Four Whistler RCMP members have been recognized for their efforts in taking impaired drivers off Whistler roads. Const. Timothy Pierotti, Const. Kieran Bastians, Const. Michael Buchanan and Const. Michael Zwicker were presented with the Alexa's Team Award, named after Alexa Middelaar who in May 2008 was killed by an impaired driver that plowed into her and her aunt while they were feeding a horse by the side of the road in Delta.
In order to be recognized for the award, officers need to take 12 criminally impaired drivers off the roads in one calendar year. Zwicker was presented with the Alexis Team All Stars award for taking a minimum of 25 criminally impaired drivers off the road within one calendar year.
— Lynn Mitges
UPDATE IN STORE FOR WHISTLER'S SMOKING BYLAW
Smokers in Whistler may soon be asked to butt out before hitting the Village Stroll. An update to the existing tobacco control bylaw is planned as part of a new Healthy Communities Partnership agreement between the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).
The proposed bylaw needs to be approved by the Minister of Health before adoption, but could come to council this June.
Changes to the bylaw include increasing the no-smoking buffer around buildings from six metres to 10 and designating public plazas such as the Village Stroll as non-smoking.
The Valley Trail will be added to the current 25-metre buffer from parks, transit stops, schools and playgrounds.
"We hope to achieve voluntary compliance through educating the public and businesses. Bylaw Services will continue to respond (to) complaints," an RMOW spokesperson said in an email.
"There will be proactive enforcement on our regular foot patrols in high-traffic areas such as Whistler's parks and the Village Stroll."
Council endorsed the agreement with VCH at its April 11 meeting.
Other stated areas of focus under the agreement are around road and pedestrian safety and to better prepare Whistler residents in the event of an emergency.
"The healthy communities initiative recognizes the critical role of local, social and physical infrastructure in promoting health and wellbeing, recognizing that the primary focus for health services still rests within the Ministry of Health and the regional health authorities," said acting manager of protective services Lindsay DeBou in a presentation to council.
"The partnership initiative seeks to identify strategies for working with local governments on local initiatives which could promote health and prevent chronic diseases."
The two parties will meet annually to review priorities under the agreement.
"At this time, this is not a commitment for any financial investment," DeBou said.
"Staff will come to council to inform you if we have any budget considerations, and we will be presenting to you regular updates on our agreement and partnership."
Councillor Jen Ford asked if council and the rest of the community would have some input on the future direction of the agreement.
"In particular, I'm really hopeful that we can address some mental health access issues for members of the community and within the corridor," Ford said.
"I would love to see that to see that higher on the list."
Coun. Sue Maxwell agreed with Ford, noting that she'd like to see a focus on health equity.
"We have a lot of seasonal workers who might not have the same access to health care as some of our other residents," she said, adding that she'd also like to see the agreement address binge drinking and climate-change reduction and preparedness.
COMMUNITY CLEAN UP FOR SPRING
With warming temperatures and plenty of rain, the snow on the valley floor is on its way out — which means a winter's worth of garbage is ready for clean up.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler has a number of initiatives lined up to help residents beautify the community in the coming weeks.
It starts with yard waste drop off from April 21 to 23 and May 12 to 14 at the Spruce Grove Baseball Field overflow parking lot.
Grass, leaves, branches and twigs, weeds and house plants (without pots) and minimal dirt or sand will be accepted.
Invasive plants will be accepted but residents are asked to keep them separate, and dispose of them into bins marked "invasive only."
Plastic bags, rocks, wood with paint or glue, and plywood or fiberboard will not be accepted.
Check www.whistler.ca/free-yard-waste-drop-weekends for more info.
From April 28 to May 15, homeowners can safely burn their garden debris with a permit from the Whistler Fire Rescue Service (WFRS).
Residents can also get a FireSmart assessment through the permit process — call 604-935-8260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
It all culminates with Pitch-In Day on May 6.
Hundreds of volunteers, including community groups and sports teams, will join together to pick up garbage in neighbourhoods from Emerald to Function Junction.
Anyone interested in helping out can email email@example.com.
Participants will be treated to a barbecue hosted by the WFRS and sponsored by Nesters, IGA, the Village Grocery Store and Pitch-In Canada.
Residents are also reminded to clean up after their pets and manage bear attractants.
Bear activity and encounters in residential areas should be reported to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or 604-905-BEAR.
For more info on Whistler's bears head to www.whistler.ca/bears.
— Braden Dupuis
CHAMBER EXCELLENCE AWARDS FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Shine those shoes and straighten that tie — the 2017 Whistler Excellence Awards are just around the corner.
The annual Whistler Chamber gala is set for Thursday, May 11 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, presented by Blue Shore Financial and supported by the Community Foundation of Whistler and Arts Whistler, and will once again celebrate excellence in the areas of service, innovation, sustainability, the arts, community service and more.
This year's theme is Igniting Excellence, and the event will be hosted by Feet Banks for the second year in a row. With 320 tickets already sold, the Whistler Chamber expects this year's gala to be the largest to date.
For full event details and to see the list of nominees head to www.whistlerchamber.com.
— Braden Dupuis
VAIL RESORTS DONATES TO FIRST NATIONS
Vail Resorts has given the American Friends of Whistler a US$250,000 grant.
The money will support children of the Lil'wat and Squamish Nations by rebuilding a community school and launching a youth sports and mentoring program. Part of the grant will be used to construct a log-cabin structure that will be used as a traditional Ishkin (a dug out longhouse) with a classroom and kitchen. The classroom will host Lil'wat youth aged four to eight years old in a language-immersion program.
"The proposed new building for the Xit'olacw Community School Language Immersion program will serve a great need in our community, as the present building is very old with serious issues and urgently needs to be replaced," said Verna Stage, Xit'olacw Community school administrator.
"The new building will allow us to expand the program and will benefit approximately 30 students each year. The Immersion Ucwalmícwts program serves the community as one important aspect in revitalizing the language, which is crucial to retaining the culture and Lil'wat way of life."
Other funds from the grant will go towards the development and launch of a Squamish Nation sports and athletes development program. There are currently no programs available to help provide leadership skills, a connection to the outdoors and sports and fitness for youth of the Squamish Nation. The program will focus on leadership skills through sports and providing insight into the traditions and culture of the Squamish Nation. Every youth in the Squamish Nation will be involved in the program.
Meanwhile, Lil'wat youth aged 15 to 18 years old will be able to ski for free on Whistler and Blackcomb next season provided they can demonstrate that they can slide safely and have completed a mountain awareness session. Whistler Blackcomb is also offering complimentary ski/ride lift rental and lesson packages to youth aged five to 18 years old next season.
— Clare Ogilvie