environmental strategy 

One of the areas that has been identified repeatedly as of high concern to Whistlerites is the environment. In town hall meetings, the Whistler 2002 vision and virtually every development proposal that comes forward, protection of the environment is raised as an issue. But there has never been a policy to help weigh environmental values or guide decisions which affect the environment — which are virtually all decisions. More than a year and a half ago Dave Waldron, a former municipal employee and graduate student at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Tourism Policy and Research, was hired to develop a document that addresses Whistler’s priority of moving toward environmental sustainability. The 150-page Whistler Environmental Strategy will be discussed at the Sept. 25 Resort Community Open House in the Whistler Conference Centre. It is not light reading, but it wasn’t produced in isolation, either. Two advisory groups, one made up of municipal staff and another made up of community representatives, had considerable input into the document. Tim Wake was one of the community representatives. "In the past we’ve tended to either let the environmental issue make the decision for us or ignored the environment. It’s been a black and white issue," Wake said. "To establish an ‘environmental value’ is very difficult. This document is a dramatic first step in that direction." The Environmental Strategy puts environmental values on all aspects of Whistler, but also provides the tools to act and tools to measure how much progress Whistler is making. "I was very pleased and surprised at the amount of detail pursued and investigated," said Michael Thompson, another member of the community advisory group. "It’s an ambitious document, but I think it’s do-able over time. "I think it’s particularly sensible in the area of protection of habitat, for example." The Environmental Strategy is designed to mesh with other comprehensive strategies the municipality is working on, including the Transportation Strategy and the long-term financial plan. "I’m very happy with the document," said Stephane Perron, president of AWARE and another member of the community advisory panel. "I’m very encouraged. I think if we can accomplish half the things in there we will be world leaders," Perron said. He added that the proof will be in the implementation of the Environmental Strategy. "This is the document that will hopefully create action," Perron concluded.

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