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AWARE gains momentum for 2004



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• AWARE developed a plan to create some kind of an Olympic Wildlife Refuge in the upper Soo Valley to offset the planned development in the Callaghan Valley. The plan has been passed on to members of the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, and has been well received.

• AWARE partnered with the Community Foundation of Whistler to create the AWARE Environmental Fund. That money will go directly towards specific projects in Whistler to enhance and protect watersheds, wetlands and wildlife habitat, while promoting education and conservation.

• AWARE is a partner in the Community Habitat Inventory Research Project (CHIRP), a community habitat mapping project for Whistler that will identify ecosystems, species of flora and fauna, and more, compiling data collected by a dozen local organizations and the community.

• AWARE, with other community partners, has been part of a wide range of local initiatives, including community composting, Whistler. It’s Our Nature , Earth Week, Environment Week, Pitch-In Day, and a monthly speaker series at AWARE meetings.

• Together with the Whistler Naturalists, AWARE is supporting the creation of environmental bylaws for Whistler that make it easier to prevent and penalize different activities. Enforcing provincial and federal environment laws is almost impossible at the municipal level, they said, and as a result offenders are seldom punished.

Keeping momentum through 2004 will be challenging, says Horan, as AWARE portfolios like the Olympics and the Sea to Sky LRMP will need a lot of work. In addition, AWARE hopes to expand its support for a number of hands-on, local projects.

AWARE’s list of current campaigns includes Sustainability, Whistler’s Watersheds, the Olympic Games and Whistler’s Wilderness Backyard.

At the same time the group was able to reduce its involvement in several projects. For example, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s recent Zero Waste initiative, a composting program in the schools, and the construction of a composting centre in Squamish have reduced the need for a composting committee.

The municipality has also taken on wetlands issues, including the management of the River of Golden Dreams, freeing up the AWARE Valley Bottom Wetlands Committee to address larger watershed issues through the Whistler’s Watersheds Committee.

Horan is planning to run for president once again at AWARE’s annual general meeting this Sunday, and hopes many of the directors will also return. She also encourages current members to come out to the meeting, as well as all members of the community that are interested in environmental issues.

The AGM gets underway at 7 p.m. in the Mount Currie Room of the Delta Whistler Resort with a special presentation by Helen Speigelman, past-president of the Society Promoting Environmental conservation. The topic of her presentation is "Addicted to Waste" and will address the effects of North American consumerism and what can be done to reverse it.