In Canada, environmental impacts can be measured in centimeters of highway. In Sea to Sky country, where driving between various communities for work and play is necessary, finding ways to mitigate one's emission footprint can get lost in the shuffle.
Enter the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) Commuter Challenge, an annual competition that pits participating businesses and individuals against one another to reduce single passenger vehicle trips and win prizes, to boot.
"The really exciting thing about this year is not just that we have the three returning grand prizes, but that we have three prizes to be drawn each day of the challenge, so that's 36 prizes, plus some surprise and bonus prizes to be drawn on the last day," said the RMOW's Commuter Challenge organizer, Donna Savage.
Due to overlap with the Thanksgiving weekend, this year's challenge will be 12 days instead of the regular 14, but Savage said the goal is still to beat last year's emission reduction of four tons of greenhouse gasses - the ballpark equivalent of avoiding 1,000 litres of gas. During last year's challenge over 900 commuters in Whistler walked, biked, bused or carpooled to work.
"We're going to do the best we can, we hope to percentage-wise meet last year's target," said Savage, whose team has been handing out free coffee gift certificates at bus stops throughout town to raise awareness around the challenge.
Savage said contributions from local businesses have given the Commuter Challenge an extra edge.
"The response from local businesses is really admirable. They are so easy to work with and so generous and for this event as well as so many others," said Savage. "They really stepped up to bat for this one."
Organizations of any size and individuals can register online at www.whistler.ca . Participants will receive points for each direction (to and from work) that they commute using a preferred mode of transportation (walking, biking, taking transit, or ridesharing). Commuters who earn 35 or more points will be entered in a draw for prizes, including a Whistler Blackcomb Season Pass, an annual family pass to Meadow Park Sports Centre, or an a Whistler Transit System Annual Pass. Participants who earn 70 points will be entered in the draw twice. Plus, all participants eligible for three exciting prizes each day of the Challenge.