I’ll pass on 2010
I would like to thank Colin Hansen, the minister responsible for the Olympics, for making my decision to be nowhere near Squamish during the 2010 Winter Olympics very easy. The idea of paying B.C. government employees to “volunteer” has led me to the conclusion that if I were to vollee for the Olympics the closest I could hope to get to the Games would be directing traffic or picking up trash. As someone who has spent countless hours donating my time to the community of Squamish, to have VANOC say that this proposal will bring "workers with valuable skills to the volunteer pool" is an insult to the work I have done, as well as to the hundreds, if not thousands, of residents of Squamish who freely give of their time to make this town a better place year in and year out.
If anyone were considering volunteering for the Olympics consider the difference those 21 shifts that VANOC requires you to volunteer would make over the next two years if you were to volunteer for a local Squamish community group instead. There are countless organizations in town that could use those donated hours to make Squamish a better place to live once the Games are over.
Time and time again over the last few weeks I’ve heard the question: "What is Squamish getting from the Olympics?" Woo-hoo, we are getting VANOC to rent office space so that they can suck more life out of Squamish’s already overtaxed volunteer base because we historically are a giving community. What an insult, especially since the official Olympic mascots Huey, Louie and Duey could not even be bothered to show up at the press conference for this big announcement last week.
What else is Squamish getting from the Olympics? If you are to believe the rumors about the traffic plan, no private cars will be allowed on the highway unless you are a resident of a community along the highway. All tourist traffic will be in buses. How many of those buses will be stopping here in Squamish? Where will they be stopping? I can just hear the conversations now on the bus with the tourists from France or New Jersey. "Wow honey, did you see all those fast food franchises?" "Yes dear, and there was even a Wal-Mart. We’re going to have to go back and visit that town on our next vacation." Meanwhile all the local Squamish business owners are standing on the side of the highway waving signs saying "Y’all come back now."
So in closing I am urging any Squamish resident who is thinking of volunteering for the Olympics to take those 21 days VANOC is requesting and instead give 21 days work over the next two years to a local Squamish community group where your time and experience can benefit the community in which you live. Then rent out your house for as much money as someone is willing to pay, take three paid weeks off work for a trip to somewhere you could not normally afford to go, and send Colin Hansen and VANOC a postcard thanking them for making your trip possible.
I am writing on behalf of the numerous residents of the D'Arcy/Birken area. Last week the Pique published a letter about the route from Whistler to the ferries and how many potholes there are in the road. I am not by any mean attempting to make these potholes seem small and insignificant. But for all who travel this road these conditions are small peanuts compared to what us northern residents suffer at the hands of the non-existant road crews. I have to give my thanks to the one snowplower who actually came up the road a few times this year when he was needed, but he was on it so few times. The condition of the road to D'Arcy is insufferable, there are potholes big enough to hide a small trailer in. There is no way to track where they are or how many because there are way too many. If you would ever like to know what whiplash feels like just come visit us at the end of the road. There have been many times this year where myself and others have lost a little control on the road because of a pothole. You get one big enough, hit it just right, (usually landing after hitting another one), and at the right speed (even 50 km/h will do), and you will be able to feel the whole vehicle taking a trip of its own. When I contacted the Ministry of Transportation about the condition of the road they were unresponsive, I am still waiting to hear back almost two months later.
Lucky To Be Alive
I’ve been driving Highway 99 for 17 years, back and forth. You see, I, like many others, live in Brackendale and work in Whistler. I see my fair share of idiots on the road. But this story is not about all those idiots. It’s about all the near misses I’ve had.
The first is when the rockslide happened around 1995 or ‘96 by the old salt sheds. The rocks came through my front and side windows, and closed the three lanes of highway for two weeks. Lucky to be alive.
The second was when a car lost control going northbound and turned sideways right in front of me. I was going southbound, and I missed him by less than an inch. Lucky to be alive.
The third was when a car traveling southbound stopped to turn right into Brew Creek. I of course had to stop, there was nowhere else to go. Now I’m watching a transport in my rearview mirror, smoke billowing from its tires and starting to roll over onto two wheels. Luckily the car in front of me turns out of the way which allows me to floor it to get out of the transport’s way. With me now moving again, and no cars coming towards us at that precise moment, it gives the transport drover enough room to straighten the truck and not roll over. Great driving skill. And lucky to be alive.
Number four: I’m traveling northbound. I’ve just crossed over BOB (Big Orange Bridge). There’s a southbound snowplow in my lane. I see him and hit the shoulder to avoid him. I continue on and a few minutes later realize there’s no one behind me any more. I hear on the radio about a southbound snowplow colliding with a northbound van at BOB. Lucky to be alive.
And finally there was last Friday. We leave Whistler at 4:30 p.m. I carpool and luckily one of our members was three minutes late. We were stopped at BOB at 5 p.m. and waited for five hours while they cleared a limo and a car/van off the road. They were three minutes ahead of us. Lucky to be alive.
Now you ask, what’s the point of this letter? Here’s my point. I have to say I feel I have quite a bit of experience and knowledge about this highway, and there are three simple things that would save lives:
1) Lines that actually reflect at night during the rain.
2) Barriers between on-coming traffic in “tricky” sections (barriers would have saved a life on Friday). And…
3) Paying attention. Don’t look at the scenery, don’t mess around with the radio, don’t try to text message your wife at home; you just have to please watch where and how you’re driving and be courteous to other drivers.
Now of my five near misses lines, barriers, and attentive driving would not have prevented all of them, but it would have prevented three or four. That’s a 60 to 80 per cent decrease in close calls for one driver. Isn’t it worth it to take another look at barriers and high-visibility lines?
Notice I haven’t mentioned snow tires. Don’t get me started — mandatory snow tires, too, but I’ll leave that one for another time.
What about the fans?
If you are interested in cheering on our Canadian athletes today or tomorrow in their World Cup races you better start hiking.
In all their wisdom the organizers have decided that if you want to be at the finish line to show your support for our Canadian athletes you should hike up the mountain from Dusty's. As a fan of World Cup Ski Racing I couldn't wait to check out the first day of training on Tuesday. Knowing that the road up to the finish was for sponsors and athletes access only I figured that I would park at the Creekside and get a shuttle up.
Nope, no shuttle. You are more than welcome to strap on your skis, catch a couple lifts and watch the top third of the race from a few different vantage points but if you want to be at the finish to make our Canadian athletes really feel loved you have a whole different experience in store for you. With this event as a run up to the Olympics I can only hope that things will change. In a resort where we constantly strive to provide exceptional service and exceed guest expectations this decision baffles me. Hotels like The Four Season's and The Westin provide a Ski Concierge so that our guests won't have to walk all the way back to their hotel room but if you are a World Cup fan who has travelled from Europe you’re hiking for a half hour. Seniors and the disabled? Good luck.
I'll be at the bottom of the race course today (maybe a little sweaty from the hike) but for some reason I'm betting there will not be more then a couple hundred non-officials there. When the race highlights are broadcast around the ski world in the days to come it will not send the best message that we are ready to put on a world-class event.
Breaking the skier’s code Below is a letter from one of our passholders who collided with another passholder, breaking her leg. I asked for this letter from the offender so we could put it in as a letter to the editor. I think there are quite a few people that read the letters and hopefully this will prevent some injuries by getting a few people to think about The Alpine Responsibility code when they're out riding: "You can't be too careful! Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m.—Hardly anyone in sight and I enter the top of the Dave Murray. What could be better, right? I love riding fast, as we all do in the right circumstances. Then over the last roller and…time stands still and there she was! I thought I had a clear run, I hadn't seen anyone; I make a point of riding slowly when there are people around, so this was a great opportunity, but.... It can happen to you! Take a minute to think of your reaction after being told your friend has been injured in a collision, or your parent, or worse one of your grandparents. Sorry.”
—7 year resident." Submitted by Bob Lynch Mountain Safety Supervisor
I read last week’s letters to the editor with some disdain. While it was nice to welcome the new daycare to Pemberton let us not forget that this newest daycare was happy to take all of the equipment away from the current Pemberton Daycare, located at the community centre and operating since 1995. The parent board of the Pemberton Childcare Society worked with Pemberton Day Care and then left. The partnership ended and the childcare society took all the money raised by the parents of the daycare society, as well as the van and the equipment.
I think that the biggest slap in the face was the PCCS receiving the citizen of the year award from the Chamber. The money that was raised until 2005 was raised through the daycare at the community centre by parents, staff and supporters. The new daycare would not exist had it not been for Pemberton Day Care. To all of the staff at the Pemberton Day Care, thank you for your hard work. Our children have enjoyed the fun and active environment.
Bring midwives to corridor
Squamish Midwives Now is a group of concerned and responsible citizens responding to the dilemma concerning the maternity care choices in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. For over two years, three midwives have been trying to obtain privileges at Squamish General Hospital (SGH), which services the corridor, including Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and surrounding communities. Their request for privileges, though needed and desired by this community, has been unduly delayed and ultimately denied. Now, in order for midwives to receive privileges within the next year at Squamish General Hospital, the hospital has set criteria for midwifery practice that will require funding to be allocated by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) as part of the 2008-2009 budget.
Squamish Midwives Now wants registered midwives to have hospital privileges at SGH, giving them the ability to responsibly practice and offer full-service midwifery care throughout the Sea-to-Sky corridor. We are appealing to the VCHA to seriously consider this request when formulating their upcoming budget. Midwives have been fully integrated into the B.C. medical health care system since January 1998; their services are covered by the Medical Services Plan and funded by the Ministry of Health.
Other rural communities in B.C., like Squamish, do not have onsite access to an obstetrician yet have integrated midwives into their facilities. Families in areas such as Sechelt, Creston, Salt Spring Island and other small communities are accessing local midwives.
It is time that the growing numbers of women in the Sea to Sky have the same access to midwifery care as other women in the province. We deserve a choice in prenatal, delivery and postpartum care for ourselves and our newborns in our own community. We are demanding that we have access to the many benefits of midwifery care: the choice of where we birth our babies, continuity of care, fewer interventions and higher breastfeeding rates. Additionally, the fact that midwifery care can reduce costs for the system (reduced visits to the emergency room, reduced or no hospital stays, lower re-admission rates, etc.) should be a strong motivator to allow midwives to work at Squamish General Hospital (SGH).
There are many families living in or moving to the Sea to Sky. Unfortunately, many women are struggling to secure pre- and post-natal care in these communities, as many family doctors are either not accepting new patients, not providing maternity care, or are soon retiring. If a woman must access care outside the community, or is transferred due to staffing shortages at SGH, she will have to travel an estimated minimum one-hour drive or by ambulance ride from SGH on Highway 99 (known for its natural hazards, road closures and frequent accidents) and will often be placed in the care of an unknown physician. With registered midwives servicing Sea to Sky the burden currently placed on SGH, the medical system and the women of the community would be greatly alleviated. We support the efforts of Squamish Midwives Now and want women to be able to access the care of registered midwives in their own community. If you would like to support this movement, please go to www.midwivesnow.com and sign our online letter of support. Kazuko Hiroe and Christine Gavin-Bartlett
Squamish Midwives Now
Turn down the suck
Ever wonder why there are so few local bands in Whistler? Well, for starters, there is no place for bands to practice. I have been an active musician in this town for 10 years and it has always been a struggle to find somewhere to practice. There is always the option of playing in your rental if it happens to be a house, but you can bet it won't be long ‘til the police arrive. The next option is MY Place, our band practiced there for almost four years paying affordable rates. We were renting the stage out for $25/hour with the agreement that if anyone else wanted to rent it at the normal rate of $100/hour we would get bumped (which was fine), or we could play in one of the smaller practice rooms for $10/hour. Well no more, the new rates are $100/hour for the stage with a two-hour minimum or the small practice room (which is by no means designed for band practices ) for $35/hour. What indie band has that kind of money? We have already lost our local record store and it won't be long before there are no bands left in this town.
Myrtle Philip Community School Parent Advisory Council (MPCS-PAC) held its first, but hopefully annual Valentine’s Disco fundraiser on Feb. 14. All elementary-aged kids in Whistler were invited to this fun, fast and loud event! DJ Steve Jui created a groovy atmosphere for the over 300 kids attending with his great choice of tunes incorporating many requests from the students of MPCS.
We would like to thank Origin Design for their brightly coloured, eye-catching posters, Steve Jui for spinning the tunes, McDonalds Whistler for supplying the water containers and cups for the thirsty party revelers, all the parent volunteers that kept the order and all the students from Spring Creek and Alta Lake schools for attending. We can’t wait until we get to party together again!!
All money raised will be going toward new playground equipment for our intermediary playground.