Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 8th, 2012

Not a waster of tax dollars

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As residents of "The Falls" in Cheakamus Crossing, we consider it important to comment on Cheryl Erickson's March 1 letter in the Pique entitled "Stop Wasting Our Tax Dollars."

Sadly, we belong to the ranks of people whose experience differs markedly from hers. We must spend a lot of time at home and the several months of asphalt plant operations in 2011 were extremely unpleasant, particularly in the mornings and early afternoons. Rather than move as suggested by Ms. Erickson, we are exploring various ways to mitigate the effects of the looming 2012 asphalt season.

Far from recklessly opting to locate downwind of a permanent asphalt plant, we consider that we made careful and reasonable decisions in 2008 and again in 2010, based on trust in information and advice provided by the municipality and the Whistler Development Corporation, as well as simple common sense.

Regardless of its legality, the present situation is not acceptable to many Cheakamus Crossing owners and residents. We are grateful to Tim Koshul and the other volunteers who justifiably exercised their citizens' right to oppose it. Moreover, the presence of the plant and quarry appears to seriously deter potential buyers of the still unsold housing stock and building lots. Consequently, there is a compelling business case for seeking an effective and timely solution.

Council's efforts to resolve this matter will benefit the local community and Whistler as a whole. This is NOT a waste of your tax dollars.

Doug and Joan Deeks

Whistler

'Ignorance is Bliss'

I was surprised and disappointed to read the letter last week from Cheryl Erickson in which she wrote, "(I) can honestly say I barely notice the asphalt plant." (Pique, March 1, 2012)

Cheryl seems to have made a subjective judgment based on her own experiences, which I assume may include a poor olfactory sense or lack of outdoor activity in the neighbourhood during times of asphalt production. (This) leads her to believe that there is no problem in this otherwise beautiful community, whereas other voices on record in the community very much notice the plant's pollution and associated nuisances. The fact that Cheryl herself does not notice a problem does not mean a problem does not exist. I have hours of video that contradict her statement.

She accuses us of having forgotten about the legal papers we signed and that the plant was already in place operating, and was there long before we moved in and a gun wasn't put to our heads.

The agreement mentions the RMOW was in negotiations to move the plant. The RMOW's statement of intent in the buyer's agreement to negotiate a possible move of the plant created a situation that in a town that prides itself on a promise of quality of life would pull out all stops to protect that. Goodness, we had a green mayor too.

The purchase agreement also mentioned that buyers, "may experience dust, noise and odour from the operation." Unlike Cheryl, many people have experienced these things but there was no mention of the toxins we "may" experience from the operation.

I did not forget the contract I signed, as Cheryl implied, as I researched the purchase with the province and was told officially that the plant was a "temporary portable asphalt plant" and shame on me for believing temporary and portable might mean it would move after the Olympic build up.

Planners at the RMOW stated on the record, pre-purchase, that the plant was not zoned for its location and also, just before our second deposits were put down, that the majority of council directed the plant be moved by June 1, 2010, so there was logically an assumption that the negotiations to move the plant were going to be successful. Who would think that a community such as ours would settle for anything less, so my lovely wife and I eagerly laid down our money.

How, as Cheryl has stated, "if it bothered you so much you could have walked away," could we have known it would bother us when we were allowed severely limited access to the site pre purchase? How were buyers expected to know before November 2009 a plant was there when the head community planner himself didn't know it was there, as has been reported widely in the media? No mention of the plant to council in 2004 when deciding where to put this legacy. No mention anywhere of the plants existence in the Legacy Olympic Neighbourhood report binder, or at any of the open house presentations.

As for mine and the community's "complaining" — speaking up stopped $400,000 of taxpayers' money being spent by the RMOW on a proposed upgrade of a very old plant, and it also has saved well over $100,000 and will continue to save in the future, as paving contracts have finally gone to tender on asphalt, rather than as the sole-source contacts of the past for the first time in 30 years.

I only respond to this letter as Cheryl specifically mentioned my name. My plan Cheryl, after the announcement last week that there would be a new course of action and no appeal, was to stay involved in the community I love, but recommend that due to a busy life and our first child coming in two weeks to nominate someone else as spokesperson.

I thank Cheryl for bringing her opinion to the public discussion as it shows that some are still not fully informed in the community even after years of intensive media coverage on this topic, and her letter will hopefully contribute to a more informed community.

Tim Koshul

Whistler

Generosity recognized

(On Feb.18) my husband, myself, a friend and his young daughter, who were visiting us from Aspen, headed to the hill. Sierra and I got into the Wizard line at 7:15 a.m. Her dad, David, had to drive up to Base II, park, and ski down. That 10-minute delay put him way back in the queue — maybe 30 chairs worth.

While we stood waiting for the lift to open I took a photo of Sierra. Beside me, the young man making up our lift-line foursome offered to take a photo of Sierra and I together. He noticed me waving to someone further back in the line and asked me if we were a party of three. I told him that Sierra's dad, David, was waaay back there. Without a second of hesitation this guy offered to switch places so that David could be on the same chair with us.

What!? This was the first big dump in a month and someone standing in second chair position offers to switch places with someone who was back where the maze split? This was a first for me. I told the young man that I couldn't ask him to do that, to which he replied, "You didn't ask me, I offered. I'm out here almost every day. It's not a big deal." Well, actually, it is a big deal, Andrew. You're thoughtfulness and generosity is pretty much unique in the world of Whistler Powder Day Agro.

Andrew told me he works at Mountainside Lodge. Andrew is a snowboarder with a beard and I think I remember a French accent. I don't know his last name, but there are probably lots of people who will recognize him from that description and I want everyone to know of his generous act.

Marilyn Manso

Whistler

Sustainability should be supported

I am concerned by recent pieces in the Pique (Feb.23, "RMI, Centre for Sustainability to be reviewed by council") and the Question (Nick Davies' opinion March 1, 2012).

One of the key reasons I was so happy to move to Whistler was its work on sustainability and the Whistler 2020 vision. As a volunteer on a Whistler 2020 task force, I could see the potential for progress through collaborating with different key stakeholders.

The opportunities for residents to participate in the direction of the community were inspiring. However, prior to the last election I was disappointed by some "letters to the editor" critical of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability that were based on misperceptions, and not the facts. I hope these are not the comments that Mayor Wilhelm-Morden was referencing in her comment that, "it's something that we have heard from the community about" (Pique Feb.23, 2012).

Last week, I attended the Building Sustainable Communities Conference in Kelowna, attended by many municipal politicians and staff from across B.C. There Whistler is recognized as a leader in sustainability. Whistler has made many gains through its work to date on sustainability (the Whistler 2020 vision, solid partnerships, solar hot water at Meadow Park, employee housing, the compost facility, the ReBuild It Centre and LEED buildings to name a few) that have garnered the respect and are envy of other communities wanting to follow this path.

When it is more important than ever to be furthering sustainability issues (which include economic concerns as well as social and environmental), this is the time to strengthen our commitment to sustainability systems and improve them, rather than diminishing them.

Can the Whistler 2020 process be improved? Certainly. Is there still a way to go? Of course.  Should the process be transparent and accountable? Naturally.

However, throughout the OCP process I heard Whistler's citizens asking for enhancements to our community's sustainability.  I hope that Whistler council will heed that input and affirm their commitment to both the Whistler 2020 vision and the Centre for Sustainability.

Sue Maxwell

Whistler

No more 'loaner' pandas, please

Last week, I received another pamphlet from our local MP, John Weston, praising the Harper Conservative's delivery of clean air, water and energy to all Canadian families. Is this a joke? It's not even April Fool's Day yet.

When I think of Canada's environment, the Tories come to mind, but none of it positive. Instead, I'm reminded of the Tories' failed environmental policies like withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, slashing hundreds of jobs at Environment Canada, muzzling scientists who come up with opposing viewpoints, claiming that the tar sands are "clean" and discrediting the public review process, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline review.

The Tories also advocated for using pristine lakes as private garbage dumps, by allowing mining companies to use a loophole in the Fisheries Act called "Schedule 2" to destroy clean watersheds, like Fish Lake near Williams Lake. The list goes on.

Prime Minister Harper has signaled that the next federal budget will come with severe cuts to areas like environmental monitoring, fisheries and green energy initiatives, with plans to short-circuit Canada's environmental review for projects like the Enbridge pipeline, intended to speed up project approval and drastically limit public participation.

Instead of this rapid race to the bottom, please reinstate Canada's strong federal environmental laws to protect the air, water and land we need to be healthy, and make us global leaders not laggards in the environmental sphere. And please, no more "loaner" pandas or taxpayer-funded propaganda.

Pina Belperio

Whistler

An open letter to Sea to Sky parents and guardians

As you are aware, Sea to Sky teachers joined with our colleagues in a province-wide full-scale withdrawal of service for March 5, 6, and 7. We wish you to know that we take this action reluctantly and only after careful consideration. Despite our efforts to keep the impact of our job action to a minimum, and reach a negotiated settlement through either independent mediation or binding arbitration, the provincial government has instead elected to use heavy-handed legislation.

We have decided that we can no longer stand by and allow more damage to public education. Bill 22, known as the "Education Improvement Act," goes well beyond the "net zero mandate" set by the government, and sets the stage for even worsening conditions in our classrooms. This bill:

• does not restore class size limits and guaranteed support services for students with special needs that the B.C. Supreme Court ruled were illegally legislated away in 2002

• Removes minimal class size limits that were contained in previous legislation known as Bill 33. Beginning next year, there are no firm class size limits for Grades 4-12

• Removes even the most minimal consideration for services to students with special needs.

• Attempts to silence teachers by imposing heavy fines and removing our job security.

• Removes our ability to choose the best way to plan and deliver lessons and assessments that are appropriate for each child.

• Will allow for a continuation of funding cuts. B.C. school districts will receive a $100 million cut for 2012-13.

We understand that this is a difficult time and we appreciate your understanding and support. Please visit us while we are outside of our schools to receive more information.

Beth Miller, SSTA president

Squamish

Buyer Beware

I received an insert in my Fortis bill advising me that I may be eligible for a $300 rebate if I upgraded my fireplace. When I went to apply for the rebate I noticed on the very last line of eligible homes that literally the only place not eligible was Whistler.

Included are the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. It would be interesting to know whether they sent these inserts to the "north."

It is also odd that a community that uses so much gas (it's cold here) would be denied the incentive to upgrade to a more efficient product. When I asked the Fortis manager why they would send a bill insert to an ineligible area she replied..."a third party sends our stuffers; we can't control where the stuffers go; and our customers need to make sure they are eligible." Buyer Beware!

Cheryl Springman

Whistler

Tuna safe to eat

I wanted to reach out on the bullet in your article, "How to avoid 'slow death by rubber duck,'" that says, "Avoid mercury; pregnant women especially should avoid tuna." (Pique, March 1 2012)

While pregnant and breastfeeding women are guided to avoid four exotic and rarely eaten species of higher-mercury seafood — shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish — tuna is not one of them. The brand new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans clearly state that pregnant and breastfeeding women can safely eat all kinds of cooked tuna, including up to six ounces/week of white albacore tuna. More importantly, this population is encouraged to eat NO LESS than eight ounces of a variety of seafood per week because it has been scientifically shown to boost baby brain development.

Moms-to-be in the U.S. currently eat less than one-quarter of this target amount for optimal health.

Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD National Fisheries Institute

Oahu, Hawaii

Under the G....47!

"Spectacular Event" and "Great Family Night" were some of the comments we received on the March 1 Bingo Night at Spring Creek School. With close to 300 in attendance we raised over $5,500 towards our students' outdoor education programs for a sustainable environment.

A combined effort was put forth from École la Passerelle and Spring Creek Community School Parent Advisory Councils. We would like to thank the following generous sponsors; Nester's Market, Sea to Sky Celebrations, Flagsunlimited.com, Bounce Trampoline Park, Whistler Dental, Summit Sport, Dairy Queen, Precision Painting, Whistler Real Estate — Elizabeth Chaplin and Dave Brown, Double Diamond Law, Coast Mountain Mechanical, Four Seasons Resort, Across the Creek Organics, Whistler Cooks, Delta Hotels, The Loft, Wildwood, Nita Lake Lodge, Blackcomb Liquor Store, Scandinave Spa, Ruby Tuesday, Ziptrek, Whoola Toys, Dinky Dawgs, Source for Sports, Splitz Grill, Boston Pizza, Fathom Stone, IGA, YYOGA, Andrea Peiffer RMT, Tumblewoods, Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler Eye Clinic, Whistler Sliding Centre, Julie Nash — Arbonne, Catherine Trueman — Stella & Dot, WMSC, Sabre, Upper Village Market,  Ralph Forsyth, Irene Wood — Norwex, Heather Prohaska — Usborne Books, Sass Designs, Kahuna Paddleboards, The Lift, as well as all the wonderful families who contributed to making our amazing community family BINGO Night a huge success!

Tanya Goertzen, Christiane Loring, Janis McKenzie, Kerri Fletcher, and Angela Morris

SCCS PAC Fundraising Committee

Wind Farming speeds up

For most people in B.C., Thursday, February 16, 2012 was just another day. But in the annals of B.C.'s energy sector it was an historic day marked by the official completion of the Dokie wind farm project near Chetwynd.

The Dokie wind farm is now B.C.'s largest wind farm, supplying enough cost-effective renewable green energy annually to power nearly 30,000 average B.C. households. If that same amount of energy had been generated by burning coal it would have resulted in close to 300,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

In terms of cost-effectiveness and well-proven technology, wind energy ranks right alongside run-of-river energy as one of the most cost-effective renewable energy sources available with one of the smallest environmental footprints of any form of energy generation.

Moreover, wind energy and run-of-river energy complement each other perfectly because wind energy peaks in the stormy winter months when hydro resources are typically at their low point. And neither energy technology harms salmon as traditional hydro dams have in the past.

If it were not for B.C.'s incredibly abundant hydro resources, we would probably have tapped B.C.'s equally abundant wind energy and other renewable green energy resources much sooner than now. The fact that we are now doing so, and diversifying B.C.'s renewable energy portfolio, deserves not only acknowledgement but also a hearty two thumbs up.

David Field, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy

Burnaby