Whistler scoops environmental awards

The municipality’s compost facility, WORCA, BC Passive House added to list of SHIFT winners

Whistler is cleaning up at the inaugural SHIFT Sustainability Awards, adding an honour for its compost facility in the Callaghan Valley to the growing list.

The municipal facility beat out more than 600 other conservation and sustainability projects to win an award from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based festival in the culture category.

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“It’s great, of course, to win an award like this and receive the recognition that goes with it that we’re doing the right thing, as far as diverting waste from the landfill and acting responsibly through composting,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

The facility, which has been running for several years, is considered cutting edge because it allows businesses to save money in disposal fees for turning in organic waste. For residents, the municipality supplies compost bins at local depots in town. “Then it produces a compost material available to be used in gardens and lawns,” Wilhelm-Morden said.

The Pemberton-based BC Passive House, which prefabricates materials to the Passive House Standard, was also honoured in the culture category.

On top of that, the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) won in the adventure category, along with Whistler Blackcomb — news that was revealed in May — for working towards achieving a Zero Operating Footprint, which means no waste, carbon or net emissions.

WORCA, meanwhile, was recognized for its work building mountain bike trails. “It’s a continued recognition of what we do in this town,” Wilhelm-Morden said.

The recipients have been invited to attend the SHIFT Summit, running from Oct. 8 – 10 in Jackson Hole.

Meanwhile, the RMOW announced last week that it’s come up with a way to put Fido’s waste to good use. The municipality is launching a pilot program called the Pick Up Protocol — or PUP — to compost dog waste at the Callaghan facility. Compostable dog bags will be stationed at two off-leash parks, including Bayly Park and Alpha Lake Park, along with red PUP bins in which dog owners can dispose of their puppy’s poop. The waste will be collected and taken to the compost station rather than tossed into the landfill.

“We are excited to offer an innovative program that recognizes the needs of dog owners while balancing our residents’ passion for the environment,” Wilhelm-Morden said, in a release. “The PUP program is a great way to convert dog poo into compost while diverting waste from our garbage stream, reducing costs and helping to protect the environment. I’m looking forward to seeing enthusiastic uptake by dog owners!”

The project is slated to start in August and if it’s successful, it could be a long-term addition to the dog park. Whistler isn’t the first jurisdiction to add dog waste to its compost. Similar programs have been launched in Metro Vancouver as well as in other locations in the Lower Mainland.

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