Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for the week of April 2nd


New environment battleground

The March 19, 2015 edition of the Pique Newsmagazine featured the "Science Matters" column by David Suzuki, which acknowledges, "cities cover only two per cent of the world's land area but produce 60 per cent of CO2 emissions — including a significant proportion from urban transportation, as people commute to school and work on increasingly crowded roads and transit networks."

Therefore, for any of those residents of Metro Vancouver who have been prompted to set up a new "environmental battleground" within the community of Squamish, my home since 1993, stay where you live and act locally first on the environmental problems of your own urban communities.

I am respectful of local Squamish First Nation members of Skwomesh Action in their Sunday, March 29 protest against the LNG woddfibre plant. They are entitled.

I am not amused by the meddlesome and dramatized exaggerations of non-residents, such as Eoin Finn from Vancouver and member of My Sea To Sky, who believes the opposition to Woodfibre LNG and Fortis BC's plans will incite large numbers of protesters to demonstrate here, foreseeing "this is going to be pretty much Burnaby Mountain at Squamish" (24 Hours, March 17).

It is his actions and those of a handful of vocal opponents that will accomplish this objective. For Mr. Finn to encourage illegal actions against the project proponents by suggesting damage to property owned by Woodfibre LNG and its potential partners and suppliers demonstrates his intent to disrupt and promote anarchy in Squamish.

The organized opposition encourages people who neither reside in Squamish, nor support businesses or community groups locally, to come to Squamish with the goal of bullying and intimidating others. Their spokespeople, such as Eoin Finn, do not live in Squamish and have dubious expert "credibility" due to careers absent of any experience in the energy engineering industry.

As a consultant and engineering services supplier to the energy, minerals, and environmental process industries for 25 years in B.C., I am obligated to correct much of the baseless allegations about what Woodfibre LNG and Fortis BC's natural gas pipeline would do to the Squamish Estuary and Howe Sound.

I would point out that the pipeline's proposed route largely follows the path of the existing Squamish service line to the Sunshine Coast, which has safely operated in our community and underneath the estuary for 25 years, "out of sight, out of mind" until recently.

If Fortis BC's expansion project is approved, they plan to install the pipeline as deep as 70 metres below the Squamish River and south of the existing pipeline, via directional-horizontal drilling and trenchless construction, an environmentally benign method of installation.

Environmental, safety and community concerns need to be assessed objectively and acted upon to mitigate and resolve perceived project issues.

Sustainable growth and jobs associated with the project also deserve the merit of economic diversification for a community in great need.

I have engaged in dialogue with all representatives of Woodfibre LNG and Fortis BC over the past 14 months with questions and concerns. I hope more Squamish residents will take the time to visit their community office and do the same.

Craig D. McConnell

Geoscience Analysis Technology & Enviro-Guard Technology (Energy, Mineral & Environmental Process Industry Analysis)

Jackrabbit Johannsen's legacy lives on

Great article (on Jackrabbit Johannsen, Pique, March 26), but if you'd dug a little deeper into his story you would have found out that the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

"Jackrabbit's" grandson now lives in Vancouver and eats, sleeps and breathes skiing, working for Whistler Blackcomb, and has done so for the last 15 years!

Erik Austin is a shining example of a man with a true and ingrained passion for skiing just like his granddad. To Erik there is never a "bad day" on the mountain and his monster grin and "follow me, I know where to go attitude" is always good for a great day on the slopes.

Just thought you should know the legend lives on...

Dawn Kingston

West Vancouver

Charge for plastic to reduce it

I am pleased that (Pique editor) Clare Ogilvie has brought to our attention the issue of plastic waster (Pique, March 19).

But rather than focusing our attention on improving the recovery and the recycling of the material, I believe we ought to devote more effort to limiting its runaway production and consumption.

To accomplish that there is a simple remedy: economic instruments to achieve demand management.

Any first-year economics student can tell you that when a service or product is perceived to be cheap, or free, its demand continues to grow indefinitely.

Free parking is an example. That's why in North America we've paved a surface area greater than that of the entire island of Newfoundland!

Plastics are evidently another such product.

While we wait for the enactment of an international plastic tax (China might object!), there are two measures immediately within the grasp of most jurisdictions. Plastic bottles should bear a minimum 25-cent deposit, and all merchants should be forbidden from dispensing free bags (neither paper or plastic).

If each bag were to cost 25 cents, suddenly consumers would finally remember to bring along to the grocery store one or two of the 20 to 30 free cloth bags that have accumulated over the past few years of supposed environmental awareness.

Tom DeMarco


Bald is back, baby!

Whistler Friends Society held the annual Whistler Balding for Dollars event on Saturday at the GLC, and the Whistler community once again came out to show its support for kids with cancer at BC Children's Hospital.

Eighteen people found themselves under the clippers, and are now sporting flashy new shiny heads for a good cause.

Balding for Dollars is a province-wide fundraiser in support of kids with cancer at BC Children's Hospital. Each year Whistlerites make a commitment to enhance the lives of kids suffering from cancer by collecting pledges to have their heads shaved in front of a loud and encouraging crowd at the GLC.

This year that group of participants included five young boys who believe in helping others, often people they don't even know.

The event raised $25,396 through online and in-person fundraising efforts, and a silent auction at the event. This year, 2015, is the 13th year of holding Balding for Dollars here in Whistler and since that first year we have now raised over $246,000!

Of course this event would never happen without the ongoing support of our sponsors who donate a variety of things to make it a success. To each of them we say a huge thank you: Garibaldi Lift Co (GLC), Blackcomb Barber Shop, Mountain FM, Whistler Question, Crystal Lodge and Suites, Walsh Restoration, and all the businesses that donated items for the silent auction.

We look forward to shaving a bunch more heads and raising tons of cash for kids with cancer again in spring 2016!

Wendy and Dave Clark

Founders, Whistler Friends Society

Whistler Reads turns 10

In celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Whistler Reads this past weekend, there are a few people and organizations I'd like to thank for their support over the years.

Thanks to Lukas Lundin, Anastasia and Rod Nadeau, Keith and Lindsay Lambert, Angela Perzow and Chris Pelz, Anne and Gary Popma, Andrée Janyk (and past municipal councillors), Patrick McCurdy and the FAG's and Rotary Club, Larisa Valentin, Dee Raffo, Dan Elis — Armchair Books, Marta Mikita — Eco Sodastream, Stella Harvey and the Vicious Circle, Doti Niedermayer and WAC staff, the arts and entertainment journalists who cover our events at the Pique and Question, and the Whistler Public Library staff.

Also thanks to the hard working people at The Westin, Four Seasons, Nita Lake Lodge, Fairmont Chateau, the Path Gallery, Trattoria and La Cantina. Plus the more than 1,000 people who make up our membership who read, buy books, debate, discuss and learn from each other.

And of course thanks to the authors who inspired us with their amazing books and stories — many of whom have sent in anniversary greetings by both email and video, which will be posted to our website: www.bookbuffet.com.

Over the past decade this community has come together to experience an array of book-themed events: author readings, close discussions, expert speakers, panel discussions, political skits and elaborate costume-themed parties.

We've hosted prize-winning authors, read fascinating translated works, built a book art sculpture, debated topics like: the economy, climate change, terrorism, our food supply, musical genius, polar exploration, the art world, brain physiology, political systems, world history and war. We've supported Whistler scribes and broadened our horizons with writers from China, Norway, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, India, the U.K. and America.

WR is a citywide reading program with community at its heart. We take the solitary act of reading and transform topics into a stimulating forum of discussion with perspectives pooled from our collective life experiences.

The goal? To enrich our lives, foster community and increase understanding. Sharing these experiences with you over the past decade — along with wine, music and laughter, has been a distinct pleasure.

Paula Shackleton


LNG cooling system

I read with some concern recent comments attributed to Dave Brown of the Squamish- Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee regarding Woodfibre LNG's impact on marine water quality (Pique, March 26).

As the project's community relations manager, I would like to assure your readers that Woodfibre LNG's seawater cooling system is being designed to minimize the potential effects on marine water quality and on marine plants and animals. I think it's also important to point out that the system is being designed to meet, and where possible, exceed federal and provincial marine standards.

Specifically in relation to Mr. Brown's letter, the intake has been designed to be in deep water, well below the layer where marine organisms, including herring and juvenile salmonids, are found in greatest numbers. Within 10 metres of the seawater cooling system diffuser, the temperatures of the discharged water will only be one degree Celsius above ambient temperature. The detailed modelling of the seawater cooling system shows that the zone of increased temperature will not grow over time.

Onshore, we are committed to working to protect, and where possible, enhance freshwater habitat in the Mill and Woodfibre creeks that are sited on the Woodfibre property.

As your readers will know, the Woodfibre site has been home to industrial activity since the early 1900s. Our project will mean significant cleanup and remediation at the site. Much of this work has already been completed, and Woodfibre LNG intends to continue with cleanup activities such as the removal of approximately 3,000 creosote-coated piles from the waterfront. And as the Squamish Streamkeepers will tell you, creosote is toxic to herring.

Woodfibre LNG is committed to being a good steward of the environment and that includes removing wood waste from the site's waterfront and ensuring the entire site is cleaned up to meet the industrial standards of today.

John French

Community Relations ManagerWoodfibre LNG

Whistler Balding for Dollars

We want to send out a big thank you to all our family and friends that gave so generously to Nathan Lee's Whistler Balding for Dollars fundraising efforts.

We want to thank Mike Walsh for his generous donations and always supporting this great event.

Thank you to Nesters for allowing and helping us to set up Nathan's cookie and lemonade stand on Friday, and to everyone in our fabulous Whistler community that came out in support.

Thank you to Mountain FM, the Question and the Pique, GLC, Dave and Wendy Clark, and an extra thank you to Dr. Denton Hirsh for initially inspiring Nathan to "Shave for the Brave!"  

The Lee Family


On the Origin of Species' Feelings

It was interesting to read Judy Stockton's letter last week (Pique, March 19). To be honest, at first I actually thought her letter was intended as satire. But I think she's serious. It blows me away when people have this Disneyland notion of the natural world. I really don't think a lion considers the feelings of a gazelle as it rips it apart. I also don't think a loa loa worm considers the feeling of a child in West Africa as it burrows through that child's eye, causing blindness.

And here's something else for you to ponder. Researchers in North Dakota set up "nest cams" over the nests of songbirds. They expected to see a lot of nestlings and eggs get taken by ground squirrels, foxes, and badgers. Squirrels hit 13 nests, but other meat-eaters made a poor showing. Foxes and weasels only took one nest each. Know what fearsome animal outdid either of those two sleek, resourceful predators? White-tailed deer. That's right. Bambi. (Here's a link if you don't believe me: www.npwrc.usgs.gov/news/press/ontape.htm).

The natural world is amazing and full of wonder and has to be respected and preserved. But it's also brutal, vicious and completely unforgiving and uncaring of feelings.

So trust me when I say this — if you bump into a hungry grizzly while hiking through the woods, it isn't going to think that it might've startled you and what your feelings might be on that matter. The only thought going through its head will be "Oh rad, I'm having human for lunch."

Victor Lezu


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