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Zero Waste Committee gets first appointments

Council briefs: UBCM grant for seniors gets council support
LOOKING ON Whistler council watches a presentation at the Dec. 3 meeting. Photo by Braden Dupuis

Whistler's long-awaited Zero Waste Committee is set to get to work after receiving its first appointments at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

Former Whistler Councillor Sue Maxwell—a waste management specialist and longtime advocate for the committee—will serve as its citizen at large, while current councillors Arthur De Jong and Cathy Jewett (who will serve as chair) were also appointed.

The rest of the committee will be made up of the Mayor of Whistler, one representative each from the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, Whistler Blackcomb, the Whistler Community Services Society and a staff member from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, as well as three Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staffers and three members of the business community.

Council approved its terms of reference on Oct. 22.

The committee's goal will be to reduce the amount of waste generated in Whistler and subsequently sent to landfill.

While about 61 per cent of waste managed by the RMOW was diverted from landfill in 2018, the Zero Waste Committee will look at ways of reaching at least 90-per-cent diversion (the definition of zero waste).

Whistler's 61-per-cent waste diversion rate is a big improvement over the last decade (up from 41 per cent in 2008), but still slightly off the provincial target of 350 kilograms of landfilled waste created per person.

In 2018, Whistler generated about 389 kg of waste per person, according to a recent update to council.

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Whistler's Mature Action Community (MAC) is hoping to benefit from some Union of BC Municipalities funding in 2020.

MAC chair Kathy White was on hand for the Dec. 3 meeting to present to council on the opportunity, and request that the RMOW apply for a $25,000 grant through UBCM's 2020 Age Friendly Communities funding.

If successful, the money would be used to undertake "age-friendly planning" in 2020.

"This grant would help Whistler prepare for the future as we move from 40 years young into setting an example of how fun it is to age in place in Whistler," White wrote in a corresponding letter to council.

UBCM's Age-friendly Communities program helps communities support aging populations by developing and implementing policies and plans, undertaking projects that enable seniors to age in place, and facilitating the creation of age-friendly communities.

Since 2005, the provincial government has provided more than $7 million to support the program, and more than 150 communities across the province have completed projects or been approved for funding, including local governments and First Nation Communities.

In receiving White's letter, council supported the request for the RMOW to apply for the grant.

At the meeting, Jewett pointed out that with about 1,200 people over the age of 55 in the 2016 census, 10 per cent of Whistler's population qualifies as a senior citizen.

"One of the things that is—it's not absolutely certain, but you sure want it to happen—is that you're going to be older one day as well, so I think it's really important to support our seniors population," she said.

"Our medical services, our social services, to a certain extent are geared towards younger people, but they aren't even keeping up with that."