Local charities get big boost from Chateau Foundation 

Five local charities are thousands of dollars richer after a lot of hard work by employees at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Over the course of the year about 300 Chateau employees took part in various fundraisers to raise $50,000 for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Foundation.

On Tuesday afternoon staff gathered in the Frontenac Ballroom on the main floor for the cheque presentations to local charities.

"This is unbelievable," said an emotional Carol Coffey, director of WAG, Whistler's animal shelter, after receiving a $6,000 cheque.

"I can't thank you enough. I don't even know what to say."

Coffey was there with an excited Carmac, a friendly one-year old mutt who was found in the fall floods and who is currently up for adoption.

Coffey said she was overcome with emotion at the cheque presentation because the animal shelter is in desperate need of funds.

The money will go in part towards a new commercially-sized washer and dryer for the shelter. The remaining funds could go towards a vet emergency fund, as well as school programs for kids, teaching them about dog bite prevention and having respect for animals.

Greg McDonnell, community youth outreach worker with Whistler Community Services Society also picked up a cheque for $6,000.

He said the grant money would go towards the Sustainable Mountain Greenhouse Project.

The Chateau donation will bring two community greenhouses to Whistler he said.

One will be located at Myrtle Philip School and the other at the Food Bank beside Our Lady of the Mountains Church.

McDonnell said the greenhouses are planned to be built this spring and it’s hoped they will be producing food by early summer. All produce will go to the local Food Bank.

The third cheque for $6,000 went to the JJ Whistler Bear Society. Mitch Rhodes, who sits on the board, accepted the cheque for the society. He explained to the Chateau employees that over 900 black bears and 50 grizzlies are shot by conservation officers every year in B.C.

Their donation he said will go towards the Bear Smart program, which has a goal to address the root causes of bear/human conflicts, thereby reducing the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters also got a $6,000 boost. Connie Robertson, an executive housekeeper at the Chateau, accepted the money on behalf of the charity. Robertson has been a Big Sister for four years.

The last local charity on the list was Pearl's Place. Judy Crowston, acting financial administrator for the organization, accepted the money and said the money will support the services of the seven-bed transition house in Squamish. Pearl's Place helps women experiencing abuse. The shelter also provides programs for children who witness abuse.

The foundation has also given $10,000 each to the Squamish Flood Relief Fund and the Pemberton Flood Relief Fund this year.

Chateau General Manager Kevin Toth praised the employees at the cheque presentation and raised the bar for the following year.

"Our goal is to raise $60,000 in 2004."

Toth said there will also be fundraising for the families of the seven people who died in the head-on collision almost three weeks ago on Highway 99.

Five of the seven men who died were Whistler hotel workers on the way home from the night shift. Though none worked at the Chateau, the problem applies to all commuting night workers in the resort.

Toth said the executive committee at the Chateau will take a leadership role among the local hotels in addressing the transportation issue between Whistler and Squamish.

"We will be at the table... (working) to make the journey between your home and your home at the Chateau that much safer," said Toth.

The first meeting among local hoteliers to address the issue is on Monday, Feb. 23.

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