Looking forward, dumping back One of the most celebrated stories in Whistler's history is the one that goes: "The village used to be the garbage dump, you know." Yes, mostly everybody does know that. But as the Resort Municipality of Whistler has matured into a year-round, four-season resort, the garbage dump story has lost a bit of its verve. Now, with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District poised to release a report on how to reduce solid waste in the district by 50 per cent by the end of the century, the role of the existing Whistler landfill is being examined. When the village was a dump no one would have considered standing in the middle of a pile of garbage, looking around and saying, "Ah, yes. Here I envision the Delta Whistler Resort, strata units and a retail complex would be over there and don't forget the conference centre right here where this burnt-out Oldsmobile is sitting." When the SLRD released a draft of the report last month Whistler Mayor Ted Nebbeling went ballistic when he saw recommendations to expand the Whistler Landfill — turning it into a regional landfill, recycling depot and composting area. The report has been hastily redrafted and will be presented to members of the SLRD's solid waste management steering committee Sept. 21. According to Nebbeling, the Whistler Landfill is going to continue as a landfill, but it is not going to be identified as a regional centre until all of the costs, benefits and detriments are thoroughly examined. "They have identified another area between Whistler and Squamish for the composting site and the rest of the recommendations will remain unspecific as far as sites go until the pros and cons have been publicly examined," Nebbeling says. The $100,000 draft report, prepared by UMA Environmental Consulting, outlines two major options for the future of solid waste that is not recyclable, re-usable or reducible. One set of options would keep garbage in the regional district at regional landfills. The export option would see trash shipped to either Cache Creek or Washington State. Standing in the middle of the Whistler Landfill, it is easy to look 20 years into the future and start working out the real estate values. To the south is the Cheakamus River, get up on top of the pile of construction debris and look to the north — there in all of her majesty stands Whistler Mountain — the main player in the development of the area. Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. President Doug Forseth has voiced his opposition to any plans to expand the landfill as well. The Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. has big ideas for the southwest side of the mountain: a third base area accessed from Function Junction. The new base area, dubbed Whistler West, was approved in Whistler Mountain's 1991 master plan. The base area is projected to service four new lifts and untold hectares of new terrain. Just below the planned base area is a 60 hectare plateau which has the characteristics for residential housing and possibly a golf course. Forseth says WMSC is not opposed to the landfill at this time, but any plans to expand the landfill or to turn it into a regional site will be met with vocal opposition. "Twenty years from now we'll look back and not recognize the Cheakamus area," Forseth says. "We're not going to have another village there but we'll have the going concern as far as the ski business goes."

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