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AWARE on track in 2001



AGM show group to tackle composting, wetlands, Olympics, and Sea to Sky LRMP

For the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment – better known in the community as AWARE – 2001 was a breakthrough year.

A strategic planning meeting in 2000 gave the group a mandate. Successful applications for funding over the past year have given AWARE the resources to carry that mandate out.

"When you look at our plan for the coming year, it’s all laid out for us already, and it all began with the strategic planning session we had in 2000," says AWARE president Mitch Rhodes. "Certainly we’ll be able to deliver on the projects we’ve taken on, like community composting and the recovery of wetlands, and we’ve already spent the money we’ve raised on the Whistler Sustainability Initiative on those toolkits.

"The Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan is coming up this year, and we’re already heavily involved in that. This is also going to be the biggest year in the community regarding the Olympic bid, it all has to come together this year, and we are involved in that as well.

"Hiring Tina (Symko) as our project co-ordinator late in the year was also a key piece of the puzzle. We know we can raise money for a specific project, but if we don’t have an administrator to call the volunteers and make sure the work gets done, we’re not going to be moving as fast as we could be."

At AWARE’s annual general meeting at the Fairmont Chateau on Jan. 13, the picture that Rhodes and other board members painted of the organization was rosy.

The three key areas identified for action in the strategic planning session were the community composting initiative, the initiative to protect Whistler’s valley bottom (including wetlands), and the initiative to protect areas in Whistler’s "wilderness backyard," including the Elaho and Sims valleys outside of Squamish and the proposed parks in the Lillooet area. Since then the Olympics, transportation, and the Whistler Sustainability Initiative have been added to the active list.

In the past year, AWARE has raised close to $90,000 for projects related to these areas, and, more importantly, made partnerships that will help see the projects through.

In the area of composting, AWARE’s Community Composting Project secured $28,000 in funding; $14,000 each from the Community Foundation of Whistler and the Vancouver Foundation.

The money has already been used to install 20 worm composting bins in Myrtle Philip Community School, and more bins will be installed in the new school at Spring Creek, along with a composting shed.