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Letters to the editor

An answer at a time of crisis

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As a 14-year resident of this community I have had occasion to wonder what it is about Whistler that brings people here for a season and keeps them here for a lifetime. It wasn’t until I was faced with a crisis that affected me and 26 other families in the community that the answer became obvious.

On Dec. 3, 2008 I finally had my answer. It is Whistler’s incredible sense of community… its ability to stand together during difficult times and help out those around them.

As one of many organizers of the Whistler Children’s Centre Silent Auction, I was amazed by the overwhelming generosity and support we received from the community. Many businesses and individuals came forward to offer donations and support, and volunteer their time and resources to help us make this a success.

On behalf of the Whistler Children’s Centre, the parents and the children of this community I thank you. You have provided hope where there once was a feeling of hopelessness.

As I walk the now echoing halls of the Spring Creek Facility I reminisce about the memories of children playing in the rooms that now lie empty. I find comfort in the fact that no matter what the future holds for the Whistler Children’s Centre, the community of Whistler has spoken. Child care is very important to us as a community and we will take the necessary measures to protect it.

Ryan Donohue

Whistler

Uniquely Whistler

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel compelled to express my disappointment that Whistler's stakeholders once again fail to see the importance of the village maintaining its uniqueness. Does the village centre need another boring franchise restaurant?

Citta has always been a place to meet, locals and tourists alike, and it is its uniqueness that draws people there. I realize change is an inevitability, but I can only imagine how excited everyone would be if Citta got a facelift instead of an eviction notice.

If Citta goes, do we skip the village altogether? Where will you be...?

J. Jackson

Whistler

It’s about family

Luckily for me, I had the chance to attend the Citta 25th Anniversary Party.  While I would not call myself a regular at Citta, I still seemed to know half of the people there, and it’s the one place that pulls me in from Village Square more often unplanned than not.

The vibe was electric and the music amazing. Guitar Doug, Grateful Greg, with Jordan of SSMB on keyboards, played with an even greater sense of joy and passion than their usually impressive shows.

All this made me think that this is about something else, something more important: family. Not my biological family, but family nonetheless.

I’d like to thank Scott Gadsby, the awesome staff, and the oh-so-happy to be there patrons — my friends, my family, even the ones I don’t know that well yet.

There are lots of great special events in this town, but a simple get together and a little live music with this local crowd feels like a truly special occasion — one which I was pleased to have shared. One that I hope Citta can carry on for many, many years to come.

Brad Kasselman

Whistler

IPP math

In the spring of 2001, B.C. was so happy with the $1 billion profit made on B.C. Hydro exports that the government even decided to give every household a $200 credit towards their hydro bills.

Lucky, lucky us!

At the same time we B.C.ers were doing the power mambo, our California neighbours to the south were in an "electricity crisis."

Since that time we seem to have been so bad with our energy demands here in B.C. that we have to put an IPP project on every bit of moving water in the province. I am even starting to think about hooking up a turbine to the outlet of my toilet to help out.

Before I started retrofitting my toilet though, I did a bit of math.

B.C. (according to Stats Canada), likes to build an average of 28,901 dwellings a year. A single 50 megawatt run-of-river project in B.C. a year seems to handle this demand nicely. B.C. Hydro's 2006 call for power was a total of 1,559 megawatts. And the 2008 call is shaping up to be the same.

Now keep in mind that I went to a B.C. school. I never understood California math.

John Buchanan

Squamish Valley Conservationist

WCWC should revisit their approach

This letter was sent to the environmental assessment office and to the WCWC. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

I was encouraged by the large turnout at the recent public meeting in Pemberton to discuss the Ryan River Power Project. I was discouraged by the negative delegation from the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

I have admired most of the causes that this group has undertaken in the protection of rivers and wilderness, encouraging Smart Growth principles in new developments and preservation of wild salmon, just to name a few. I do not at all understand the negative approach to run-of-river power projects and the Ryan in particular.

As an electricity user I would like to see more of my power come from hydropower. I would like in the future to perhaps be able to use an electric or hydrogen vehicle, maybe even ride an electric train, in order to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. If our society is to succeed in reduction of this dependency then we need to have an increase in other kinds of energy.

While I understand that there is no perfect source I believe that these small power projects are the cleanest and best method that we have available, and are likely to have in the future. Currently 95 per cent of our electricity in B.C. is hydro generated and I would like to see that reach and stay at 100 per cent.

As our population grows and our demand for electricity increases as we reduce our fossil fuel dependency, our only other option would be the building of mega dam systems which flood whole valleys.

The Ryan is not a wild B.C. river. It has been logged in its upper reaches and dyked and drained for farmland along the lower reaches. The current proposal seems to do a very good job of minimizing any further damage.

The argument that we should not be selling power to the Americans is one that I also strongly disagree with. As a province and country we need to be able to sell goods and services in order to be able to pass on an economic legacy to our grandchildren. I would also think that if we could generate and send enough clean hydropower south that we could prevent further construction of fossil fuel power plants, and perhaps even keep nuclear power at bay as well.

The issues that were raised at this meeting that I agree with are that there have been mistakes made in the management of some previous projects. I think that if enough of us raise those issues they can be successfully managed.

I agree that there needs to be some sort of cumulative effect studies done on rivers, and on the region. We may need to make some decisions on power plants and their infrastructure versus tourism, but we are a long way from that point. We may also decide that we want to have some rivers stay wild, as their value is too high to allow any development.

It is also important that we ensure that if a proponent makes commitments as part of the approval process that those need to be binding on a subsequent purchaser. Local governments need to be able to have a say in the process, either as part of an OCP process or development permits of some sort.

I would suggest that the WCWC revisit their blanket opposition to small hydro power projects. Our society cannot continue to say no to all proposed changes and expect to maintain our quality of life. If we want to be able to say no to something like a coal-fired power plant proposed for an area, we must have an alternative to offer.

I support further study on the Ryan be done as part of the Environmental review process. Unless the science turns up some reason to say no to this project then I believe that it should proceed.

Rod MacLeod

Pemberton

Thanks for caring and sharing

Recently, I suffered a life threatening injury by breaking my neck and wanted you to know how lucky and blessed I feel today. Everyone did the right thing at the right time to keep me immobilized so I would not suffer spinal cord damage.

An incident like this really has brought to the forefront of my awareness just what an incredible caring community we live in here in Whistler. From new and old friends of the MAC exercise, the staff at the Meadow Park Sports Centre and the gentle paramedics, to the health clinic staff, I was given the best care possible. Jennie Helmer, the ambulance attendant, effectively kept my mind off things by sharing stories on many interesting topics, which made the emergency ride to Lions Gate fly by (literally).

My thanks goes out to those who shared unexpected flowers, plants and gifts with me, which are continuing to provide a cheerful environment in which to heal and recover. They came from the staff at Signal Hill Elementary, the Low Incidence Support Team, School District 48 Student Services staff, Rotary Club, neighbour Linda Thorstad and the Whistler Adaptive Ski and Ride program.

In addition, meals and goodies from the Villards, Ormerods, Johnsons, Pendygrasses, Jennifer Erickson and the Finlaysons all helped me, Glenn and Sandra through the first challenging days at home.

The biggest thank you of all goes to my husband Glenn and my daughter, Sandra (who just happened to be at home for a while). Thank you Glenn for being at my side, both as a watchdog of my care and support for all my new needs. And to Sandra who has been helping me to be more mindful of the restrictions on movement and cooking up tasty meals designed to encourage healing.

Thanks again to everyone for the support and caring.

Carol Bayliss

Pemberton

Breakfast success

The Pemberton Secondary School grad class would like to thank everyone who made Breakfast with Santa an enormous success. Close to 400 people came out on Sunday, Dec. 7 th to visit with Santa and join in a pancake breakfast. The event raised close to $2,000, which will go  towards offsetting prom expenses.

We'd like to acknowledge the generous support of Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Mt. Currie Coffee Co., Frontier Pharmacy, Home Hardware, Rona, as well as all media in the Sea-to-Sky corridor that vigorously promoted our event. We'd also like to thank PSS teachers, administration and parents for all of their help in pulling off the most successful Breakfast with Santa, yet.

Also, thank you to Santa for taking time away from the North Pole to spend the day with us. (It's a brave man who leaves elves in charge of a toy workshop!)

And finally, we'd like to express our appreciation to all the young families in the area who attended our event, tolerated the glitches with good humour and shared some holiday spirit.

Cindy Filipenko

on behalf of the PSS Grad ’09 Class

Big picture perspective missing

I wish to express my deep concerns with the Ryan River Hydro Project proposal.

The proponent is proposing a 145 megawatt private hydropower project on the Ryan River. This project will involve building a dam (or "weir") across the river, drilling a 9.5 km long tunnel, creating nearly 8,000 dump-truck loads of waste rock and dirt, and building 26 km of new transmission lines.

The provincial government does not have a comprehensive plan that evaluates the cumulative impact of run of river projects. There should be a process whereby "life-supporting" rivers, such as the Ryan River, are identified and not exposed to any hydro development whatsoever. There are rivers and creeks that may be suited to these projects, but to allow every proposal to proceed with no regard to their cumulative impact is short-sighted and irresponsible.

Industry standards need also be prepared with regards to implementing safeguards to prevent temporary drying out of the river with associated fish deaths, as happened at the nearby Miller Creek run of river project. A similar occurrence on the Ryan River would be disastrous for the Pemberton Valley’s people, farms, fish, wildlife and tourism industry.

Jennie Helmer

Pemberton

Afraid to face Parliament

Well, well. It looks like Mr. Harper got his wish and is now hiding behind the skirt of Canada’s Governor General because he was too scared to face Parliament with his own confidence motion. How very despotic.

Of course there are those among us who choose to ignore the fact that we live in a parliamentary democracy and just love sending out e-mails with titles like “Our Democracy Is Under Attack” or “Stop the Coalition From Destroying Canada.” Last time I checked a minority government is dependent on the direct or indirect support of the rest of Parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence.

In the end, Mr. Harper was a bully who acted like he had a majority and just as he was about to lose a vote of confidence he delayed democracy by locking out Parliament for the good of the country — nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Over the next few weeks I expect to be berated by a constant stream of right wing rhetoric. With words like undemocratic, separatists, unpatriotic and shady deals all being thrown around with such vigor one might think Sarah Palin is alive and well in the Conservative Party of Canada!

And isn’t it convenient that the right wing Conservative attack machine always forgets to mention that Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper both attempted to set up their very own “backroom coalitions” with the Bloc in 2000 and 2004. Not to mention the 14 times that the Bloc supported the Conservatives during confidence votes in the last session of Parliament — though I am sure Mr. Harper and his MPs have slick talking points to gloss over those facts too.

Now our local MP, Mr. Weston, has been sent home from Ottawa to spread misinformation through letters to the editors filled with the latest talking points hot off of the Conservative Party photocopy machine — the hell with the facts, spin baby spin!

Mr. Weston, your dear leader has trampled on democracy and played the bully in Parliament for far too long and you have been there the whole time espousing his greatness. Your dear leader may still survive but he is sailing into dangerous waters by following the path of least resistance through the proroguing of Parliament to avoid the inevitable. And, as the old saying goes, following the path of least resistance, especially in politics, is what makes the river crooked.

Buzz Henczel

Squamish

What is a ‘local’?

Recently I purchased a business in Whistler. It was at this time that the question, what is a "local," became an issue. Since purchasing the company I have been told the company is no longer a locally-owned company and I am not a local.

So my question is: What is a "Whistler Local"?

My family has been coming to Whistler since 1973. I can tell stories of a time when the highway would close on a regular basis because of snowfall or the fact that the village used to be the garbage dump. There was no Blackcomb. I learned to ski at 3 years old on Rainbow Mountain. How many of you who now live in Whistler remember Rainbow? I have raced for Whistler, taught skiing at Ski Scamps (before it became Whistler Kids) and served meals at Umberto's. Over the past 35 years I have lived at Whistler full time for years at a time and have always owned a home there.

With the Olympics fast approaching and Whistler trying to be named No. 1 in customer service I think Whistler should be expanding and examining their very narrow definition of a "local." Why am I any less a local than someone who has come over the last month on a one-year work visa? Am I not more emotionally and financially tied to Whistler? Do I not have a greater vested interest in how my business affects Whistler on a much deeper level?

There are thousands like me. People who consider Whistler their home. They help guide tourists in the village, invite friends to experience all that Whistler has to offer and spend their money to support the local economy.

So I ask you: What is a Whistler Local?

Michelle Kelsey

Vancouver

Owner of Nannies on Call and proudly self proclaimed local

An opportunity for change

I think everyone can agree that the present situation is appalling for all sides, though I support the coalition as the best option at this time given Mr. Harper's agenda and leadership (or lack of it).

However, I hope that all parties will look upon this as an opportunity to make some changes to our parliamentary system. While Stephen Harper is against publicly-funded democracy, I see it as a much better alternative to funding by interest groups like unions and big business. To me, the government is meant to represent the citizens. Right now, we see the government representing big corporations, big unions, certain areas of the country (Alberta and Quebec) and their own egos.

No wonder everyone is upset. Very few citizens feel that they are represented. Let's take this opportunity to make some much needed changes to the system that is clearly failing us at this time. Start by working on the following:

1. Proportional representation instead of first-past-the-post elections.

2. Minimum representation levels for women and First Nations.

3. Public funding of a democratic political system and bans on lobbying and funding by non-citizens (i.e. unions, corporations, foreign agencies).

4. House rules that foster co-operation and developing and enhancing suggestions instead of categorically opposing any ideas based on party lines.

5. Civics courses mandatory in all high schools and in citizenship classes so that all citizens have a clear understanding about how the system works and know the value of a vote.

6. Having a system in place where clear processes exist for difficult situations in Parliament that render the Governor General's role to be purely as a figurehead.

7. Mandate reviews of the political system at least every 100 years so that it can move with the times.

This is a perfect time to revamp our political system to deal with the short-term economic issues so that we can move on to the bigger, more threatening and longer-term environmental issues. The quicker we move on developing positive, collaborative solutions instead of further splitting the country with divisive rhetoric, the better.

Sue Maxwell

A great addition

I have been meaning to have a look at that little art gallery that opened by 7-Eleven for a while but haven't had the chance. I heard that the artists were holding Sunday markets in December and decided to check it out.

There were a bunch of different local vendors and artwork on the walls. I asked one of the girls about the space and she explained that it is temporary until it gets rented.

Whistler really needs a place like this permanently. It is a great addition to the community and it's run by locals showing our local talent. It's a little "rough around the edges" right now but overall I am impressed! If you get the chance stop by on a weekend.

Samantha Watt

Whistler

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