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Businesses invited to join iShift

Integrated approach to sustainability part of Whistler2020, RMOW and Centre for Sustainability

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Success and sustainability are intrinsically linked.

That's the basis for the new iShift program being launched next month by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS).

iShift is a year-long Whistler2020 take-action challenge that puts program coordinators from WCS in direct contact with businesses and citizens to further the top five goals of the Whistler2020 document. Enriching community life, enhancing resort experience, ensuring economic viability, partnering for success and protecting the environment are woven into iShift's mandate from a business perspective. A second phase directed at citizen groups will follow in January.

"Part of what we do in Whistler when it comes to sustainability is a very integrated approach, which means we don't just look at one aspect, we look at the three aspects of sustainability - the environment, the economy and society. We never split them up," said WCS's Shannon Gordon. "iShift businesses specifically will take that same, integrated approach. We won't have them doing things for the environment at a cost to business success and bottom line. We will look at doing things that are really win-win for businesses."

Businesses participating in the iShift program will attend a series of workshops hosted by WCS speakers who will outline specific ways to improve operations. Over time, businesses will be given the chance to implement and document the changes. As they reach their goals, which could be related to energy savings, recycling, employee satisfaction, or volunteerism, they will be given new ways to improve and promote their changes. WCS will offer eight or 16 hours of consulting time to each business, depending on the scope of their sustainability goals.

"For iShift, it's not just about being a greener business, it's about being more successful and sustainable, and sustainable is not just environment, it's about the social wellbeing of the community of employees," continued Gordon.

"For iShift we will be looking at employee satisfaction, retention, recruitment, and often greener initiatives help that. It also helps with establishing a more loyal customer base."

The iShift program received just under $100,000 from the Ministry of Environment. It has the capacity to work with around30 Whistler businesses.

Its second phase, which focuses on citizens, will be managed by RMOW environmental coordinator Nicolette Richer. The individual component will see groups of friends, neighbours or perfect strangers come together to discuss how their personal habits and environmental footprints can be mitigated.

"Two years ago I noticed that education alone doesn't really accomplish much," said Richer. "You can send out news releases and PSAs and brochures - a lot of organizations love brochures and stickers - but unless you have that face-to-face interaction and follow-up as well to understand what people's barriers are, it's really hard to overcome, so we came up with this idea."

To learn more or to register by Friday, Nov. 12, visit www.whistler2020.ca .

 

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