Put your money where your mouth is 

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I'm carrying 12 litres of Uncle Luke's organic maple syrup up our front stairs and I'm laughing. First, because this is the most maple syrup my family has ever possessed — a feeling of sweet joy. Second, because this really heavy box is a perfect example of how Whistler2020 helps Whistler residents make better decisions.

Here's the deal. In 2008 the Whistler2020 Resident Affordability Task Force developed an action as part of their annual Whistler2020 implementation session.

The action read: "Prepare and communicate a business/feasibility plan for a bulk purchasing program or 'food buying co-op.'" That work was done by the end of 2008 and in 2009 the task force took the next step developing an action which said: "Create a Whistler discount portal."

Thanks to the efforts of Kari Mancer, program manager at Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), those action ideas are now reality and Whistler residents can get online at http://www.mywcss.org/shop/list, create their own personalized shopping cart and browse through the virtual aisles at thousands of wholesale, bulk food items and dry goods. A dream come true for a guy like me who cringes at the thought of driving to Squamish or the Lower Mainland to shop at some big box store where the fluorescent lights and frenzied old ladies with carts full of cheap coffee have me on the verge of a seizure.

Now, from the comfort of my own living room, I shop for wholesale goods, thanks to the dedicated members of the Resident Affordability task force, who, since 2006, have brainstormed 43 separate actions designed to make Whistler more affordable for all. Now we can all put our money where our mouths are, save costs, reduce carbon emissions and support an important WCSS program.

According to Mancer, a lot of work has gone into researching the best brands and creating a database, developing an online tool to shop and pay securely and then getting the once a month orders to Whistler. While she has been trying to get the word out about the program, the uptake has been slow.

Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Whistler folks who spent time and energy during the recent election complaining about costs and looking for efficiencies around every corner, how many clients does the WCSS Food Buying Club have? Eight.

"There is no profit in this model for us (WCSS)," Mancer says. "The administration fee covers running the program, transportation and distribution. This is a real social enterprise and we are hoping Whistler supports it. The main goal is to provide affordable groceries for Whistler residents."

Next order deadline is Monday, Dec. 19. Pick up at the WCCS office in Spruce Grove, 7328 Kirkpatrick Way, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 22. You must arrange pick up for this time and WCSS cannot make any exceptions. All food not picked up will be donated to the food bank. 

"The people who have participated have been very happy," Mancer says. "This is the kind of thing that grows by word of mouth. A couple tips members have shared is that all products are ordered in bulk, so to cut the cost of the order, join up with a couple other families to help spread out your order."

So get together with a couple other families this month, have some egg nog, fill up your cart and soon you too will be blissed out carrying enough maple syrup for a hockey team up your front steps. Sweet.

To know more about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020, to tell us how you're contributing, or to find out how we're performing visit www.whistler2020.ca.


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