Water cooling sends a chill 

Restaurant association concerned by proposed water conservation bylaw

Local restaurant owners have banded together, concerned that a bylaw circulating within municipal hall will have a negative impact on their businesses.

The proposed legislation seeks to save water by limiting businesses to certain types of refrigerators, air conditioners and ice making machines. But restaurateurs say more research needs to be done before such ruling is passed.

“It is not like we are fighting this bylaw, but nobody has information yet,” said Sheila MacLean, information officer for the newly formed Whistler Restaurant Association.

“There really has not been any preparation on the research… Nobody contacted the restaurants, so no restaurants gave any figures about how much water they use.”

MacLean said several factors need to be considered before such a bylaw is passed, including research into how energy efficient the equipment will be, what space requirements are needed, and what the bylaw could cost businesses.

“We all like to be conscious with regards to the environment… but we need to make sure everybody is properly educated on the best route to take,” said MacLean.

The restaurant association wrote a letter, signed by Chris Quinlan of Behind the Grind, to municipal hall two weeks ago highlighting their concerns.

The proposed bylaw was scheduled to go to council March 17, but was pulled from the agenda at the last minute when Ted Battiston, manager of sustainable initiatives for the municipality, heard the association’s concerns.

“Their comments were not supportive from what they understood of the bylaw at that point,” said Battiston.

“I want to finish that conversation with them. I want to say, ‘Here are the things in your comments that I think are overstated. Here are the things we could potentially bend on. Here is how the bylaw is more accommodating to your situation then I think you realize’.”

He added the bylaw should still come before council sometime soon, though no date has been set.

The bylaw aims to conserve drinking water in Whistler by switching all cooling machines — like refrigerators, air conditioners and ice machines — from water-based to air-based.

Most businesses in town currently have water-cooled equipment. These machines use drinkable water to cool refrigeration condenser coils. The used water is then sent down the drain.

Battiston estimates that as much as 600 million litres of water is used a year to cool these machines, or 14 per cent of Whistler’s drinkable water. This number is equivalent to emptying the pool at Meadow Park Sports Centre 1,700 times.

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