Builder; Ann Chiasson, Silent Partner; Jon Paine, Engineer; the RMOW, Landlord; and Whistler Housing Authority, the overseers of employee housing. They can all be accountable and responsible.

You people at Eva Lake have a responsibility too. Speak up more often and more loudly. Go face to face with everybody involved, from councillor, to builder, to developer, to engineer, to anyone who will start the ball rolling to make things right. Embarrass them, if need be, to get help. Remember: These people have been getting rich off the opportunities that Whistler has to offer for a very long time. They made money off the residents of Eva Lake who have now become unfortunate victims. And, they continue to make money... and for some… lots of money… while the poor employees struggle.

Personally, I do not want to see the Rainbow Lands final approval for development until the Eva Lake issue had been resolved. Thank you and good luck.

Marilyn Kapchinsky

Whistler

Global lessons for Whistler

While interviewed by World Chronicle (a program by the United Nations) Jamal Saghir, World Bank’s Director of the Energy and Water Department stated: "… we all came to the conclusion (that) at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who delivers the service – as long as you can deliver efficient, affordable, quality, low cost service…" Earlier though, he declared: "What we have seen during history, even from earlier days – is that those countries, those civilizations that were able to build infrastructure, were able to manage these infrastructures, were able to put some drainage system in, were able to create growth, and relative prosperity followed."

Though a basic human right, the delivery and treatment of water and wastewater must be cost-efficient. In developing societies, "importing" suppliers is sensible, so locals are trained – and eventually these communities can self-manage their plants. However, in Whistler, I doubt that suitable professionals can’t be found to work with the municipality. Consultants can be hired to improve efficiency. It beats partnering with a private (and perhaps international) corporation.

Veolia Water, Kinder-Morgan and Epcor Utilities (three of the corporations short-listed) are publicly traded companies. Rather than guaranteeing our well-being, their shareholders’ satisfaction will be their top priority.

RMOW, please keep public the management of our wastewater treatment plant. The transcript of the U.N. World Chronicle interview is available in the Sustainability News section of SustainableReview.com.

Guacira Naves-Coote

Editor, SustainableReview.com

Whistler

Should we withhold zoning?

I liked G.D. Maxwell’s image of Whistler and the Olympics as a dog chasing a bus and once catching it not knowing what to do with it. This image has stuck with me every time I think about our Olympic legacies. It was my understanding that we would participate in the bid process providing our original guiding principles were adhered to, and we were going to secure significant legacies if the bid was successful. We now have modified guiding principles and a multi-party agreement that spells out what the legacies might or might not be. Left out completely are financial tools and boundary expansion. The proposed Paralympics arena is anywhere between $15 and $35 million short on funding, the athletes village is $20 million short for servicing costs alone.

Michael Smyth of the Province quoted Kevin Wamsley, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies, saying of the 2010 Olympics: "Don’t be surprised if there’s a total debt in excess of a billion dollars."

Smyth wrote: "And when it comes to the 2010 Winter Olympics, we’re talking a tonne of money to cover an Olympic-sized shortfall. Vancouver Olympics boss John Furlong dropped more gloomy hints this week about how deep the sinkhole goes in his blown budget. He confirmed the Vancouver Organizing Committee will be hitting up the Harper government for more cash…"

Quoting Alison Taylor’s story in the Jan. 26 issue of Pique: "Monday evening, in response to a request from a community member for an update on the Olympic negotiations, Melamed said Whistler’s requests for financial tools, boundary expansion and a land bank rest in the province’s hands.

"The municipality considers all three issues ‘legacies’ it negotiated with the province in return for supporting the 2010 Olympic bid.

"The 300-acre land bank, which involves Crown land being transferred to the RMOW for ‘affordable’ employee housing, is sitting with the province. Municipal staff has signed off on the lands, which include roughly 150 acres at Cheakamus South, the lands above the proposed Rainbow development, a bench on the road up to Kadenwood and a chunk of land at the Callaghan that may also be sought by First Nations or VANOC.

"Our submission is complete," Melamed told the audience. "It rests with the province."

"The RMOW’s boundary expansion, which includes large tracts of land on all sides of the municipality, was submitted to the province more than a year ago. It is not clear if and when that will be approved.

"It sits in an office in Victoria," said Melamed.

"And the financial tools are still part of ongoing negotiations."

I here-in respectfully ask the following questions to our new mayor and council:

• Why did we modify our original guiding principles and legacies?

• Why are financial tools and boundary expansion not part of the multi-party agreement if they were considered legacies at the time of the bid?

• Why is there any talk of a referendum to borrow money to pay for the Paralympics arena? Should it not be a paid for as a legacy with the operation costs funded?

• Should we withhold land zoning for Olympic venues until we have our legacies sorted out and see what additional funds the federal and provincial governments might be adding to the Olympic pot?

• What other measures might council take to insure the significant legacies are delivered and that Whistler is not debt burdened as promised in the original guiding principles?

I realize that some council members might question this harder line of thinking and the timing of it. I ask if not now when is it time to draw the line?

Stuart Munro

Whistler

Oops

Oh how nice it would be to have had the foresight to accept the invitation to host the World Economic Forum every second January.

Unfortunately, the people in power at the time and many others in the community thought it was beneath Whistler to have such a meeting here. The arguments ranged from "They will take away skier hotel rooms during a very busy time" to "We don't need the capitalist scum here."

Well I bet that those same people would welcome the 1,000 international business leaders, heads of state and movie stars with open arms this week. Not to mention the international media that follow the show.

The television footage on BBC World could have showed Whistler in blue sky and sunshine with fresh powder, instead of Davos, Switzerland.

Whistler thought it was just too good and far too busy to accept the invitation. We had better not make the same kind of stupid mistake again. Pride and ego just won't pay the bills the same way a good business deal will, and collectively Whistler has a lot of bills to pay right now, and lots of empty hotel rooms.

Don Goodall

Whistler

Where will it end?

Since I haven't skied at Whistler for some time I was looking forward to a day on the slopes with my six-year-old son a week ago Saturday. Knowing that the mountain promoted a safe environment and that mountain safety personnel would be out and about, I felt a degree of confidence in taking my young son with me.

I've never been more wrong! Every run we chose, we were threatened by young boarders who seemed to think they owned the mountain. Slow zones, forget it. They could care less. Try Pony Trail, where a group of skiers froze as seven boarders peeled off Orange Peel, through a rope fence at an incredible speed, not once looking uphill to check for other skiers as they took hits up to the Tree Fort. Bear Cub, I felt, must be better, if for no other reason than its name. Don't try it, you risk someone landing on your head as the hits and jumps became higher and higher.

I don't believe skiing has to be like this. The mountain has to take control. Bob Dufour's solution of "Respect" (Pique Newsmagazine Jan. 19, 2006) certainly isn't going to cut it! What will it take for those in charge to notice - a child's death?

Incidentally, no where did I see a mountain safety person. Olympic Run at 2 p.m. was a nightmare. Where will it end?

T. Powers

Vancouver

How can the community help save Gay Ski Week?

Over the last six days an amazing team of individuals have come together to rescue the Gay Ski Week that has traditionally been one of the largest private events in Whistler, bringing millions of dollars into the community. This dedicated team (GayWhistler.com/GayWhistler Ski Week) has been working on promoting Whistler to the gay community to increase tourism for the past two years.

Without the amazing support of the local businesses, the RMOW and community participation this event would have been cancelled this year and probably for years to come.

We are going to be hosting guests from around the world and we look forward to showcasing Whistler so that these visitors come back in the summer, autumn and spring.

Everyone in the community is asking what they can do to help? My answer is you can help in a couple of meaningful ways:

1. Come to our community concert and show your support. A portion of proceeds will go to Whistler Search and Rescue. Show your support for this event and this great Whistler organization. TELUS Conference Centre, Thursday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets $39 at GayWhistler.com or Tourism Whistler Activity Centre.

2. Local businesses can show their support by putting a gay flag in their windows for this event of the year. Flags can be printed off our site as a PDF in our About US, Press Section.

3. Just smile and welcome our guests to Whistler, come and enjoy our events they are open to everyone.

I want to personally thank everyone who has been so supportive and helpful! We all should be proud.

Sean Kearns

Founder GayWhistler.com

Squamish’s title on the line

The Government of B.C. wants to log the forest surrounding the Powerhouse Plunge, one of the signature trails of the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada and of the Squamish Test of Metal, one of the most popular mountain bike races in the world. Many members of the Squamish community, including the mayor, some councillors and the broad-based Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association, adamantly oppose the plan to log the area, which includes the construction of a logging road across the trail. Ironically, it was the provincial government back in the mid-1990s that approved the construction of the Plunge and even paid for a portion of the construction of the trail.

Squamish is known throughout the world as one of the best places anywhere for mountain biking. The economic transition of Squamish from a previously natural-resource extraction-based economy to more of a tourism-based economy has been difficult enough for many. The short-term monetary profit, likely for a company not even from the Squamish area, of logging this proposed, relatively small cut block is overshadowed by the long-term economic benefit for the province and for Squamish, which has the opportunity to show the world that Squamish is indeed the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada and that it does not squander its natural assets.

Ron Enns

Squamish, B.C.

Answering the call

There is no better place.

I may not write this well, but I’m not going to spend seven years trying, so here goes.

To the principal, Mr Albertin, the amazing teachers, the devoted staff, the awesome students and the supportive parents – to Starbucks, and to Amy Cassidy at Myrtle Philip Elementary School – and in all fairness, to Stella Harvey and the Whistler Writers Group, thank you.

Thank you for being a part of making my author reading on Family Literacy Day such a fantastic event. Thank you for your positive feedback, your kind words and your enthusiasm. I am seriously stoked! Your involvement booted me right out of my comfy couch, made me take a risk and in the end allowed me to enjoy a great victory. Just for a day and because of you, I saw the hero who had been there all along.

Anyone who questions the depth and integrity of this community cannot possibly be living in the same town I am. This place rules, and it is YOU who make that so.

Thank you, my friends, my town, my community, for setting the bar so high, for forcing me to compete on your level, for supporting me, and always inspiring me.

Sheree Blanch

Whistler

Honesty saves grief

I would like to thank the kind and honest employees (Ellie, Dave, and Shawn) at Alpine Cafe on Mckeever’s for finding my wallet in the store and keeping it safe overnight.

I did not realize I had left it there until the next morning, when I was looking around the house for it in a (needless to say) panicked state.

Thank you once again for saving me untold headaches and financial ruin if it had fallen into the wrong hands. Honesty prevails and angels are among us!

Angela Prettie

Whistler

Telus Winter Classic a great success!

I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the volunteers and staff who supported the Telus Winter Classic for the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.  It takes over 150 volunteers to put on this incredible weekend event!

We continue to receive tremendous support from our corporate partners with Telus leading the way – thank you. Our local support was again tremendous this year; it was great to see many of you having such great time at the Vegas Gala.

The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation is the largest single community fund raising organization and we give back over $450,000 each year to community endeavors throughout the Sea to Sky corridor. The support we receive truly makes a difference in our communities.

I would like give a HUGE thank you to Mei McCurdy, our Executive Director, for her dedication, energy, and commitment.  Her smile and happy disposition is infectious and we are very fortunate to have her leading our team!

Dave Brownlie

Chief Operating Officer

Whistler Blackcomb

Reading works

On behalf of the students and staff of Spring Creek and École La Passerelle, the Primary teachers would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of the exceptional readers and storytellers who generously donated their talent and time to our Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27th. The students and families enjoyed the wonderful presentations of Chikako Akama, Evan Brynn-Jones, Cheryl Dolan, Devon Jones, Alix Nichol, Margot Murdoch, Tim Regan, Peter Shrimpton, Michel Tardif, Dave Walden, and Tim Wake. The day was a huge success, thanks to your support. You demonstrated a love of stories and reading, and showed us that we live in a community truly committed to literacy!

On behalf of the intermediate staff and students of Spring Creek the Intermediate teachers would like to express our sincere thanks to the five local authors who generously shared their writing experiences with us on literacy day. Both students and staff were fascinated to learn about the many different styles of writing and to meet live local authors. Thank you to Pina Belperio, Lisa Richardson, Rebecca Wood, Pam Barnsley and Kim Thompson for making our day a success.

Lisa Kallio for

The Primary and Intermediate teachers

Spring Creek Community School

Scrabble winners all

There are some closet Scrabble enthusiasts in Whistler, and 21 of them turned out for the second annual Scrabble Tournament held at the library on Jan. 25th. Most players managed to get in three games, and a good time was had by all.

The top score was 464, played by Lisa Taylor. Thanks go out to Farfalla Hair and Esthetics for donating a manicure for her first prize.

Tied for second place, with scores around 400 were Katharine Shepherd and Bobbi Tizzard, winners of library book bags. Chocolates donated by Roger's Chocolates were awarded to Judy Fletcher, for the highest score using a regular (not Scrabble) dictionary, and as a draw prize to Sean Fairfield.

The youngest player, Max Edwards, age 11, was awarded a Scrabble Dictionary.

Thanks to all the players and volunteers who came and made this event so enjoyable and successful!

Jane Reid for

The Friends of the Whistler Public Library

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