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Letters to the Editor

Squamish estuary angst, Aware opposing Callaghan trails, Defending
First Nations X2, Kudos to Luna, protecting 'shrooms, bikers
slow down please, looking beyond our bubble,

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Inadequate responses all around

Re: Squamish estuary recovery in question (Pique, March 29)

I sent a letter to federal, provincial, and Squamish municipal officials, as well as to representatives of the Squamish Nation, last August. I had supportive replies from some Squamish Nation members, and a polite reply from a B.C. government official indicating that, unfortunately, the matter was under federal jurisdiction. I had no replies from federal representatives. In that letter, I outlined the penalties in law for polluters such as Gearbulk; I urged that the law be enforced to the maximum so as to send a clear message that those who defile Canada are not welcome here.

I now read that:

1) Continued cleanup efforts have been lacking;

2) A representative for Gearbulk Canada was "surprised" to learn there is still garbage (from the cleanup effort) at the site;

3) A provincial government representative admitted the province's response to the accident was inadequate;

4) Transport Canada did not lay charges against the ship owners;

5) The estuary remains highly contaminated;

6) Dredging the estuary is being suggested as an alternative cleanup measure by company officials. A U.S.-based engineering company that worked on the Exxon Valdez spill labelled this a "kill it to save it" approach.

This is not good news, is it?

Worse, this is only one of many environmental disasters to befall the region in recent years. In no case that I am aware of has there been an attempt at prosecution of the guilty parties. I am becoming profoundly pessimistic about the will and the ability of the various levels of government to deal with these sorts of situations. It appears that those we have elected to protect our land are either inattentive, or weak, or duplicitous, or are fools. It is unfortunate that we, the people of B.C., are in the position of having to pay for this sort of hired help; it seems our money is wasted.

It also appears we are distracted if the criminal is wearing a suit. Can't send the Suit to jail, can we? I mean, it's just not proper.

I was there at the Squamish Spit that Friday last August, and watched the whole sad thing unfold. I saw the ship pushed back onto old pilings; saw the oil slick, blown by 20-knot winds, make its way to land. I noticed no emergency response, other than to clear the water of people. Three tugs danced uselessly around the punctured vessel, apparently without plan or direction.

My business is emergencies, human ones. Most of what lay people consider a medical emergency is in fact something less; an urgency, at most. True emergencies are when the clock of doom is counting in minutes, when the patient's custodians must act within minutes, to stave off disaster.

I bet you three tugs and six boom sticks, deployed within the first minutes of that spill, would have contained it.

That's another Rule of Emergencies: plan ahead. Would you rather that doc taking care of your dying mother was a hero, doing the best he could even though he wasn't exactly sure what to do next, or a trained professional, doing what he had practised many times before?

And another rule: Prevention works faster, slicker, and better than Cure. Where was the B.C. pilot during all this? Sleeping? On the tug? Over at the Chieftain Hotel?

Sorry I missed that March 27 meeting; I was working in Emergency.... and sorry it was so poorly attended; seems folks are pretty busy working these days, what with all those taxes they have to pay.

One final thing: Do not dredge in the Squamish Estuary! There is a hundred years of industrial waste down there; one of the few things that saves Howe Sound is that some of that stuff is buried, silted over by the river. Stir it up, and we will have a far worse catastrophe on our hands.

Sean Crickmer, MD

Vancouver/Whistler

AWARE opposes additional trails

This letter was addressed to David Riddell of the provincial Environmental Assessment Office. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

RE: Opposition to amend the Whistler Nordic Centre environmental assessment certificate.

We, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), understand that the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) has applied to amend the Whistler Nordic Centre environmental assessment certificate (TD05-01) to allow for the construction of 20 + km of additional trails in the Callaghan Valley. AWARE would like to voice our firm opposition to the proposed amendment. We base this decision on the following rationale:

• VANOC’s own studies (in specific, the work carried out in 2007 by Clayton Apps) state that the presence of the legacy trails will result in additional negative impacts to the grizzly population that utilizes the Callaghan Valley.

• There is no business plan of which we are aware that requires additional trails in order to make the Nordic Centre financially viable.

• The B.C. Ministry of Environment has identified the Callaghan Valley as a grizzly recovery area and is working towards increasing the presence of this species in the area.

• VANOC reports that there will be approximately 40 ha of old-growth forest lost. This is in addition to the amount of forest lost during road construction and in the immediate footprint of the Whistler Nordic Centre.

AWARE believes that the impacts to the Callaghan Valley as a result of the construction of the legacy trails are too significant to allow this project to go forward. The negative impacts to grizzly bear (as well as other wildlife and habitat) in the Callaghan presented by the project conflicts with provincial efforts to recover the area. As a result, we fully oppose the construction of any additional features or additional disturbance at the Whistler Nordic Centre location.

(unsigned)

Board of Directors

Association of Whistler Area Residents of the Environment (AWARE)

So much more needs to happen

Re: Joe Bako’s letter, A familiar script (Pique March 29)

Suppose I were to move in beside you. You might not be too impressed but you might tolerate me. Then suppose that smallpox swept through your house. Given your weakened state I just might move into your place and lay claim to your belongings. I might also take the opportunity to send your children off to boarding school with Borat for “acculturation”. You might wonder — where is the justice in all this?

Now suppose that every time you try to raise your grievance — I ridicule you through the creation of my own self-satisfying fiction of events. In that scenario, do you think we might have a tough time getting along?

Reconciliation with First Nations requires talking clearly and honestly about what really happened, finding ways to address injustices past and present, and to explore different ways of sharing power. This is starting to happen on some fronts in Sea-to-Sky country — but there is so much more that needs to happen. I want to work for reconciliation. Do you?

Sheldon Tetreault

Pemberton

Hypocrisy abounds

Re: A familiar script by Joe Bako (Pique March 29)

In your letter you put “stolen land” in quotations. You probably should have put “conquest” in quotations also.

Why? Because these concepts are cultural constructions. They have different meanings and operating principles in different cultures. As a result, the perspective of historical events can be very different.

Nonetheless, what is important to understand is that colonizers to the “New World” brought with them the “rule of law”. The “rule of law” defined how colonizers should engage with other societies. It also defined “conquest”. In fact, the historical events in B.C. and Canada do not support the definition of “conquest” as defined in the colonizers legal tradition. There was no declaration of war by the Crown nor was there any surrender made by the First Nations. Therefore, by the colonizers’ own legal standards, there has been no conquest of Indian lands.

So, our society has the hypocrisy of going about its business without squarely dealing with the issue of land ownership. Now that is the kettle calling the pot black.

Harriet VanWart

Pemberton

Lucky to have LUNA

Whistler is a great place to visit and an even better place to live, but it remains a small town with limitations not shared by bigger places. At times it’s in danger of offering only a limited range of activities, especially for the few thousand seasonal workers that descend each year and allow the town to function and extract the tourist dollar. If you’re not hitting the hill or the après and nightlife scene then options can be few and far between.

Step forward and take a bow LUNA, which offers a number of events to interest and entertain when the stock standard ski and drink loses its luster. I myself regularly attend the drop-in sports at the high school and recently participated in LUNA’s Texas Hold ’Em comp. The volunteers who make these events possible deserve to be recognized and congratulated for improving the quality of life in Whistler for seasonals and locals alike.

A fantastic effort and keep up the good work!

Simon Ross

Whistler

Protect pine mushroom grounds

My name is Q'AWAM' (Ryan Peters). I serve as a volunteer member of the Land and Resource Committee in N'Quatqua.

Just recently, we were informed that B.C. Timber Sales had sold for logging, block A78636 (BL002) in Blackwater Region. This cut block is located 3-4 km up right along the Blackwater Creek Road and happens to be a prime pine-mushroom picking area popular to elders and other pickers because of easy access from the road.

I heard that pine-mushrooms take 60-80 years to regenerate in an undisturbed forest. If logging activity is to take place, I am very concerned about the impact on the ecosystem. This is St'at'imc Territory. That mushroom ground will never be the same again.

People have been opposing the proposed logging in Blackwater for many years. I know that people from other bands frequently enjoy coming to pick mushrooms in this area, too.

How does everyone feel about the future of this mushroom grounds? This pine mushroom picking area is so important to me because it is one of my sources of income and also I dry and put away mushrooms for the winter. I enjoy them with my meals. I have been using this traditional mushroom area for about 30 years and I want this area to be left just the way it is.

Also in this mushroom area, I pick swamp tea (labourdor tea), berries and other plants we use for medicine, for example devil's club.

It seems that our community was not properly informed or consulted about this recent sale. Is this how it is always going to be, that the people hear about it after the fact when it is too late?

There must be a better way to communicate with the government and the forestry people so that everyone can learn the facts and get more involved. We need to be provided with new maps that tell us what is going on, so that we feel more included in the decision-making process. I encourage other people to speak their concerns about these issues.

Q'AWAM'

N'Quatqua

Think of us as you drive by

Attention mountain bike shuttlers up to Mosquito Lake:

Spring has finally arrived and with it, the excitement of hitting the trails after a long winter. A lot of trucks are heading up the back road to access the trails around Mosquito Lake. Travelling up there is bumpy and slow due to the rough road conditions. Once you reach the end of the pothole-filled road it smoothes out and is much easier on your truck as well as your jiggling insides. The tendency with some drivers (and you know who you are) is to gun it down this part of the road at mach speed on the way to their chosen drop off point, and then repeat their time trial on the way back through to town. This causes a lot of frustration on our quiet road.

Please slow down and be considerate of our neighbourhood. Our animals and children play here and enjoy this usually quiet road for its safety as well as its beauty. Speeds of 60-100 km/h are unacceptable!

As summer arrives the road gets very dusty and at times there is no visibility, as well as a steady cloud of dust that engulfs our houses each time a vehicle flies by.

The next months are going to bring a lot more shuttlers and lake enthusiasts up our way so please drive safely and slowly, keep your eyes open for people and animals walking the road and enjoy your ride.

Victoria Downes

Pemberton

The world of possibilities

As we entered the new millennium, the modern world was marked by public expressions of uncertainty, insecurity and yearning for change. People no longer have confidence in the face of the future, and even the future itself has been brought into question. After a century in which capitalism, materialism, rationality, and globalization dominated modern lives, the new century before us presents an opportunity to consider new models for living and new visions of the future.

Imagine that our modern lives don’t come at the expense of our natural habitat and diversity of the creatures that live in it. Imagine that our resorts grew without limiting people’s access to the natural beauty. Imagine that we didn’t sacrifice the livability of many for the comfort of the few. Imagine that our law and politics are used to free people’s imagination instead of prohibiting it.

Whistler now has a chance to consider that alternative vision by getting involved in a Canadian Developmental Aid project in developing countries. It will be like a fresh start to build an ideal resort community in some foreign land. An ideal resort that is built by a legion of volunteers, who will be guided by a common vision of new world models. An ideal resort where public access to its natural beauty is not limited by expensive admission fees. An ideal resort where decisions on its marketing and growth strategy are not dominated by a big corporation’s agenda.

It is too late for us to do all of those things here, but it is not too late for the people in emerging resort communities. Our expertise and experience in developing a world resort should be used to improve the lives of the people who have guarded the lands for centuries, not to marginalize them. Call me Don Quixote or call me the village fool. I only try to see the world of possibilities through the eyes of our children.

Jay Wahono

Whistler

Finally, Dialogue Café in Pemberton

I would like to thank William Roberts and Sheldon Tetreault for their efforts to bring the Dialogue Café to Pemberton.

It is almost perfect timing to start a dialogue (except earlier would have been even better) as it is a time of change and opportunities for the Pemberton Valley, therefore participation and citizen engagement are more important than ever.

The first event “Why I live in Pemberton - The importance of place” was fantastic and we are lucky to have a tool that allows us to be supported in our endeavor and communication to become the best we can be as a community.

For those of you who care for this community and would like to share visions and ideas with the community and our leaders in a casual set up, I urge you to participate in the next Dialogue Café. Then again it’s not just about voicing your needs, ideas and your opinion it is also important to stop and listen.

I sincerely hope this was the first Dialogue Café of many in Pemberton. It will help each of us to understand all stakeholders of this community and bordering communities.

Alexandra Ross

Pemberton

A galaxy of stars thanks

On behalf of the Whistler and Pemberton Girl Guides, I would like to extend a  BIG thanks to John Nemy and Carol Legate from the Pacific Observatory for coming out last Thursday night to give the girls a slide show presentation for their Astronomy badge. There's nothing that gives me more pleasure than to see young girls exploring and getting excited about fields in science and technology. Who knows, we may have opened a new path for a "junior star gazer" to follow in your footsteps!

Melissa McKay

1st Whistler Guides