LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Darwin destruction was wrong

Editor,

I have been a resident of Squamish for over 17 years and have seen several stupid acts take place that have tarnished Squamish's image to the outside world, but the destruction of Darwin's Bridge to my mind takes the cake. Darwin's Bridge was a simple log crossing of Ring Creek that enabled mountain bikers easy acess to the Powerhouse Plunge or as an ending to coming down the Ring Creek Rip.

On either Sunday afternoon or Monday before 5 p.m. some individual took it upon themselves to chainsaw this log crossing in two. While this act of vandalism possibly made them feel good for some reason or other about themselves the impact of this act is far more reaching.

The Gearjammer mountain bike race with up to 500 racers and pre-riders is now in jeopardy as this crossing was in the middle of the race course. The 800 racers of the Test of Metal, many of whom are pre-riding the course, would ride up the Garibaldi Park Road over this log and down the Plunge as a short pre-ride of the race course. Now they are faced with only the 9 Mile climb as an access point. For the hundreds and possibly thousands of local and tourist riders who used this crossing each year as an access point for the Plunge, Squamish's signature trail, their access is now denied.

SORCA is currently starting the process with MOTSA to put in another crossing in time for Gearjammer. If this is possible once again the increasingly limited local vollie time and a community groups dollars are going to be spent replacing an amenity that vandals have destroyed. One senseless act, less than two minutes of running a chainsaw and the ability to impact thousands of people's recreation experience in The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. Great message about Squamish eh?

I hope that who ever did this feels better about themselves now. Through guilt by assumption I sincerely hope for all parties concerned that whoever did this has not rekindled the embers of a dying user conflict into the flames of a "war in the woods" this comming summer. Open dialogue, compromise and discussion leads to solutions. Vandalism leads to conflict and conflict leads to someone losing. Mountain bikers are not losers!

Cliff Miller

President, Squamish Off-Road Cycling Assoication

Peasants or proud Canadians?

Editor,

Are our rivers ours or not? The Ashlu River is the pivotal point in the future of British Columbia's water and power resources. Will the endless resources of our rivers remain in public hands or not?

The Ashlu is one of over 500 rivers in B.C. which are stealth fully moving, along with our public power grid, into a few private hands in a process which if continued will see control over the environments, the power, the income and all of the soft values lost for all time. It is called globalization and you are invited to join us to stop it happening to the Ashlu and the rest of our rivers. Water is a basic need and in B.C. also a power source. We are so lucky to have it. This is the leading edge of the trade wars you've heard much about.

Those who would capture our endless green energy talk of community benefits, there are none, or the say the power is for BC, it is not or we are net importers of power, which means what? Deceitful statements or other lies get you to look away while your finest most valuable asset is taken away from you. None of the limitless millions of dollars the Ashlu could produce would go to you. That's part of it, as you can't believe they'd do that to you. One job for a night watchman for the Ashlu and a $10,000 water licence.

In a multi-year public process ending in January 2005 the local governments and the public decided against a private power project on the Ashlu. As the corporations are looking for a clean sweep of all of our hydro-capable rivers, missing the Ashlu was too much for the greedy to bear.

The Ashlu applicant, Ledcor, with a number of river applications is a very large contributor to the Liberal Party of B.C. Two weeks ago the Liberal government passed a law removing local governments and the public from input into any kind of private power project on Crown land anywhere in the province. While all of the municipalities in the province have now joined to fight the provincial government on behalf of their publics, Ledcor employs war-like tactics against us. The provincial government just voted themselves the right to give away our public assets with no return to you. Are you a peasant in your own land or a proud Canadian with the spirit to fight?

We reach out to all to join and support your local governments who are rallying to fight for your rights to your water and power. It takes time and time is short. No wonder citizens are outraged. The outrage is understandable as the legislation is outrageous. Please come to the Squamish Adventure Centre at 4:30 p.m. this Sunday (June 3) for free public water and all the information you can swallow.

Tom Rankin

Upper Squamish Valley

SPR makes sense

Editor,

Most of us recognize the importance of natural vegetation buffers along creeks and streams. Healthy riparian buffers keep water cool (which is important for fish and other critters living in and along streams); keep water clean (by stopping contaminants reaching the water, and people like living next to healthy waterways); control erosion (by protecting both water quality and private property), and; feed life into the streams (by dropping natural litter, e.g. bugs, leaves, twigs, and occasionally coarse woody debris). Scientists have determined that between 15- and 30-metre buffers are required to maintain water quality as well as bug, bird, amphibian, and fish populations.

Many people don't know that riparian buffers also add to property value (for a convincing discussion around this issue, see Living on the Edge: A Handbook for Waterfront Living by Sarah Kipp and Clive Callaway).

The Streamside Protection Regulations (SPR) were agreed to by federal, provincial, and municipal governments. The new Riparian Area Regulations (RAR) were mandated (read "unilaterally imposed") by the provincial government, and have not received approval from the Federation of BC Municipalities or acceptance from Fisheries and Oceans.

Municipalities have the choice; they can adopt either SPR or RAR. Many municipalities have already adopted SPR; only one has adopted RAR. One problem with the RAR is the total lack of local review and monitoring provisions. In addition, there are serious concerns regarding the ability of RAR to adequately protect streamside buffers. Until these problems are addressed, it is logical to adopt the SPR, which, though not perfect, is familiar and generally accepted.

Adopting SPR would address the developers' stated wish for certainty ("Developers want input on stream regulations", The Chief, May 26, p. A7). When the flaws have been addressed, then consider adopting the RAR, not before.

Meg Fellowes

President, Squamish Environmental Conservation Society

Jack Cooley

Co-chair, Squamish Stream Keepers

Edith Tobe

Executive Director, Squamish River Watershed Society

Let's hear both sides of the story

Editor,

Thanks for initiating the discussion about the provincial government's change in environmental policy regarding Streamside Protection Regulations (SPR) in B.C.

Thanks for the update from the Squamish Urban Development Institude (UDI) satellite group on the developers' confusion and position with respect to the transition from old to new regulations.

Thanks also for noting that this confusion is of the development community's own making. It is as a result of their intense (UDI) lobbying, that provincial guidelines for the protection of fish bearing watercourses are being relaxed - and along with it the attendant protection of habitat for all other species (birds, insects, mammals, humans, etc.) that depend upon the greenways and riparian zones along our creeks, streams and rivers for food and clean air, water and soil.

Could builders' frustrations actually stem from the fact that the District is choosing to enforce old rules - the more environmentally responsible and protective SPR - rather than immediately implementing the new developer-friendly Riparian Areas Regulations (RAR)?

Further research might indicate that the District's reluctance is well-founded. There has been strong resistance by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as environmental officers, planners and legal experts in most B.C. municipalities to the RAR because of its numerous scientific, legal, financial and planning ambiguities. Only one of 105 municipalities in B.C. has adopted RAR. Twelve or more municipalities in the Lower Mainland have continued with the clearer SPR guidelines, ones that developers have followed for years - obviously profitably, as evidenced by the ongoing building boom in our province.

Let's put this all in perspective by noting that Pacific salmon populations have declined some 90 per cent over the last 100 years. Squamish's bird populations have declined upwards of 70 per cent over the last 30 years and no numbers are tallied with respect to healthy tree canopy loss within the community and its effects on our air, water and soil quality.

A cynic might view the new regulations as a windfall land grab by over enthusiastic developers at the expense of a healthy community environment - if not shown otherwise.

So, in the interest of balanced reporting, would The Chief give us the opinions of scientists - fisheries biologist, habitat ecologists, etc. - with respect to old vs. new rules? These folks might have a little more insight than developers into the effectiveness of the new environmental guidelines at safeguarding habitat and wildlife. Similarly, it behooves the Chief to question why other municipalities have not adopted the RAR approach.

Perhaps The Chief would also provide readers with the salient points of both the Streamside Protection Regulations and the Riparian Areas Regulations, so the community knows what the real issues are. The new regulations are very important pieces of legislation. They will have a huge influence on the health of Squamish's natural environment for generations to come.

For the record: despite all the uncertainties and in opposition to all other councillors and the staff recommendation to follow precautionary principles, our mayor voted wholeheartedly to adopt the RAR when the issue came before council on May 2.

Nicola Kozakiewicz

Squamish

More jobs needed downtown, not BIA

Editor,

Re: Business Improvement Area

I would like to comment on the above-mentioned subject, which some well-meaning people are suggesting.

In the last 10 years we have lost a number of businesses in the downtown area, as evidenced by a number of empty stores. These were prosperous businesses at one time. The loss of business was created by the shutdown in a large part of the forest industry and BC Rail, as well as a number of smaller employment concerns (B.C. Hydro. courthouse, Highways etc.) which cut back their operations in Squamish. People moved out of town, which reduced business that used to be done in the downtown area (and now Woodfibre).

The only way the downtown businesses will prosper is by having people move back to Squamish with well-paying jobs - permanent jobs.

The current construction activity seems to give us the appearance of good times but unfortunately this is very cyclical and cannot be sustained. The advocates of the BIA program believe they can improve business downtown with various promotions, but until we increase our local payrolls there will not be enough money available to be spent to make businesses successful. I trust our council will have enough common sense to reject the BIA project.

Wilf Dowad

Squamish

Need grows at Food Bank

Editor,

I was fortunate enough to attend the Canadian Association of Food Banks Conference in Vancouver and as a result have many new and challenging ideas for the community, businesses, clubs and the District of Squamish.

Although our number of clients is tiny compared to the representatives from Toronto or Calgary, we still have people who need help each and every month. In Squamish we help roughly 180 adults and 140 children. Whatever your situation we are all entitled to the same rights, food, shelter and clothing.

In Canada, each month, 800,000 people need to use Food Banks. Forty per cent of all children in Canada need food from Food Banks, Breakfast Clubs etc.

There are so many reasons why people need some extra help. Mainly it is because they do not receive enough to live on to pay rent, buy food, pay utilities etc.

Whether they are receiving Income Assistance, disability pension, are under the care of the Mental Health Department or have no income at all, they need to know that Food Banks are there to add a little to their table...that is what we are here for. To help them get by.

The Squamish Food Bank Society is fortunate to have some regular community and business support, but we still spend $1,500 per month to purchase products for distribution. Other food banks are lucky enough to have Kraft or some other manufacturer in their town and get huge donations from these companies. We have no one.

We have never turned anyone away with nothing but there have been times we have come pretty close and hunger is never far away.

So starting in the month of June, we will be opening our doors twice per month, on the first and third Wednesdays, at the United Church Hall on Fourth Avenue, at 11:30 a.m.

It is certainly not easy for some of those 180 adults to line up on a cold, wet morning to get some food to help for the next few days and with the summer vacation coming we will be seeing a lot of the 140 children that are claimed line up too.

Can you imagine driving by and seeing your former colleague, sister or cousin lined up there at 9.15 a.m. waiting for us to open the door at 11.30 a.m.? Especially if they are forced to bring their children too...your grandchildren, nephew or niece.

The Squamish Food Bank needs your help and support. We need cash, food and an empty storage facility where we can install freezers so that we can start receiving donations from the B.C. Food Bank Association. We need donations of gas for our van (which once again needs repairs), we need produce, meat and toiletries as well as the normal tuna, soups and beans.

Do I think I will get my wish list? You bet I do! Squamish is known for its community spirit and for helping those in need. The 180 adults and 140 children are all part of this wonderful community whether they live in a big house in the Highlands where the breadwinner has just been laid off or are living in a car or under a tarp in the bush.There are so many way to help us, instead of birthday gifts ask for donations (some youngsters have already done this) include us as a benefactor of your event, the list is endless but not the line of hungry people.

Please if you have any way of helping us help others call me, Joan Forry, at 604-898-1776. Our mailing address is Squamish Food Bank Society, Box 207 Garibaldi Highlands and thank you in advance. I know I'll hear from you.

Joan Forry

Squamish Food Bank

Give rec use of Crown Land its due

Editor,

I don't know if it is an indication of things to come or simply the actions of a considerate machine operator. Whatever the case may be, I was very pleasantly surprised at how the road builder for a logging operation working a cut block above Alice Lake re-established the various mountain biking trail heads that the recent road work had obliterated. By doing so, the two popular trails ('Made in the Shade' and 'Ed's Bypass') are once again passable and being enjoyed by countless riders every day.

As a long-time advocate of our local trails and a regular recreational user of the Crown Lands that surround Squamish I have so often been dismayed at the lack of regard for the recreational values of the surrounding forest in the logging prescriptions devised by the Ministry of Forests. In the past, the trail using community has simply turned the other cheek as trails were lost and/or access to recreational areas was denied for lengthy periods. Given that most of the trails were unsanctioned to start with and access routes are often old de-activated logging roads as it is, the trail users felt they had few grounds to complain. Moreover the recreational user's opinion was never sought nor expected.In the past few years, now that Ministry of Forests' BC Timber Sales Division has set their sights on assorted parcels of Crown land immediately adjacent and sometimes within the District of Squamish the competing land use interests are becoming a lot more contentious. The Squamish Off Road Cycling Association's stance vis-à-vis the logging of the Powerhouse Plunge trail is an example of what I consider a long-overdue rejection of the way things were done in the past.

The thoughtful machine operator's simple and inexpensive gesture that respects the long standing recreational use of the forests above Alice Lake should become the new norm. The recreational community is more than willing to respect short term closures for safety reasons and in the interest of operational efficiency. Similarly, with a small outlay of time and energy, the logging contractor can do much to facilitate ongoing recreational use.

Now that environmental, wildlife and aesthetic (visual sight lines) considerations are mandatory aspects of the 'new' forestry, it is essential, especially in the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, that recreational use of Crown Land be accorded the importance its due.

Jim Harvey

Squamish

Happy ending to stolen bike story

Editor,

On the evening of Tuesday, May 23 I had my bike stolen from me as it was in my family's carport where I thought it would be secure. Between 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. is when the person who took my bike decided to make his / her move. I cannot begin to describe the feeling I had when I realized it was stolen, and I wondered how anyone could do such a thing.

I ride my bike everyday practically and it is my source of transportation. I also use my bike when volunteering for the Teen Test as well as the Test of Metal. Not to mention the Gear Jammer, Squamish Triathlon, Cheakamus Challenge, etc. My bike is my most valuable possession since it took me four months to save up enough to buy it, and it provides many memories of some really amazing times.

I called our local RCMP Detachment and reported my bike stolen. They were really helpful by taking down my information. Finally around 10:30 p.m. I received a call from the RCMP asking me if I can give them a serial number for the bike. I had it written down and after a few moments, I called the RCMP back and gave them the number for the bike. Well after waiting until 12:00 a.m. I received a call from a police officer who had great news for me. He had my bike and the person who had stolen it in custody.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank our local Squamish RCMP and give them credit for a job well done, as anyone here in town can tell you that a stolen bike is rarely ever recovered. They did an impeccable job in only two hours time, and I learned that they really do deserve more praise than this community or myself gives them.

I learned two things from my ordeal. Number one, no matter where your bike is unless inside your home, lock it up! Number two, do not hesitate or wait to write down the serial number of your bike and keep in a safe place! The lock would more than likely have made the person walk away without my bike, and since the person stole my bike I was able to identify it because of the serial number.

Thanks again Squamish RCMP!

Michael Enders

Squamish

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