"Not all those who wander are lost" (Tolkien). But we were. Sort of. Kind of. Mostly...
A recent unexpected overnighter on the back-side of Whistler left the three of us feeling a little chilled, a little embarrassed and profoundly regretful for the anxiety to which we were unintentionally subjecting our friends and loved ones.
The following morning found us at the end of Cheakamus Lake (not at all where we had planned to be). We were saved from the arduous trek back to Whistler by a passing helicopter pilot who was kind enough to offer us a lift. We very much appreciated knowing that the Whistler Search and Rescue were there and already searching for us.
A heartfelt thank you to all of the professionals who mobilized for the search and your tireless efforts to keep our family and friends informed and comforted until its happy conclusion.
Special thanks to Brad Sills, Scott Aitken, Binty Massy, Mat Bodkin and all the wonderful volunteers at Whistler SAR; S/Sgt. S. Leclair and Cst. S.W. Pope of the RCMP; Sheila Sherkat from the RCMP Victim Services; Blackcomb Helicopters and Whistler Blackcomb Guest Services/Mountain Staff.
To our many dear friends who instantly rallied around our worried families generously lending your comfort and support, we cannot thank you enough! We are so very appreciative of your concern and for being there for us... thank you all!
Larry Klein, Tom Honey, and Barry Armstrong
Give us your runners
Runners for Africa is a campaign being run by a small group of Whistler locals who are collecting gently-used running shoes to send to Northern Uganda.
The idea to send running shoes to kids and young adults in Guinea Bissau, Africa, happened a few years ago when I collected several pairs of shoes from local triathletes, filled a suitcase, and had my brother-in-law, Ben Hoffman, deliver them. The shoes were eagerly received by street kids that Ben befriended over years of travel to the area in an effort to negotiate peace and bring an end to a 50-year-old civil war. These kids had a possession that gave them a new status in the community; they wore them with pride. These shoes that sat in the back of closets collecting dust were turned into gold with a very simple gesture.
From Mar 7 to April 30 we will have donation bins at various locations throughout the corridor. Several schools, fitness centres and stores have agreed to help us in our efforts.
By tying the laces together and dropping them into one of our bins, you will be part of changing the life of someone who has never lived in times of peace and prosperity that we take for granted.
There is also a fund raising dance on April 15/11, from 8 p.m. - 1 a.m. at the Spruce Grove Field House. Tickets are limited and may be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate the community's donations.
Runners for Africa
Keep tennis going
I am extremely disappointed to hear about the problems the tennis club is experiencing.
One of the main reasons that I purchased a timeshare condo at Tyndalstone was the proximity of the tennis club.
I am a skier and tennis player and love the opportunity to enjoy each every other day. I have been to many of the clinics put on by your great professional instructors Marjorie, Peter and Kurt, and can say that they are first class and as much fun as any I have ever attended.
It would be a real shame if Whistler, a vacation destination that describes itself as world class, allows the demise of its tennis facility.
If the Holborn Group will not willingly honour its commitments, the community should step up and pressure them to do so.
Please don't let this excellent facility die.
PAC supports French immersion
I am writing to you on behalf of the Parent Advisory Council at Signal Hill Elementary in response to concerns raised about the possible implementation of French immersion at Signal Hill Elementary.
As the Parent Advisory Council for Signal Hill Elementary our mandate is to foster students learning, discovery and understanding of the world around them through parent involvement in the school.
This involvement supports our children's learning at home and at school, builds working relationships with teachers and improves the environment in which children learn.
Late French Immersion (Grades 5 - 7) is a "Program of Choice" as outlined by the Board of Education for Sea to Sky School District 48.This program is currently offered in all areas within this district where sufficient enrollment has been demonstrated.
Our School District provides equal access to education, including "Programs of Choice". As such, Late French Immersion is open and available to all students regardless of cultural, ethnic or socio-economic background, gender or academic skill. There are no pre-requisites to registering other than an interest in participating in this program of choice.
The call for enrollment for Late French Immersion (5/6 programs) for the 2011-2012 school year was held February 4th, 2011 in all communities within School District 48, including Pemberton. Currently, 34 Signal Hill Elementary School students have completed the registration form.
These students represent a diverse mix of the overall school population.
As a PAC, we are thrilled that Signal Hill Elementary has demonstrated sufficient enrollment. Pemberton students deserve the same opportunities as other students in our District.
As a result, the Signal Hill Elementary School PAC is following through on the process outlined by the District to formally request that a Late French Immersion program be implemented in September 2011.
The teachers at Signal Hill Elementary take great pride in nurturing a culture of inclusion and respect.
The PAC supports these efforts. The addition of a program such as Late French Immersion will further allow the school population to celebrate this culture while ensuring that we are providing a range of learning opportunities for all our children.
( This letter was also addressed to school district trustees )
Co-Chair, Signal Hill Elementary Parent Advisory Council
French language a must
For several years I have been following the debate in Pemberton regarding the implementation of French immersion at Signal Hill Elementary School. I read with interest the letter from Pemberton residents whom I assume are also teachers at Signal Hill.
They say they are not opposed to French immersion but it is quite clear that they are opposed to French immersion at Signal Hill Elementary School. I have some sympathy with them for some of the challenges that must be resolved if French immersion is introduced.
But it is absolutely wrong for them to decide that it is okay to deny some of our children the intellectual, cultural, educational and career advantages of learning French in this country.
The teacher's letter informs us of their concerns, which is understandable, but the teacher's solution is the absolute opposite of what education is all about. Sadly, these teachers demean their own professional ideals.
Further it can't help but be noticed that the children of Squamish and Whistler have this choice but apparently these teachers want to deny that choice to the children of Pemberton.
And there is another aspect to this which is being completely ignored: that is that by denying our children the chance to learn French (one of the two official languages of Canada) they are ensuring that our children will not be able to take their proper place in the government of our country, its agencies, institutions, departments and academic and corporate opportunities.
In 2007, in relation to the establishment of early immersion I wrote: "Apart completely from the intellectual and cultural advantages of knowing both official languages of Canada, we should not have any doubt about the very central fact of our national life. No one is ever going to the upper or top positions in the running of our country without the ability to speak both languages. These positions include but are not limited to the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, the Offices of Governor General, Prime Minister, Cabinet Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Speaker of the House of Commons and Senate, senior provincial and federal government departments; and increasingly senior academic positions in many universities, judicial appointments, journalism, advertising, business and professional opportunities as well as key positions in international sports organizations including VANOC as just one example.
Nothing I said then has changed the reality of life in Canada and it applies just as much to Grade 5/6 French immersion at Signal Hill as it did in 2007 to Early French Immersion. As I have said, the teachers concerns are understandable and there will be challenges to overcome. But what I hope the School Board will decide is that the opportunity to learn French becomes available in Pemberton as it is in other communities within this School District.
( this letter was also addressed to school district trustees )
The Honourable John A. Fraser
Boycott asphalt plant
Solution to asphalt plant issue! I have been following the issue related to the location of the asphalt plant and believe I have come up with a solution that won't cost the Cheakamus residents, the muni or Whistler taxpayers a dime.
It is obvious that this all boils down to money and that's what is preventing this thing from getting to where it needs to go.
Forget about how we got to this point and what's happened to date. By continuing to debate the whole affair, we aren't moving towards the desired solution, which is relocation of the plant.
The asphalt plant should not continue to be situated near the Cheakamus residential area. Nobody should be subjected to breathing in air that is blowing towards their homes 25 per cent of the time that may or may not contain harmful pollutants.
If the owner of the existing asphalt plant cannot "just do the right thing" and move his plant north of Whistler to the Wedgemount gravel pit before the summer paving season starts up... here it is... all Whistler property managers and owners, business operators, the RMOW and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways must boycott the purchase of any asphalt produced at the current plant location. If not already in place, the municipality needs to move forward now to ensure the zoning of the gravel pit area at Wedgemount accomodates the production of asphalt.
An invitation to other asphalt companies should be made to establish themselves in Whistler at the new properly zoned site.
The current Whistler asphalt plant operator can either move or fold his business. If he's smart, he'll do the right thing and move north before the competition moves in. The Cheakamus area residents should be promoting the boycott now by actively communicating with all potential asphalt customers. Hopefully, all customers will get on board and delay any planned paving until a new plant is established north of the municipality well away from established residential areas.
Here's to clean air!
Electricity costs could be worse
I'm writing in reference to BC Hydro's announced rate increases which could be as much as 50 per cent over the next few years. I suspect many people in Whistler are probably cringing at the thought of paying more for electricity.
Well, I'm originally from Ontario, and I would like to encourage Whistler Pique readers to put BC Hydro's rate increases into perspective: electricity rates in Ontario are double what they are here in BC, and they're headed higher as coal-fired plants are pulled from service.
People in B.C. just don't realize how lucky they are to have relatively inexpensive, cleanly generated hydroelectricity.
Keeping these hydroelectric assets in good working shape is well worth the cost. And in the end, I can guarantee you that B.C. is still going to have one of the lowest electricity rates in North America.
East Vancouver, BC
Ski town spirit
As a longer term local I've recently started working at a hotel and have observed something I'd like to share. I have noticed that guests come to Whistler, they ski the best mountains and they stay in the best hotel (where I work), which is great but when they are not riding or sleeping they are in the village.
When I used to go on ski vacations to Vermont I went for the skiing but also for the atmosphere of the place, the ski bum and ski town spirit was like a magic thing to me.
I think we have tremendously undervalued that aspect of ourselves here in our mountain town. People don't come here to hang out in a mall in the mountains, they come into the village to soak up some of that ski culture vibe and have a good time.
My call is to those decision makers to take a second look at the value of our ski town spirit.
The Olympics may have played a part but that's not the whole reason. We have lost vestiges of it steadily over time, I think of the Boot Pub and the old South Side etc... The Olympics are over, let's not take ourselves too seriously and get back to basics.
One suggestion is clear and that is to rectify the parking issue but my point is really just something to think about it general.
No tennis, fewer summer visitors ?
We are really disappointed in the changes in the fees and focus of the Whistler (Racquet) Tennis Club.
We come to ski in the winter, and like to play indoors a couple of times and come to play tennis in the summer.
The camps run by Peter and Marjorie have been a highlight for us, and many other tennis players we know from Seattle.
It is the prime reason we come to Whistler in the summer. It seems crazy that a world class resort might not have a good tennis facility. This will contribute in a loss of summer visitors like us...
Hoping very much that the club stays open. Losing the professionalism of Pete and Marjorie would be a huge loss. Kirk is a great guy too, and deserves the support of the developer and the council.
Lesley Burvill Holmes and Richard Bevan
Community needs tennis
As life-long tennis players and longstanding part-time Whistler residents, we are greatly concerned about the direction that the Whistler Tennis Club is heading.
Despite what the developers say, tennis is one of fastest documented growing sports in Canada and B.C. is leading the way.
Locally, Whistler has a vibrant tennis community that is committed to growing the sport at all levels.
The reality is that there is a symbiotic relationship between popularity, participation, and the availability of affordable, accessible, and well-maintained facilities. Indeed, we fear that it will become a self fulfilled prophecy that tennis growth will wain in the valley if the developers continue down their single-minded self-serving path of destruction.
We fully recognize the critical need for extended hours, improved facilities, and practical rates at the club. We also fully support community and municipal efforts to work closely with Holborn and influence them to readdress their recent radical departure from sound tennis business practices.
Whistler desperately needs tennis for the community at a grassroots level, as part of a four-season resort, and to accommodate an aging population who historically migrate to playing tennis regularly.
Rob and Marian Davidson,
New lines please
Is it possible on a sunny day to re-paint the lines on the highway?
I know it IS possible because it was done during the Olympics.
Not a day goes by when I'm driving in to work, through Creekside, when I don't almost witness a head on collision from people making their own center passing lane, or stopping to turn left at an intersection in the middle of the road.
It's hard because you can't really blame the drivers because they have no idea where the invisible lines are supposed to be.
A life saved
I would like to thank all the people who helped my friend and house guest Vic Tilton, who suffered a major heart attack on Sunday Feb 20, while skiing Whistler.
The decision to airlift him off the mountain, to speedily get the clot busting drugs and then to fly him to VGH for an angioplasty undoubtedly saved his life.
People ensured that his daughter came off the mountain, was looked after at the clinic, and connected with all their gear.
Whistler Blackcomb was ready to get us all down to Vancouver and into a hotel, had we needed the help.
We felt well cared for at a difficult time.
And to the people stuck in traffic as the helicopter went in and out, you helped save a father, husband, grandfather, friend, coach and all the people in his life are truly grateful.
Going with the dogs
After many visits to Whistler Blackcomb for skiing we decided to venture off the slopes and enjoy some of the other outstanding activities Whistler has to offer.
Being an animal-lover I was very excited to experience (book) my first dog sledding adventure.
A couple of months later, I hesitated only for a moment to cancel my trip after reading about the horrific acts by another dog sledding company, and my husband asked if I was sure I still wanted to go, and I replied "absolutely, I want to support those who do it right!" I had no idea what to expect during the trip, and have to admit that some of the experience took a little getting use to, but after absorbing it all I realized this is very cool.
My vision was of happy, frolicking dogs, and caring handlers, and I was not let down after substantial education from my guide Georgie.
Of course the first site I had when we drove into camp was of many dogs chained together, awaiting their journey, some barking with excitement, anxious to hit the trail, while others were quietly laying down, possibly saving their energy for what was to come.
I had to keep reminding myself that these are working dogs not lounge-lizards like my Jackson and Dakota.
Georgie was an awesome guide and instructor, explaining every step of the way - from how they examine every dog on the team for joint and foot issues, before they are put to work, and even swapping out a dog who needed additional examination prior to running.
I was introduced to each of my dog team and was able to "love on them" one at a time - getting to know a little bit about each dogs personality. I was especially drawn to "Berta" who was timid and sweet, and who was going to be one of the lead dogs - I wanted to take her home to my family of dogs.
She appeared a bit too lean, nervous, and introverted, not like some of the more vocal outgoing dogs, but Georgie assured me she becomes totally different when pulling the sled.
She could not of been more right - Berta shined like a new penny when she and her partner took lead of the pack - who was this dog Berta?? You cannot imagine the ruckus just before the three sleds began our journey. Most dogs cannot wait to get going and are barking at us to just release the brake so we can be on our way.
I was surprised at how smooth the ride was, given your backside is literally on the snow. We were comfortable and warm departing from the staging area.
The dogs were now in their element and thrilled to be on the run. Of course a bit of settling in was required to get everyone on pace and working seamlessly.While I only had a view of the dogs backsides I know they were smiling inside!
We made several stops for rest and many of the dogs took advantage of the time to "dive" into the snow banks - what a fun sight that was. They truly love this stuff!!
My Berta was nearly the happiest in the group and I thanked Georgie for educating me that she will become a different dog on the run - she surely was. I could not believe it when I was invited to actually be on the back of the sled with Georgie - what a rush that was and to see all 10 dogs working to make us happy.
I had to chuckle, when we passed another sled going the other way, when many of the dogs tried to show their alpha side to the other team - a definite pecking order I'd say.
When we returned to camp we rewarded the dogs with a treat for a job well done and loved on them a bit more - no barking at this stage as they worked hard for us and earned a rest.
Awaiting them is a gourmet meal of broth, chicken, veggies, and kibble, which they eagerly ate.
We toured around the kennels and met some of the other dogs and the two new puppies for the next generation team. I would love to bring my granddaughters here someday, as they are dog-lovers too.
A big thank you to everyone for a memorable adventure in Canada - you guys rock!!
Melissa Martin Merced