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Letters to the editor

Growing the culture of participation


For those of us who work to improve public participation processes, your editorial "Great expectations are met through participation" is pointing all in the right direction. If Whistler is to adapt our identity and core values in troubling economic times, this great expectation is a challenge for us all.
However for a still cynical public there is much suspicion of public participation masking as public relations. And engaging with local stakeholders and out of town experts should not be confused with the often messier but always valuable community engagement processes with everyday folks.
Fortunately with Whistler 2020, the Lot 1/9 process, the many Dialogue Cafes and opportunities for grassroots public gatherings on community matters, there is here a growing culture and capacity for informed deliberation and collective judgement. This participation goes beyond the "vocal few" and the raw opinion of individuals.
But we can all go much further. Media outlets such as Pique can be on the vanguard of "Solutions-focused journalism" now a five-term program offered at UBC's J-School. Governments can spend less of our money on opinion surveys of uninformed individuals with land lines during dinnertime, and put more into deliberative forums where randomly selected citizens work together to think through tough choices and trade-offs. And non-profit groups like the Whistler Forum, SFU's Centre for Dialogue, and the Canadian Centre for Dialogue and Deliberation can work more collaboratively to bring best practises of public participation in support of public officials and leaders as convenors.
Community organizer Obama in his campaign and now his presidency is demonstrating the stimulus for growing this capacity and culture of participation. Bringing diverse groups of people together and inspiring them to work together to solve tough problems is the new paradigm of leadership. We work at it through Leadership Sea to Sky. But we all have a lot to learn to get to the point where with President Obama, 79 per cent feel confident of him listening to the diverse views and voices of others.
Even President Obama can learn more when he visits Canada. He can learn as I did last week of First Nations leaders who speak of listening with three ears, the two we have on our head and the one we have in our heart.
William Roberts
President, The Whistler Forum for Dialogue and Leadership

Timing was dead on

While I was disappointed to see only a one-sided response to Maxwell's column "Timing is everything" (Pique, Jan. 8) in this past week's letters, I was not particularly surprised, as provocative words typically generate the loudest response from those who do not understand.
But after recently overhearing a conversation about the column which included interjections such as "it was unnecessarily graphic" and "why would someone write something like that?" it is clear that too many people are missing a crucial point, and I felt compelled to explain why I felt relief and respect upon reading his refreshing viewpoint.
Immediately following these incidents, there is a tendency for people to focus on the deceased individuals' passion for and experience with riding mountains, especially by repeating the (indeed inane!) statement that they died doing what they loved. This creates a sort of hero-mystique, and the corresponding lack of focus on the real facts allows people to think of the incident as a "tragic thing that happened" rather than what it actually is: a real person making a really stupid choice.
We are all jonesing for the winter that has not been, but some make the decision to take less risk, and therefore less turns, in order to survive to see another snowfall. The high avy danger this season is well known, and the staff at W/B have been going out of their way to try to prevent people from pushing into dangerous territory. Any mention of how skilled and knowledgeable the rider was, or of the "calculated risks" we take every day on the mountains, is complete nonsense: it is to say that these people honestly considered all of the devastating consequences of their decision, and chose it anyway.
There is absolutely no better time to talk about the cause and effect relationship between rider and avalanche than when the incident is fresh in everyone's minds and hearts, and glossing it over with "hero-talk" will do nothing to prevent the same thing from occurring in the future. But if one person stops to think about the horror of dying in an avalanche before ducking a rope because of this column, then something positive actually has been done.
Having true respect for the power of the mountains, and for the legitimacy of the passion of those who choose to ride on the side of caution, demands that we call it like it is.
Erin Iwaniuk

Think before you write
I can only hope that the families and friends of lost loved ones managed to overlook the vile article, carelessly written by G.D. Maxwell in the Jan. 8 Pique. It is beyond my comprehension how anyone can be so cruel and uncaring towards his own community.
Our family lost a close friend to the mountain on Christmas Eve. He was "playing safe, in bounds" ... and now gone. The location of his accident is irrelevant, he is no longer with us and dearly missed.
I was fortunate enough to have read and destroyed Mr. Maxwell's article, prior to his lurid descriptions being read by my young children, who are trying to cope with their recent loss. It would be a comfort to hear that future articles of such poor taste will find their resting place in the trash, and not subjected to others.
Tracy Kerr

Powerful writing
Re: Timing is everything (Pique, Maxed Out, Jan. 8)
One of the most powerful pieces of I've ever read! Maxwell eradicated the remotest sliver of thought in my mind of ever skiing out of bounds. I'm sure, if this piece was mass produced and distributed to every ski resort in Western Canada, and handed out at every ticket window with the purchase of a lift ticket, the incident rate of out-of-bounds skiing would plummet, and so too would the mortality rate.
Great column Max!
Dave Ofrenchuk

Running on empty
A dollar of income only buys a set amount of goods and services. If the RMOW raises property taxes more than the rate of inflation, or overruns the library building budget by $5 million, I don't have much of a say in these decisions.
However, for every dollar my property taxes increase, I will cut back spending on other Whistler goods and services. In this global economic environment, we consumers are drained of spending.
RMOW is "robbing Peter to pay Paul." We aren't stupid.
Edi-May Smithies

Children will remember
Kudos and thanks to Principal Galloway, and the teachers and staff of Spring Creek Elementary for presenting the opportunity to have our students and children to watch what will surely be one of the most defining moments in the very early portion of the 21st century.
While I am sure that the majority of students were pleased that class time had been temporarily suspended and they got to watch television, I feel that a lot of the students will, later on, reflect on the significance of the day's events, and the day will be added to the list of "do you remember where you were on" dates that mark the passage of human history.
Barack Obama's inauguration is easily the most significant event in the last seven years and I am grateful that the students received the opportunity to experience the event.
David Deally

Rotary and the community respond
On Monday, Jan. 12th The Rotary Club of Whistler were advised that a fire in the First Nations community of Skatin (between Pemberton and Harrison Lake) had destroyed the home and small store of a couple, leaving them with nothing.
Because the Rotary Club has been supporting the school there, the club, along with the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium, organized clothes, household items and delivered them to the couple on Friday, Jan. 16th. Many thanks to the members of these clubs, as well as the members of the Whistler Valley Quilters Guild, who supplied the items on such short notice.
David Oakes
President, The Rotary Club of Whistler

Shame about the prices
I have just seen the news that poor Intrawest is suffering and is now trying to attract people to Whistler with discounts - what a shame the Christmas season is such a rip off.
Our family of four came at Easter 2008 for 9,000 GBP, yet to have exactly the same trip starting Dec. 27th cost 12,000 GBP. Everything is marked up causing most of the damage, with currency exchange not helping.
Maybe they are only interested in the local market anyway. I know they cannot do anything about less than half the mountain open, but that did not help either.
Sorry but I doubt we will be back, no matter what you want to discount too late. Has nobody heard of the "golden goose" fable over there? It's a shame because it is a brilliant place with great people on the ground trying to make it work.
Whilst I am on my hobbyhorse, can you somehow get "happy" night clubbers to go home quietly at 3 a.m. and stop waking people up!
Ian Smithson
Bingley, UK

Reflections on night walkers
To all the people who are walking along the highway dressed in dark clothing at night: Drivers can't see you until the last minute. Please wear anything light coloured, even if it's as simple as your hat. Or get reflective strips for your backpack or sleeves. Or use another mode of transportation, like the Valley Trail, bus or cab. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before we read about yet another avoidable death.
For your own safety, please don't risk going out like this.
Mel Arnold

Some fishy figures
According to Canadian aquatic biologists, a farmed salmon has to eat 2 to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish in order to gain one pound.
In 2000, farmed salmon production was 49,000 tons. In 2007, farmed salmon production was 78,000 tons.
Alexandra Morton will be showing up at the Brackendale Art Gallery on Saturday, Jan. 24. She will be talking about these and other issues pertaining to the unchecked and devastating effects of the fish farming industry in B.C.
John Buchanan
Squamish Valley Conservationist

Donations appreciated
I would like to express my gratitude to John Reese, of Mountain FM and all the generous people who attended the annual Toy Drive at the Westin Resort and Spa in December.
John Reese was kind enough to call the Mount Currie Health Center to invite the band to come down and share in the distribution of the donations made that morning. Thanks to the generosity of the organizers and the people who attended, Mount Currie Band was able to distribute 130 Christmas Hampers to band members this year. Your donations were greatly appreciated and went a long way to helping out our community hamper organization.
I send each and everyone who participated and donated, prayers of gratitude and the hope that you get many gifts and blessings in return for your kindness this past holiday season. On behalf of the Mount Currie Band, thank you.
Christina Leo
Acting Health Director
Mount Currie Health Center

To the rescue dogs
The Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association held its annual training and validation course on Whistler Mountain last week, from Jan. 12 to 16. In attendance were 27 dog and handler teams from various regions in B.C. and Alberta, four of which were from the USA. CARDA would like to thank the following organizations for all of their help and for their support in making this course a success:
RCMP Police Dog Services
Provincial Emergency Program
Parks Canada
Tantalus Lodge
Whistler Blackcomb
Blackcomb Helicopters
Kyle Hale
President, CARDA
Golden, B.C.

A lesson learned?
I walked by Brackendale Elementary this morning during recess; very,
very noisy up there. We had two days of peace and quiet Saturday and
Sunday and I had nearly forgotten how the noise tightens the muscles at
the back of the neck and disturbs concentration.
I hope when all this is over, with Triack running out of material in
February as recently predicted, a lesson has been learned that in
granting leases and licenses, strict zero tolerance noise and pollution
protections are in place and enforceable for any future tenants of any
industrial land anywhere near Brackendale. This machine was not part
of the operation when Triack started up and it should never have been
allowed to operate in the area.
We, in Brackendale, should not have to be on constant alert for what
might be foisted on us next (incinerator, go-cart track, asphalt plant,
airport expansion, Triack). Regardless of how land is zoned, which is
after all just a decision on paper, the quality-of-life rights and
expectations of the existing and planned residential area must be
paramount. We may well need industry and jobs but certainly not at
this kind of cost.
Dorte Froslev

Snowmaking appreciated

With the Christmas season behind us, I would like to publicly thank every person on the snowmaking team at Whistler Blackcomb for making the Christmas season as pleasant as it possibly could be. Your efforts did not go unnoticed by many of us and the possibility of new runs opening almost every day because of your hard work was really appreciated by myself and many others I am sure.
I definitely had a new experience and was thrilled one day when I came down the Lower Dave Murray and got to ski manmade powder. The young clients I was skiing with and myself took three runs in our new found passion - skiing the manmade powder.
Thank you again!
Andree Janyk

Much to appreciate
On behalf of the Whistler Children's Chorus and Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church we would like to formally convey our appreciation to the Westin Resort & Spa for their generosity in hosting the Christmas Eve Carol Service and Midnight Mass on Dec. 24, 2008. It was a big move for us to leave the conference centre after 24 years, and the Westin was gracious and accommodating in meeting our needs. Certainly Sherry Parks and the Westin team have demonstrated the Westin's community commitment to the citizens of Whistler and the guests of the resort.
The warmth and joy abundant during the services was amazing, and the readers were wonderful - Beth and Ross Harlow, Jane Reid, Georgia Astle, Libby McKeever, Ken Melamed and Alix Nicoll. We would also like to thank the Whistler Singers, Rocky Mountain Production Services, Judy Kirkpatrick at Avis Rentals, the staging team: Gary Pringle, the Thompsons, the MacDonalds and all the kids, the Barnes', the Durfelds, and the volunteers at the doors.
Best wishes for 2009 to all!
Alison Hunter & Janet Hamer
Whistler Children's Chorus

Awesome town to live in
I just wanted to thank the three Aussie lifties that were working the Creekside Gondola on Saturday morning. It was busy, but they were so stoked just to be there, pumping the people through, laughing and joking and giving out nothing but good vibes.
Their good vibes travelled with me as I commuted over to Blackcomb on the Peak 2 Peak gondola (what a smooth ride).... It turns out all the lifties on that side were stoked just to be there too!
I also wanted to thank the ski patrol who go out each day and often risk their lives to keep it safe for us.
OK, I'm on a role, so why not thank Munro, Greg Mac, Christine and all the kids from the Squamish Biathlon club that volunteered their time to make an unbelievable biathlon event at the Callaghan on Sunday - what an awesome facility. One-hundred-and-fifty people showed up for this event, about 80 more than expected, and it was a blast, excuse the pun!
Louise Rumble

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