Whistler food waste is getting steamy, and that could be good news for taxpayers.
Council approved a $130,000 capital project at the composting system that will capture the waste heat escaping from the system and pump it back into the facility to keep it warm.
That is designed to have a significant impact on the $32,000 annual propane bill to heat the compost facility.
"We really took a hard look at the costs," said the municipality's manager of environmental operations Michael Day.
"It's a low risk financial analysis."
The bulk of the money to pay for the project will come from the composting budget's operating fund with a $10,000 contribution from the Climate Action Innovation Fund if the project is finished in 2011.
"If we don't use those funds this year they will be lost," he said.
Day said he expects to see the paybacks within five years.
The project was met with high praise from the majority of council.
Councillor Eckhard Zeidler said: "You can do this all day long as far as I'm concerned."
The lone opposing vote was Councillor Ralph Fosyth. While he didn't explain his opposition, he asked a pointed question: where would the money go if it weren't spent on this project?
The answer was that it would be put back into the municipality's general fund.
The municipality bought the composting facility in 2008 for $13.78 million. It was part of the multi-million dollar capital updates to the wastewater treatment plant.
The debt on the composting purchase is $1.8 million.
RMOW opposes quarry expansion
There was full consensus on council to oppose Whistler Aggregates' plan to expand its quarrying operations near the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.
But the opposition may not carry any weight.
The municipal manager of community planning, Bill Brown, explained that though the expansion land is not zoned for quarrying activity, the municipality couldn't control interests in the land such as removal of rock and gravel. It does not have the authority to stop the mining operation.
"Notwithstanding what we tell the Crown, the mining may or may not continue," cautioned Brown.
Whistler Aggregates has applied for a licence of occupation to add 5.67 hectares of land to the western boundary of its existing quarry. The application goes through the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources, which is now looking to Whistler for comment.
When asked by Councillor Tom Thomson if council's opposition could spark a legal challenge, Brown said:
"I don't know but all we're doing is making a recommendation to the Crown."
CAO Mike Furey then clarified that Crown has referred the licence to other parties and was simply looking for feedback.
This is not the first time council has balked at the quarrying operations in the neighbourhood.
In May, staff proposed a land swap that would have essentially rezoned the sought-after expansion land to allow gravel extraction. In exchange Whistler Aggregates would give up some of its existing land closer to the neighbourhood to create a larger buffer for the residents.
Though staff supported that plan, council did not.
Councillors did not explain their opposition Tuesday night but the quarry has disrupted the Cheakamus Crossing residents and their collective voice has been heard at the council table.
Whistler Aggregates is owned by Frank Silveri, who also owns Alpine Paving, the asphalt operation in the same area.
The municipality issued a cease and desist order to that operation in May to no avail. The matter is going before a judge in November.