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Trades funding announced

News briefs: Earth Day to be observed; local companies awarded

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Sea to Sky high schools will benefit from a new one-time $167,686 grant to purchase equipment for trades training over the next three years.

In an announcement from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, a total of more than $7.5 million will be dispersed throughout the province this year with $5 million of that going to rural schools.

Among the purchases slated for the Sea to Sky are laser engravers, table saws and 3D printers, but the funding is not specifically targeted to those items and could well be used to restock other items in trades classrooms.

"It's a definite boost for us to get this money," said Sea to Sky School district secretary-treasurer Shehzan Somji.

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy said the skills training will be crucial in coming years as more than one million job openings are expected in the province by 2015.

"This funding is trying to prepare our youth and give them options," Sturdy said. As well, it is estimated that eight of out of 10 jobs by the year 2025 will require post-secondary education or trades training.

- Lynn Mitges

Turn off the lights for Earth Hour this weekend

Whistler will look to reclaim its title as the top energy-saver in the province this weekend as the resort powers down for Earth Hour.

From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, the local community is encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights, joining thousands around the globe who will power down to raise awareness of climate change. This year marks the 10th annual Earth Hour, two years after Whistler was the biggest energy-saver among participating B.C. communities, when the resort cut power consumption by seven per cent.

"The impacts of climate change are not distant, and municipal changes alone will not address the issue," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in a release. "Taking personal actions such as separating kitchen scraps from garbage to landfill, installing moisture sensors on sprinkler systems, and reducing the number of trips taken by car are simple ways to make a measurable difference."

Last year, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) released its Community Energy and Climate Action Plan, which set a number of emission targets and "climate adaptation" objectives. The RMOW's own departmental goals fit into the overall plan, and include new initiatives to reduce waste, water, and personal vehicle use that will be introduced this spring.

The municipality is encouraging residents to share the ways they're working to curb energy use on its Facebook page. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is helping locals and visitors celebrate Earth Hour through a number of activities at the hotel. Guests can enjoy dinner by candlelight at The Wildflower and Grill Room, or blend a pedal-powered organic smoothie by hopping on a stationary bike in the lobby.

For the past several years, Whistler Blackcomb has 'shut down' both mountains for Earth Hour, meaning the electrical team quite literally turned off all power and will be doing it again this year.

In 2015, BC Hydro reported provincial savings of 15 megawatt hours for the province during Earth Hour. Real-time metering showed a savings of more than 3 megawatt hours of electricity over the 1.5 hours Whistler Blackcomb had the power off, which helped Whistler win for the most Earth Hour savings in BC. BC Hydro did not track in the same way in 2016.

- Brandon Barrett

Local companies win big

At the Canadian Home Builder Association of British Columbia's annual Georgie Awards on March 11 — recognizing excellence in home building — RDC Fine Homes Inc., took home awards for Best Certified Home, Customer Satisfaction and Best Website, while Heike Designs Inc., netted an award for Best Landscape Design.

A third Whistler company — Peak Ventures — was a finalist for Best Kitchen Renovation under $125,000 and Best Condo Renovation over $250,000.

Pique wrote about the finalists in December: "Whistler companies up for Georgie Awards "(Dec. 25).

Meanwhile, a Whistler company and a high-profile Whistler project were both recognized at the Canadian Wood Council's 2017 Wood Design Awards on March 6.

Innovation Building Group Ltd., won for Multi-Unit Residential Wood Design for its Solana project in Rainbow, while Vancouver's Patkau Architects won for Institutional Wood Design (Large) for its work on the Audain Art Museum.

- Braden Dupuis

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