Letters to the Editor

Letters

Editor,Three weeks ago a group of seven to 10 dirt bikers went in to a portion of the Far Side trail in Crumpit Woods and seriously damaged a newly created mountain bike trail that was the result of over 500 hours of volunteer effort, virtually rendering the trail unrideable to mountain bikers.

As this trail is an important part of the Test of Metal bike race, SORCA volunteers mobilized this past Saturday afternoon and completed over 50 hours of volunteer repair work on a cold and rainy day to try and return the trail to a rideable condition.

While out riding on the same trail a day later, I discovered that another dirt bike had gone and seriously damaged the entire Far Side trail, including the newly repaired section as well as another trail (Seven Stitches). I couldn't believe my eyesI don't know if this rider simply made a mistake by going into these trails or didn't care, but the end result was the same. The spinning, rototilling action of a throttle induced rear knobby tire on a single dirt bike has created more damage in one ride than over 50,000 mountain bikers have in ten years - this is no exaggeration. More importantly, this repeated damage - twice in three weeks - may have damaged it to the point that closing the trail may be the only way to repair it. And even if it can be repaired, another dirt bike on a wet day could destroy these trails forever - that's how fragile these trails are.

So what's the solution here? First, in a perfect world, the rider who created the damage should stand up and take responsibility for his/her actions. If this person actually helped to repair the damage he/she might realize how much work goes in to maintaining these trails and would think twice before ripping it up. Then again, they may just not care. It's hard to believe but a quick throttle twist on a dirt bike can create several hour's worth of repair work.

Second, while we could get into a debate over whether mountain bikers or dirt bikers have a greater right to these trails, that doesn't solve anything. In fact, in this case and many others, the trails are on private lands and we are all grateful trespassers in a sense. In fact SORCA has spent countless hours in the past year working with landowners regarding continued access to the trails on their lands.

Perhaps the time has come for someone (anyone?) from the dirt bike community to step up and meet with SORCA (www.sorca.ca) to discuss how to stop situations like this from occurring in the future to prevent more damage, or more importantly before someone gets hurt. With dirt bikes and mountain bikes meeting up on the same trails more and more each day we need to find a solution quickly before its too late.

Neil Plumb

SORCA Trail Access Coordinator

Tracy Curley lived life with great joy

Editor,

A dear friend of our, Tracy Curley, passed away last week, another victim of the Sea to Sky Highway.

Tracy was the embodiment of someone who lived life with great joy; she had a warm and giving nature that reached out to all who needed a friend, a comforting voice, or a touch of cheer.

Her recent trip to India and Africa was one of life's pinnacles for her, and her husband's stories of their travels emailed home to friends kept us all in gales of laughter and wonder. Those stories are all safely tucked away on my computer, and will be cherished for future re-reading.

To her family and all those who knew her well, our heartfelt condolences. She will be missed by all.

We will celebrate her life as she would have us remember her, with stories, with laughter and with love.

Charronne Douglas and Chris Johnson

Crofton, B.C.

McIntyre's math is skewed

Editor,

Clearly, Joan McIntyre forgot to do her homework in her rush to defend the Liberal record after their broken promise to protect education ("Provincial Liberal candidate responds to teachers," The Chief March 25)

There are 2,609 fewer teachers than four years ago and only one out of four lost teachers can be attributed to declining enrollment. This explains why classes are larger and there are fewer services for students. The Liberals include 2000-01 in their statistics, the year before they were in power and at the same time include 2005-06, a year that has yet to happen.

McIntyre brags about the legislated class size averages - replacing what used to be firm class size limits in contracts. There were firm limits of 30 for intermediate and secondary classes, not an average. An average of 30 has meant class sizes of well over 30. There are larger class sizes at every grade level.

The Liberals also stripped guaranteed staffing levels for teacher librarians, counsellors, learning assistance teachers and special education teachers. Students with special needs used to have a guaranteed level of service - but not any more.

The Liberals downloaded costs such as pension payment increases, MSP premium increases, BC Hydro rate increases, and salary and benefit increases and then refused to fund them, forcing school boards to make cuts.

McIntyre's claiming credit for literacy is laughable. The Liberals have cut student access to libraries dramatically. The number of teacher-librarians has been cut by 25 per cent. The $10 million for textbooks is less than a quarter of what the NDP government provided in 2000-01. Ministry of Education figures show that $47 million was provided in that school year. Do the Liberals think that closing school libraries and slashing textbook budgets improves literacy?

Worst of all is McIntyre's attempt to take credit for international test scores. These tests take years to analyze. The current results are a reflection of better times for students - before class sizes increased, before services were slashed, before 113 schools were closed, before 2,609 teachers were lost, before the Liberals.

The Liberals' promises of more money for education are only that--election promises. We've seen those before.The Liberal record is clear - vote against it on May 17. Vote for public education, Vote for our future.

Lyle Fenton

Squamish

NDP need to do more to win votes

Editor,

I just returned from hearing Jeff Fox, President of the BC NDP Party, speak at the March 29 annual general meeting of the Squamish and District Labour Committee. I attended the meeting hoping to help find a "home" for my vote.

A number of things about Mr. Fox's talk struck me as odd, considering the NDP are seeking to win this next election.

If the NDP want to win - in a situation where British Columbians are tired of the pendulum swing, the Green Party could "tie up" what would otherwise be mostly NDP votes, and the vote appears almost evenly split - then it seems to me that there are three ways that they can increase their chances.

First, the NDP can adopt more centralist policies. Such an action would demonstrate a commitment to do away with pendulum swing governments and stride towards representing a broader share of the citizenry. Such an action would also blur the distinction between the parties and make the NDP more appealing to those British Columbians that want a more fiscally-responsible government.

Second, the NDP can be vocal about their support for electoral reform. Mr. Fox told us that the NDP is not taking sides on the electoral reform referendum, but is supportive of some type of reform, whether through the proposed Single Transferable Vote, or some other system yet to be proposed. If British Columbians have "had enough" as the NDP argue, then lets see a party push for what is likely our best opportunity to achieve good governance.

Third, the NDP can secure the Green vote by putting resource issues - like offshore oil and gas, and fish farming - at the forefront of their platform agenda alongside labour and social issues.

A strong platform that recognize where sound resource development lies will bring on side those Greens faced with the dilemma of whether to vote party or to protest vote against the Liberals.

I have a hard time accepting the idea of another term of this brand of Liberals, yet I worry that the NDP's new "I've Had Enough" campaign will bite them from behind.

Chris Joseph

Squamish

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