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EPI ready to share research findings and draft recommendations

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Some of the key decision-makers in Whistler have spent the last 10 months behind closed doors looking at what can be done to keep Whistler successful.

The discussions to date have been private. Until now.

The Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) Committee is ready to reveal some of its findings with research and draft recommendations now ready for review at an upcoming open house.

"There's some really good stuff," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

The EPI Committee was formed with a goal to grow the resort economy, build confidence in the economy and encourage reinvestment. It includes key decision makers such as Dave Brownlie, president and CEO of Whistler Blackcomb, Barrett Fisher, president of CEO of Tourism Whistler, Wilhelm-Morden, Councillor Jayson Faulkner and municipal CAO Mike Furey, among others.

The committee has met with nine different community organizations, including representatives from the retail and bar sectors, the restaurant industry and strata management.

The open house will be held on Wednesday, June 26 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Delta Whistler Village Suites.

It will include a presentation from the EPI reps at 5:15 p.m., a gallery walk with display information, opportunities to meet municipal staff and committee members and to submit feedback.

The committee will consider input from the open house as it works to prepare a summary report, expected to be delivered to council in the fall.

Legislation considered for recycling

Council may be considering a bylaw legislating restaurants, stores and stratas to separate their recycling from their garbage.

Commercial, industrial, institutional and strata garbage accounts for 62 per cent of Whistler's waste stream.

This new bylaw could be part of a series of recommendations put to council in the coming weeks all with a goal of making Whistler's solid waste management more effective and efficient.

"Garbage is the most expensive thing," explained James Hallisey, manager of environmental projects, during the June 18 Committee of the Whole meeting on Whistler's solid waste. "Compost and recycling are cheaper."

Not just cheaper but reducing garbage also aligns with Whistler's goal of moving toward zero waste.

Whistler generates 465 kilograms per person per year in landfilled waste with 56 per cent diverted out of the landfill.

Hallisey called that "respectful" compared to other B.C. towns.

"We're doing pretty well," he said.

But, this comprehensive look at the solid waste system — which runs close to $5 million annually — shows Whistler can be doing more.

About one quarter of Whistler's waste, sent to the landfill in Washington State, is compostable; a further 16 per cent is wood waste and could also be taken out of the garbage stream.

"I would say: bring it on as fast as we can," said Councillor Jayson Faulkner, of the potential new bylaw focusing on commercial and industrial waste.

Faulkner was heavily into recycling when he owned and operated Escape Route.

Long time restaurateur John Grills added: "I think for the most part stratas are involved... I don't think it will be that much of a surprise."

Among other things municipal staff is considering: developing new performance-based solid waste operating contracts, improving the efficiency of the composting facility by building a dry woodchip storage building and improving the diversion in the commercial and multi-family sector.

If council moves ahead with staff recommendations there is potential to save $172,000 in 2014, $300,000 by 2015 and $430,000 by 2020 as diversion increases.

The changes come as the provincial Ministry of Environmental brings in legislation requiring producers of packaging and printer paper (PPP) to develop a program to collect PPP at their cost; currently most costs to collect this material are paid by municipal governments.

Staff will be developing formal recommendations in a report to council in the coming weeks. 

Speaking of Delta Whistler Village Suites, Escape Route


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