Some seriously good people among us
Last week, a cheery individual stopped into my shop with a tin of homemade shortbreads and a Santa hat. We had never met, but that was beside the point — she was just out spreading some holiday spirit. Aside from her generosity, what struck me was how her actions reminded me of the quality of Whistler's community. Without pretense, a donations box, or any hesitation that people may wonder if the cookies were, perhaps, poisoned!?.. there she was, on a random Monday in December, fighting the good fight.
Someone else made the same point just outside Southside's parking lot a few minutes ago. Coming back to the truck, unaware that the keys were even missing, I was stunned to see them placed under the windsheild wiper. It would've been easy to just leave them in the slush and walk on; would've been tempting to open the truck and steal all the tools inside. You could've even driven away... if you felt like being a bad guy.
The point is that, wherever you live, it's easy to blend in and not make any effort. Maybe it's because we're a small community and they stick out more easily, but there are some seriously good people among us. We just wanted to say thanks.
Follow the Swedes
Re: “Beyond twist bulbs” (Pique feature, Nov.22)
I think, we could minimize lifestyle changes and still cut our Bunyanesque carbon footprint if we would switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The Swedes pursue such an energy strategy based primarily on biomass and waste. They plan to be oil free by 2020. Today, Sweden gets about 35 per cent of its total energy needs from fossil fuels, Canada 75 per cent (Swedish Press, March 2007).
Fossil fuel use represents a massive, artificial injection of carbon — previously inert in the ground — into the atmosphere. The result is a continuous net increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide content. Biomass energy, on the other hand, is carbon neutral. Successive crops of biomass (wood, wood waste, grain, agriculture residue, other organic waste, etc.) merely recycle carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. Biomass is more practical and abundant than most other green energy sources (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, etc.), and far safer than nuclear energy. The various practical forms of biomass energy include ethanol, bio diesel and biogas for vehicles, and fuel for electricity and heat-generating plants. Canada has vast agricultural and forest capacity to produce it yet biomass here gets lukewarm press at best. Our government should direct maximum research effort to fine-tune biomass (particularly cellulosic) technology, and provide production subsides and tax breaks to biomass energy producers and users, possibly from carbon tax.
The Swedes are also big on incinerating garbage (municipal and industrial) to generate electricity and heat. With modern technology, pollutant emission is well below the tough EU environmental standards. By contrast, we truck most of our garbage to landfills. I know of only one small incinerator in the Lower Mainland (in Burnaby).
I think we should follow the Swedish example. The sooner we switch to renewable and sustainable energy sources, the more carbon we would leave in the ground and the less new carbon dioxide we would force feed into the atmosphere.
A couple things overlooked
It was with a great deal of interest that I read the article in this week’s Pique regarding the term to date of our present council. What I found most interesting was the omission of two rather large capital projects.
First, the sewage treatment plant, at a whopping $51 million (if there are no cost overruns). During the 2006 referendum the P3 proposal was defeated, much to the chagrin of our council and staff. Did anyone ever determine who paid the bill for the two-page scare ad that ran in our local papers during that adventure?
Number 2 in the omissions column is the $34 million iconic Lot 1/9 project. Wouldn't that money be better spent on a sports medicine clinic housing state of the art medical equipment (CT and MRI come to mind) and a full sports fitness and rehab centre?
Failing that, the elimination of the present Lot 1/9 proposal, might help in bringing the budget back in line without too much fuss or muss.
Give it a thought guys and gals. It might be just the thing to get the target off of your backs.
Iconoclast attacks icon
Ever since Olympic fever has taken over Whistler and the province in general (remember not so long ago, the dynamic dinosaurs?), enthusiasm has been in high supply.
In a recent issue of Pique Newsmagazine there was a photo of a “roof-like structure intended for Lot 1/9”. I can hardly believe that this structure is being taken seriously (maybe it will self-pollinate and then quietly fade away…).
This design defies the basic precepts of architecture. I support iconoclastic design and I am certain that were this to be built it would change the image of Whistler, as for the most part the town is an architectural non-event. But I am not sure that this change would be in the right direction. A high school student could have done better.
Rather than mow down trees on Lot 1/9 why not design a building, or multiple buildings, around and even over the trees, in harmony with nature. This could be done easily and ingeniously and it would truly represent “design for a small planet”.
Eat ‘real’ fish
I would like to applaud our consumer and commercial community on its efforts to support local food producers. We need to take our food production back from the multinationals.
On Dec. 14 the prestigious journal Science published a study that shows that parasitic sea lice infestations caused by salmon farms are driving nearby populations of wild salmon toward extinction. The results show that the affected pink salmon populations have been rapidly declining for four years. The scientists expect a 99 per cent collapse in another four years, or two salmon generations, if the infestations continue.
As a “reformed” salmon farmer, this study once again shows me the damage that we are letting happen to our wild salmon stocks. Working currently as a fisheries tech on some of our local rivers, the cumulative damage is evident and quite depressing.
This brings me to my point. I am disturbed as of late to see feed-lot grown Atlantic salmon back on our retail shelves in Whistler. I know that there is a price point with this product; this draws the fish into some of our commercial kitchens. Should we save money at the cost of our wild stocks? Let’s save up and eat “real” fish.
Various types of aquaculture show various levels of sustainability. Open-net pen farming of a foreign salmon species shows none. We need to ask where our fish came from. We need to be responsible to our wild resource.
HomeStay looking for beds
Following on the heels of the success of our Canadian women and men at recent World Cup races, I would like to present an opportunity for our community to support our athletes this February at the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships and the Telus Presents Whistler World Cup.
To make these races possible many event volunteers travel long distances (at their own expense) and these volunteers need accommodation. Please consider being a Whistler Volunteer HomeStay Host. If you can provide a bedroom and a few home comforts to an event volunteer, then you’ve got what it takes. We’re asking for a minimum four-night commitment between Jan. 30 and Feb. 26, with the majority of beds needed between Feb. 6 and 13 and Feb 18 to 24.
You tell us the kind of accommodation and the dates you have available and we will match your information with the needs of a volunteer. Together we can ensure the success of the events.
Visit whistleralpinevolunteers.com to complete the application form
Coordinator, Whistler Volunteer HomeStay Host Program
Concerns creeping to forefront
Previously behind the scenes development projects in Pemberton are now creeping into the forefront (or at least hosting parties).
For the past few months I have watched truckloads of fill go down beautiful new "private" roads, past the resurrected barn and the nicely polished Riverlands sign on Pemberton Meadows Road. The Riverlands represents a huge parcel of land (1,240 acres) including river frontage, composed almost entirely of land considered Crown or Agricultural Land Reserve. Concurrently, the village is trying to extend its boundaries (thereby removing Crown or ALR limitations on development). If this fails then "Crown Land is the best for development".
First Nations issues aside, the Crown land neighbouring Lillooet River (or any river for that matter) represents an important riparian boundary that protects water quality, fish habitat, sediment loads etc. — this land should never be developed.
It is equally appalling that the associated ALR land is largely being promoted as "equestrian". From my experience this is some of the most fertile soil around (or maybe on the planet) and should be used for growing food, not horses. The last time I checked, most Canadians don't eat horses.
Converting our wild and agricultural lands into giant luxury developments held by international hedge funds (Kuvera Capital) is unacceptable. I am not sure whether the development is finalized, or how many deals have already been signed with representatives from New York, London and Dubai, but was wondering if anyone has similar concerns, or if they can ease mine.
A loving environment
The holiday season is a time to reflect on the gifts we have received and bring into our consciousness the kindness and generosity of others. The Alta Lake School has had a busy couple of months of events and we'd like to recognize those who have been so helpful.
Thank you to The Grocery Store, who kindly donated drinks and food to help support our Bizarre Bazaar Cafe, Nov. 22nd and 23rd. Java at Nesters helped with the sandwich supplies and Vancouver's Aphrodite's Organic Cafe supplied all of the delicious pies!
Nesters Market, who shows the spirit of giving year-round to so many non-profits in our community, generously donated drinks and hot dog supplies to our annual Christmas Fair, Dec. 8th. Again, Aphrodite's Organic Cafe donated the yummy pies and quiches and special thanks to Nidhi Raina for supplying the delicious soup.
Thank you to all the hard working and eager parents and faculty from the Alta Lake School who donated their time and skills for both events. The very existence of the school depends upon this community's supportive and generous nature. Our children are incredibly lucky to be raised in such a loving environment so worthy of imitation.
Warmest Holiday Greetings to everyone!
The Alta Lake School