Whistler workers leave cars at home 

Commuter Challenge makes conservation a friendly competition

Whistler workers outdid themselves this year in the second annual Whistler Way Commuter Challenge, with more individuals and businesses participating and putting in a solid effort to take alternative forms of transportation in a two-week period.

The idea, according to municipal traffic demand management co-ordinator Emma DalSanto, was to create a fun contest that forced people to give up their single occupant vehicles and walk, bike, bus and carpool to work. The contest was run over two weeks, from Sept. 17 to 30, giving participants a chance to get used to alternatives. People don’t change their habits overnight.

"We want people to try something new and see that there are other options (to the single passenger vehicle) that might actually work better for certain trips," said DalSanto.

The Commuter Challenge organizers sweetened the deal by offering participants a chance to win a season’s pass for Whistler-Blackcomb, a one-year family membership at Meadow Park Sport Centre, and other prizes.

Businesses are also presented awards for participation, and many busineses issued challenges to one another to make the competition more interesting.

This season more than 1,150 Whistler employees participated, 25 per cent more than last year, and the number of participating businesses increased to 72 from 65.

Individuals could earn up to eight points a day, four points per trip, by walking, cycling, taking the bus or being part of a car pool with three or more people. People could also earn two points per trip by being part of a carpool with two people.

A person had to earn 40 points for one draw prize entry, and 80 points, the maximum, for a second entry.

The Whistler-Blackcomb season’s pass went to Surinder Singh of the Delta Whistler Resort. Jim Flichel of Whistler-Blackcomb won the Meadow Park membership. Dani Cotes from the Grocery Store won the annual WAVE pass. Jenn Keefer won a $100 gift certificate to the Rimrock for participating in the MarketPlace Challenge Draw, organized by Jim Watts of FastPark. John Ward won the Spot the Councilor draw for spotting Councillor Ken Melamed on his bike, earning a $50 gift certificate to Zeuski’s.

In the large business category (100 employees or more), the Delta Whistler Resort won the award with 54 per cent of all employees participating.

Delta Whistler Village Suites won the large business award for the highest percentage of possible points earned, based on the number of participants, with 95 per cent.

In the medium business category (10 to 99 employees), it was a six-way tie for first, with 100 per cent of employees at Moguls Café Inc, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Rainbow Retreats Accommodation Ltd., RBC Royal Bank and the North Shore Credit Union taking part in the Commuter Challenge. This was the second year in a row that the RBC Royal Bank managed 100 per cent participation.

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