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I rarely find it necessary to write a letter to you. I would rather reach out to the public through the regular channels. However, when the regular channels fail me I have little choice.

I rarely find it necessary to write a letter to you. I would rather reach out to the public through the regular channels. However, when the regular channels fail me I have little choice.

Last week in your Council column, it was reported that I might be thinking of asking the public to vote no on the amenities referendum. Let me be as clear today as I was in the Council chamber - I urge the electorate to vote no. Those were the words I used. Possibly your reporter had difficulty hearing me as the Mayor was most upset and was taking steps to have me quit speaking.

It seems The Chief is not interested in seeking any balance in their reporting on this subject. Why haven't you queried the statements around legal opinions and provincial criteria? You should because there is no documentation to that end.

There is nothing prohibiting us letting the public know what the estimated construction and operating costs of any proposed project is. Why aren't you asking how many of the numerous projects proposed could realistically be constructed with $20,000,000. Why aren't you asking how Council is going to determine which projects are going to be constructed?

The Mayor has stated the projects will all get under way in 2005 with determinations to be made within a couple of months of the referendum. Why don't you ask why he didn't propose this referendum in this council's first year? If he had all facilities would be constructed by now and we would be paying not only 61 cents per thousand on the $20,000,000 long-term debt but also the operating costs.

Just to put things in perspective I will break out what we pay annually for the existing swimming pool. The 2005 budget is proposed to be $1,030,827 - debt servicing costs at $254,000 and operating costs of $767,000 or three times the cost of debt payments. Applying those figures to the average mythical Squamish house assessed at $261,297 the homeowner will pay $117.58 for the pool alone.

If we use the Mayor's analogy we are not talking about one pizza a month but several pizzas just for one facility. Remember the addition to Hilltop House that was built and subsequently sat empty for several years because the funds to operate it were not available?

It is not too late for you to ask the questions.

Corinne Lonsdale

Councillor, District of Squamish

Editor's note: The Chief received this letter after our publication deadline last Wednesday, hence the reference to "last week's council column" refers to the Jan. 21 edition.

Minor hockey urges yes vote on referendum


On behalf of the Squamish Minor Hockey Association, we are writing you in regards to the upcoming referendum on the $20-million recreational facilities upgrade.

As you may or may not be aware, there will be a referendum on Feb. 26, 2005 on this issue. Part of the proposed $20 million recreational upgrade includes a new ice arena. Our current facility is not adequate to sufficiently accommodate all those who wish to play hockey in Squamish. In the 2004 / 2005 hockey season, Squamish Minor Hockey came dangerously close to having to turn away a number of children from our area due to lack of ice time. The situation will only worsen as our population grows.

The Squamish Minor Hockey Executive would urge you to support this referendum by voting at Brennan Park Recreation Centre on Feb. 26.

Roy Weiss, Ron Sander, Joe Webber, Denice Roberge, Kal Kaila and Semone Fowler

Squamish Minor Hockey Executive

Helping the poor more important than facilities


As I hiked my dogs around the neighbourhood tonight I found myself met by a woman who asked if I was going up a dark path by myself and if she could join me. Within the first 20 or so feet, I found out she was homeless and broke, living in Vancouver over the past six or so months, in and out of shelters. Wanting to help I offered some things, like the food bank or the soup kitchen, but I couldn't think of anywhere a single woman could start to get back on track. She told me that she was asked to go back to Vancouver but her family was here. We talked and I told her I will pray for her, that God will help her through this.

Now I wonder with all the money out there, where in Squamish is there for people to start over, to seek help at 6 p.m. on a Sunday. What we need in this town is not another gym for the youth, or bigger facilities. We need to help the people here. There is no single low-cost housing, nowhere for the drug-addicted to seek long-term help and they're still going to be here after 2010.

I know you see this town growing in the next five to 10 years, but who is it growing for? Some of the people here can't afford to buy a house yet pay the taxes for one.

I have a new brand for Squamish, it's called "High End by 2010". I know I'll be saying no to any future bylaw made by the district for the district!

A. Newman


Thanks for rescue


On Jan. 13, my wife Rebecca Rasmussen broke her lower right leg while backcountry skiing on Red Heather meadows in Diamond Head, Garibaldi Park.

We wanted to express our sincere gratitude to the 911 response, including the B.C. Ambulance Service and RCMP, to the snowshoers who assisted us with follow-up 911 calls, to the tele-skier who built a warming fire in Red Heather hut, to Shane and his sister for escorting me off the mountain and finally to the entire Squamish SAR team for the helicopter evacuation they so skillfully performed for Rebecca.

Included in the initial team were John Wilcox, Doug Woods, Chris Lawrence and Blackcomb Helicopters pilot Andrew, who flew in with daylight fading fast, stabilized Rebecca and got her off the mountain to a waiting ambulance. A second team, consisting of Peder Orum, Nancy Antosh and Jay Aldridge with pilot Nathan Dubeck, was on standby.

Randel Tomczuk and Richard Poilley performed helicopter site safety at the staging area. Jim Lang coordinated the whole rescue in the role of search manager. John Howe interrupted a business meeting to phone SAR members who weren't carrying their pagers. Chris Platz from BC Parks dropped by the base to assist, and later visited Rebecca at Squamish General Hospital. Barb Liton helped out with radio communications, fact-finding and contingency planning.The doctors and staff at Squamish General were fantastic, and Rebecca was ready to go home by the time I got there.

We are blessed to live in a province with such natural beauty, and shielded from the inherent dangers of this wilderness by selfless colleagues who are prepared to drop everything to assist others in need. Rebecca is recovering and actually went to work this week. Thank you all!

Chris Wilson and Rebecca Rasmussen

North Vancouver

Mashiter Creek clearcutting must stop


As Squamish contemplates how to define and market itself as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, I wish to bring to your attention one main issue.

As we showcase Squamish's natural beauty to the world through trails, events like the Test of Metal, and parks, we need to remind ourselves that our biggest asset is our natural environment. We claim to have world class climbing on the Chief and Smoke Bluffs, rivers for fishing, rafting, and kayaking, trails for hiking and biking, and consistent winds for sailing and wind surfing, to mention a few. Again all these are natural resources that give us marketing and economic opportunities.

I find that as we look to exploit our natural assets, we may be loosing them during this process. I mention the current clear cutting that is taking place on the east slope of the Mashiter River. In my discussions with the municipality and forestry, I understand that Merrill and Ring has a private land block, and have built a road where they are currently clear cutting down to the creek. The direction of the cutting is toward the top of Stonehaven in Garibaldi Highlands (ie. moving toward housing).

Again, I question why this would be allowed in an area that is so highly visible to the fantastically popular Mashiter walking and riding trails (not to mention the course route of the Test of Metal), and on a major waterway.

I am not anti-logging. I am not anti-Merrill and Ring. I am not anti-development. I am, however, wondering how we can allow our natural asset to be diminished irresponsibly.

I say irresponsibly because less than a few kilometres away another cutblock was harvested recently, but was selectively cut (and wasn't done beside a major waterway that runs through our community). I say diminishing our assets because I don't see the tourism or recreational benefit of a close to the community clearcut!

The only economic benefit would be for the land owner to say, "Hey, this clearcut is an eyesore, so why don't we develop a housing start here, and you'll gain tax benefits?" (which seems quite reminiscent to the discussion that Merrill and Ring is currently engaging in with wishing to allow another of their clearcuts to be developed within the OCP). The big problem is we, as a community, have our asset depreciated for years! So, I think as we responsibly look to define our strengths and exploit our opportunities, we need to clearly preserve our natural heritage.

Are we to showcase to the world the speed and efficiencies of clearcutting so close to home?

Neil McKinnon

Garibaldi Highlands

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