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Biodiesel coming to Whistler

Whistler among six municipalities to purchase biodiesel through new government program



Whistler has joined the municipalities of Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and Delta in a joint project to convert part of their fleets to run on biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning alternative to fossil fuels that is derived of renewable materials, usually vegetable oil but sometimes fat and restaurant grease. In some vehicles biodiesel is blended with petroleum products while in others it is the sole source of fuel. It’s biodegradable, non-toxic, and almost free of sulfur and other agents.

It’s also easy to adopt – you can run almost any compressed ignition diesel engine with few if any modifications. Depending on the source of the biodiesel, it can also smell pretty good to other pedestrians and motorists.

The six municipalities participating in the project have agreed to purchase 80 million litres of biodiesel over the next five years, with the assistance of the federal and provincial governments.

At a press conference on Wednesday, March 30, the project was presented by Fraser Basin Council chair Patrick Reid, Western Economic Diversification Canada minister Stephen Owen, and Richard Neufeld, the B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines. Vancouver Mayor Larry Campell also attended, as did the mayors of North Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta, and Richmond. Councillor Kristi Wells represented Whistler as acting mayor.

Whistler has already been testing biodiesel as part of a pilot project, with four municipal vehicles already running on a biodiesel/diesel blend – a Ford truck, a backhoe, a front-end loader and a 5,000 pound plow truck.

That pilot project was given a 98 per cent success rate by the RMOW, which will have six converted vehicles this summer.

"We didn’t have any problems with performance, or fuelling, or low fuel economy or that kind of thing at all," said Brian Barnett, the general manager of engineering and public works for the RMOW. "We’re going to run biodiesel in six units throughout the summer, and will be negotiating the purchase of biodiesel in our next fuel contract, which comes up this summer."