I would like to thank both sides and the middle of the 'sled affair'. Bryce Leigh's effort to convince sledders they are actually part of humanity required courage that I don't have. If there is any snow in Black Tusk next winter he is likely to have 100 irate snowmobilers doing donuts on his front lawn. Over the past few years I have made owners of loose dogs angry with my letters and it is all I can do to deal with the damage caused by a few loose dogs, owners send into my garden.
I would like to thank you for publishing the two letters from angry sledders. They confirmed the wisdom of the decision I made last year to not write any more doggone letters with the naive hope I could convince dog owners to specifically keep their dogs out of my garden and to generally prevent their dogs from further degrading our environment by leaving the pollution that comes out of their 'tail pipes' alongside the roads and valley trails.
I made my decision after an encounter with an owner whose two loose dogs decided to do donuts in my petunias. I was about to damage their psyche's when I noticed their apparent owner standing on the road. I don't use the "f" word very often but after he confirmed the dogs were his I yelled, "Get your foolish dogs out of my garden." I yelled partly out of frustration but also because he might have been deaf too, for he was standing by the muni sign which reads, "Dogs must be leashed" that, just in case, includes the graphic of a person with a leashed dog. When the owner replied, "Don't talk to me like that" in a tone that implied I had injured his psyche the exchange went to a place beyond reason and hope.
Were it not for another election conflict and the world wide effort to restore the health of our life sucking economy, Lauren would have been a small sign of hope. A couple weeks ago her dog Katie Rose, a large dog small pony cross, decided to help me cultivate my garden. She had a collar with a name tag and number but my eyes are bad and my memory is worse so I reached up and removed her collar. I called her mom, explained the situation and expressed my desire to return the collar. When I gave her the collar Lauren thanked me and I thanked her. The encounter made me think we could cooperate to save our environment, if only we had the time and the feeling it matters.
In defence of sleds
I read with a grain of salt the letters to the editor regarding snowmobiles in the April 23 issue of Pique . I first off enjoy your magazine very much and as a professional adventure athlete for over 20 years it has helped me read about the place I have grown up in and I enjoy so much.
The problem I see with these kinds of letters is that they are one sided and also most of the time not very accurate. I know it is great to stir the pot, however as a journalist for a number of papers and magazines on my own personal adventures I find a better way to tackle these issues is to provide both sides equal opportunities.
I have raced at the pro level in many different human powered sports, including being the number one adventure athlete in Canada from 1994 to 2004. I also race dirt bikes and ski tour and sled ski and sled over 120 days in the winter. I am very lucky that I get paid to play and am also keen on the environment in which I use everyday.
The issue for me is not that sleds are great for the planet, however the facts the letter writers are using are far outdated. In fact sleds have to pass stringent environmental laws and they do that with flying colors. Could they be better? You bet and they are each year. I, in fact, have just brought into Canada the first ever electric dirt bikem called the ZERO X, and this thing goes zero to 50 in two seconds and has zero emissions and no noise. Sleds, dirt bikes and ATVs are moving at a far greater pace to becoming silent and emission free.
Each day Whistler Mountain pours 450 litres into each of their 16 groomers to comb the mountain. Blackcomb does the same, and this is just one day and one way they are tied to fossil fuel. I am not suggesting they should stop this as it allows people to enjoy the outdoors and live life to the fullest. For many, sleds provide the same enjoyment.
If these people want to conserve then they should do so by looking at their own life and deciding what is good for them and do it. But where people get off tangent is telling others what they should do.
I really enjoy your paper and I hope you continue to print both sides of this environmental issue. The problem I have with the way you did it this time is that many people have no idea how much gas sleds use or what they are used for and will believe this anti-sled message instead of the true facts which will provide people with the real issues and how we can make sleds better in the future, as they are not going way.
On a side note I am sure these three people, and others like them, would not mind a sled, helicopter or other motorized vehicle coming to their aid if they ever need one... talk about hypocrisy.
A toxic mix
Saturday was the last day of public skiing in the Callaghan, with a special event going on in an organized ski up to the Callaghan Country Lodge past Callaghan Lake. Skiing conditions would have been excellent first thing in the morning for the over 75 participants, except that two snowmobiles had completely torn up the grooming which was done in the early evening previous.
That is two people destroying over 10 km of trail (which needs to be skied both directions) for what potentially could have been well over 100 people.
And ignorance was not their excuse. They were approached by someone letting them know that a race was taking place the next morning and not to drive on the ski trails. The two individuals were verbally abusive and continued on their way, destroying the grooming wall to wall (there was lots of room to stay off the grooming if they had tried).
This kind of complete disrespect and ignorance seems to ride rampant in the snowmobiling community and helps gives all riders of snow machines a bad reputation.
Not even getting into all the environmental concerns, this action just highlights the reasons that snow machines do not mix well with other forms of backcountry recreation. Regulating and prohibiting snowmobiles in certain wilderness areas should definitely be upheld and even expanded where possible.
The food bank needs food
I took a friend to the food bank in Whistler today and I was devastated to see how empty it is. Sarah says that because so many people are out of work in Whistler, many are relying on the food bank. Even though the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation gave $5,000 to the food bank recently, it must have all been used up because they are in dire need of the following: rice, canned fruit and vegetables, large canned soups, canola oil, butter, eggs, bread flour, pancake mix, Kraft dinner, honey, jam, pasta, pasta sauce, cookies, cereals, dishwash soap, toilet paper.
Please take your food donations directly to Sarah at the Whistler Food Bank, at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on the first and third Monday of each month between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This way the food is fresh.
Please do not donate food that has expired. Try to imagine that you were receiving the food - it's nice if it's fresh and yummy, isn't it!
Thank you so much to Sarah, Lorna, Kari and Nataly for doing such an excellent job supporting people in need in Whistler. The Whistler Community Services Society helped our family the first three years we were in Whistler and it is because of their endless generosity and support that we have been able to make steady progress and settle into the community.
Be an angel - donate some food today to the Whistler Food Bank.
Time to change drivers
Re: Election debate - economic management
The Campbell Liberals tout themselves as great economic leaders. But under their direction, we have seen an explosion in homelessness, massive cost overruns on the Vancouver Convention Centre, the costly privatization of electrical power, continuing child poverty, a promise to not sell B.C. Rail broken, and the sale itself bungled and entangled in an RCMP investigation.
Obviously, when it comes to steering the B.C. economy, we need to put people more responsible than Gordon Campbell & Co. in the driver's seat.
A sound energy plan
Contrary to Scott Turrin's letter to the editor, B.C.'s Energy Plan is Farsighted, Green and Cost-Effective.
While describing our Energy Plan this letter will also correct some of the errors in Mr. Turrin's letter.
Our 2007 Energy Plan directs B.C. Hydro to meet a minimum of half the new electricity demand through conservation. Rather than "mandating B.C. Hydro to sign Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPA) with IPPs," the Plan then lets B.C. Hydro choose how much they plan to build themselves or to buy from IPPs, industrials, or even to import (up to 2016).
To ensure that B.C.'s public power legacy will be maintained, our government passed a law called the B.C. Hydro Public Power Legacy and Heritage Contract Act. B.C. Hydro's plans and their impact on their customers' rates are also thoroughly reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
The government is not "giving away B.C.'s public assets for nothing." Run of river IPPs do not own the creeks. If they can get the 50+ permits and licenses and if they win an EPA to sell power to B.C. Hydro then they get to lease some of a creek's water and lease the land on which to build their plant from the Crown. The Crown leases require them to pay water rentals (just like any other resource industry pays royalties) and it ends in 40 years.
When the IPP's Water License and Crown Land lease ends in 40 years the IPP has no rights to sell anything to anybody. Like any lease, upon expiration, the government, as landlord, owns the leasehold improvements.
Most of the energy from run of river projects is firm. It is not "subject to interruption for any reason," rather it produces more energy when rain and snowmelt cause the creek to swell and less energy when they don't. And during the late spring when B.C. Hydro does not need much energy it pays IPPs half the price it pays for energy in the winter when it wants more energy.
While energy from B.C. Hydro's decades old projects is about $25/MWh (since the debt incurred long ago to build them has now been paid off) B.C. Hydro has told the B.C. Utilities Commission that the cost of energy from building new projects, like their recent Aberfeldie project, is comparable to the costs of new IPP energy.
There are not 112 Licenses for IPP water power projects in the Sea to Sky electoral area. There are only 14. Mr. Turrin should be aware that there is a huge difference between Water License Applications and Water Licenses granted. Like mining claims vs. mines, IPPs must investigate a number of green energy sites to end up with a few actually built.
There are seven operating run of river projects in the S2S corridor. And about half of the 32 run of river projects that are now operating in the province were built while the NDP were in office - vigorously promoted by then Premier Mike Harcourt as a new way of providing low-cost power, "which will act as a catalyst for industrial and economic development throughout our province." Ironic for the NDP to now call for a moratorium.
B.C. Liberal Candidate,
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky
In support of Joan
I'm writing to express my support for Joan McIntyre's re-election. Joan put in an excellent first term as our MLA. Her engagement at the local level and collaborative approach to regional issues is proof of her leadership, and her promotion to the cabinet is evidence of her hard work and political skill.
Joan has demonstrated exceptional insight into Whistler's needs and has been incredibly responsive to areas of local concern. She has consistently advocated on Whistler's behalf on the issues of Highway 99 and childcare. Whistler has no better proponent for these issues in Victoria.
Joan's contribution to our community and the entire Sea to Sky corridor is an excellent example to all those who wish to contribute and serve.
I am happy to endorse Joan for re-election and look forward to her continuing effort on behalf of the residents of the Sea to Sky corridor.
Two bad choices
A long time ago, when Gordon Campbell's Liberals were first elected, they (he) said they were going for electoral reform, and now eight years later this has still not happened. Reform means a fair form of electing where 30 per cent of the vote for a party gets 30 per cent of the seats and 5 per cent of the vote gets 5 per cent of the seats. There has been no attempt to achieve this, although it is what most of Europe does. Why we don't have proportional representation by now is hard to understand.
Why anyone thinks that STV accomplishes anything is beyond understanding. It ain't great and it ain't a start. It is just stupid!
In our predicted enlarged four-seat riding we are told we can only vote for one, unless we choose to claim that the others are second, third and fourth class. Why should we not vote for our preferred party XXXX, not 1, 2, 3, 4. In the current system everyone votes for a party not a person. All candidates are running for a party and vote that way in the house.
When, one wonders, do we get a chance to vote for a real PR system? A start would be to not vote for STV. If we vote for that it could be an even longer time.
Right now we are only able to choose between one bad system and another even worse.
No 'murder' at the airport
I am writing to express my disappointment in reading G.D. Maxwell's column last week, in which he wrote of "the RCMP officers who murdered Robert Dziekanski." Such a statement can be heard at the pub or possibly on radio phone-in talk shows, but I expect more from the Pique's most-read columnist.
For the RCMP constables who attended the Vancouver Airport that night to have "murdered" Mr. Dziekanski, they would have had to form an intent to kill him. Based on the evidence at hand that was not the case. What it shows instead was that they attended to multiple calls for help from the public and airport employees.
When they made contact with Mr. Dziekanski, they made a decision to use a RCMP-supplied tool, a tool they had been trained in and that was designed to harmlessly subdue subjects. It can be argued that they used the Taser incorrectly or too soon after making contact with Mr. Dziekanski, or that the Taser itself is not as harmless as the manufacturer says it is, but to bring the word murder into the conversation is inflammatory and wrong.
Max, to my knowledge, has had some training in law and should know better. While he writes an opinion column, Whistlerites often rely on Max to provide them with the information they need, and often describe how they first turn to the Pique's last page on Thursdays. Max should add to the public discourse of this community instead of muddying the waters and letting his emotions get away from him.
Max often stands for the little guy. In a prior column he showed lots of empathy for Mr. Dziekanski's situation before being tasered. I encourage him now to try to put himself in the shoes of the constables who responded to this incident and were faced with a giant incoherent man who had previously demonstrated irrational and violent behaviour. These constables are not omnipotent, they are average people like you and me who go to work every day to pay the bills and do the best they can. They may sometimes make mistakes, and these mistakes may have terrible consequences and will be scrutinized and picked over by people armed with "common sense" and lots of hindsight.
It's a good thing Max's mistakes usually only result in a mild rebuke from his readers.
Driven to drive
I have just been on the phone to the Transport Department of the RMOW. I rang to find out the reasoning behind the extra cuts to the bus frequency for this year's spring/summer/fall schedule. The bottom line: budget.
This from a council that has accepted a pay increase - unbelievable news during a worldwide recession where most governments and businesses are tightening, not loosening, their belts.
If our council really did care about the environment and sustainability of Whistler (instead of just paying it lip service) it would be working to increase the availability of public transportation to all who live and work here, not reducing it.
This is one commuter who is sadly throwing in the towel and heading off to the car dealers.
Council, shame on you.
Driven to apologize
Recently it came to my attention that some Whistler residents harbour considerable frustration, anger and possibly even fear towards the ignorant driving habits of non-locals in their communities. I admit that I have contributed to this problem in the past, and I would like to publicly and sincerely apologize to anyone who has been affected, and to assure him or her that I will not be conducting myself in any remotely similar manner in the future.
I hope that anyone subject to similar temptations who happens to read this letter might reconsider their driving habits and choose to conduct themselves with the same respect and consideration for Whistler and its neighbourhoods as they would if they were driving in their own hometowns.
More suggestions for dummies
Re: Dog Poo for Dummies ( Pique April 16)
Kudos to Michele for writing this piece in an environment where speaking against dogs is considered almost blasphemous. However, just admonishing people to pick up after their pets has and never will work, so I would propose more of a "tough love" approach to the problem.
Dog poos and you don't pick it up? $500 fine.
Dog off the leash and running through the neighbourhood unsupervised? First offense: $750 fine. Second offense; $1,500 fine. Third offense: you don't get your dog back as you have proved yourself to be an irresponsible owner.
The municipality could solve its cash flow problems and reduce the amount of their proposed tax increases and reduce wages on having people clean up after these animals and catch stray dogs. So far a win-win situation for all involved. Cleaner town, lower taxes and nobody's dog running loose where it shouldn't be.
Another way to raise municipal revenues, enforce the no bike riding bylaw in the village and make it stick. I figure if you can afford a $7,000-$8,000 bike, you can afford the $2,000 fine as well. From what I've seen personally, the bylaw officers let everyone off because they are their friends, roommates, etc. If you don't want to do your job, I am sure there are plenty of people who will take them and enforce the law like they are being paid for.
Before everyone gets their underwear in a knot and jumps on their computer to blast a reply to this... .a point to think about. Have you ever done these things yourself at any time? If so, commenting on this would be just a tad hypocritical, to say the least. Responsible dog owners and bike riders will have no issue with this.
Oh, and for all those who say it will affect tourism negatively, after 13 years in this town, I have noticed that 95 per cent of the offenders are locals.
I find that stepping in a pile of dog crap or getting run over by some idiot on a bike more likely to affect tourism negatively. Don't believe me? Look at all the letters from visitors about it.