Environmental strategy laid out in detailed document 

WES could make resort a world leader in environmental stewardship

From high level operating principles to simple daily practises, the Whistler Environmental Strategy has been set down on paper and adopted by council.

The thick document outlines the steps "to do our part" towards achieving environmental sustainability, said Dave Waldron, manager of environmental services, who presented the document to council on Monday night.

WES has been four years in the making and incorporates The Natural Step Framework as part of the guidelines for reaching sustainability.

Seeing WES adopted by council was a landmark day for some councillors.

Councillor Ken Melamed said the strategy was one of the greatest areas of satisfaction for him since he’s been on council.

All the councillors praised staff on the hard work that was done in bringing about the comprehensive strategy.

Eckhard Zeidler, one of the directors with the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, said WES is potentially one of the most important documents in town.

"The key element is that it goes way beyond mere words," said Zeidler, who was at Monday’s council meeting.

He said there was a very strong sense after Waldron’s presentation that WES is a real working document, defining Whistler’s responsibility to sustainability through definitive goals and set tasks.

Some of those tasks have already been completed, like preserving the Emerald Forest and the River of Golden Dreams.

Other projects are in progress, like developing standards for a hierarchy of trails. This is currently in draft form with Community Services Department in the municipality.

And there are other projects planned for the future, like assessing the feasibility of a Whistler Environmental Research Centre.

"We recognize we have a long way to go but also realize how far we have come," said Melamed.

There are over 200 specific tasks listed in the document, which have been given status, priority and timelines. They are also subject for review to determine whether they have been working and whether they ultimately steer the community toward sustainability.

WES is a lofty document from its mission statement, which commits Whistler to being a world leader in environmental stewardship, to the eight operational principles, which act as high level guidelines.

In the more practical sense, WES defines three main topic areas or directions. Each of the three directions supports several goals and tasks.

The first of those directions is land use.

Waldron said the pattern of development and growth on any landscape could have a very dramatic impact on the environment.

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