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Centre a step towards sustainability

Whistler 2020 will move away from municipality to allow for growth



“Sustainability.” Since the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth , the term has become a popular buzzword, with governments throughout the world — including Whistler’s own local government — struggling to achieve a balance of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Whistler has been publicly applauded for its environmental initiatives, winning a $25,000 Green City award from the provincial government back in September.

And it looks like the community is taking another step towards its lofty environmental goals, establishing the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, which has been discussed since around 2000, even before the Whistler 2020 vision for sustainability, and around the same time the municipality adopted The Natural Step framework for sustainability.

The municipality has committed $120,000 a year over five years as seed funding for the centre.

Shannon Gordon, Whistler 2020 Community Initiatives Manager, is working at finally getting the centre off the ground. Though the concept of an independent entity responsible for driving the sustainability initiative at a community level has been around for years, Gordon says the timing is finally right to establish the centre, with the Olympics around the corner to boost their profile.

“We certainly have more support in the community, especially through these task forces, for Whistler’s commitment to sustainability. We have lots of commitment and support for Whistler 2020.”

She pointed out that half of the Whistler 2020 task forces have recommended that a learning centre be established at one time or another, and it’s important that Whistler 2020 continues to grow, which means moving away from the municipality.

“Whistler 2020, to this point, has been led by RMOW staff. But it’s not a municipal plan, it’s a community-wide plan that has the partnership and support of about 30 other Whistler organizations,” Gordon explained.

“By establishing the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, in addition to doing a whole bunch of other things, the community-wide aspects of Whistler 2020 will move to the centre.”

The centre will not only have a business component, but a learning centre, which will allow visitors and individuals to come and learn about sustainability.