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AWARE gains momentum for 2004



Annual general meeting this Sunday

What: AWARE Annual General Meeting

Where: Delta Whistler Resort, Mount Currie Room

When: Sunday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.

For a group as diverse and engaged as the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, it’s difficult to step back and measure their impact from year to year – most initiatives are long-term works in progress, and every time one file is closed, 10 more seem to open.

Still, 2003 was a breakthrough year in many ways for AWARE. With a strong board, a healthy bank account, and a small but active membership – more than 3,000 hours of volunteer work from board members alone last year – the group is more engaged than ever.

"2004 looks big for us," said Wendy Horan, the president of AWARE. "The Sea to Sky LRMP (Land and Resource Management Plan) will wrap up, the 2010 Olympics are on our radar, the Whistler. It’s Our Nature speaker series is about to gain momentum with a fantastic lineup of experts, we have wetlands projects… The schedule is filling up."

At the annual Cornucopia food and wine festival in November, AWARE volunteers worked the various functions and were the recipients of various fundraisers. In total AWARE received almost $30,000.

Other sources of funding, including a municipal grant-in-aid, and grants from various foundations in Whistler and Vancouver, have given AWARE the ability to get more involved in projects. Projects in the works range from small community tasks like new signage for local wetlands to larger campaigns like the AWARE-sponsored plan to create an Olympic legacy park in the Soo Valley to offset Olympic development in the neighbouring Callaghan Valley.

"With the hard-earned dollars that resulted from Cornucopia, AWARE is planning to do some great work in the upcoming year," said Horan. "This is where our partnerships throughout the community will benefit. We have yet to lay out exactly what will result, but the ideas are forming."

In AWARE’s annual year in review, Horan lists dozens of ways that AWARE has been involved in 2003. Some of the highlights include:

• AWARE members served on three Olympic bid committees for the successful Vancouver 2010 bid – transportation, housing and sustainability – and remain the only environmental group engaged in the planning process. While other environmental groups dropped out of the Olympic planning because of disagreements over the process, AWARE stayed involved, believing that the best way to influence decisions was on the inside. Now that the Games have been awarded, AWARE hopes to be able to influence the organizing committee to embrace sustainable concepts.