News » Mountain News

Mountain News:

Whistler mayor hopes to get Canmore into Step


Compiled by Allen Best

CANMORE, Alberta — Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly was in Canmore recently to talk about the Natural Step, a way of defining and moving toward environmental sustainability. Whistler is the first government in Canada to embrace the Natural Step, and O’Reilly and allies think Canmore is a strong candidate to become the second.

"I think it’s the perfect place because we have a lot of really creative and bright people here," Dr. Melanie Watt, executive director of the Biosphere Institute, told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. "I think it attracts those kinds of people, those who are interested in sustainability." Her group has been investigating Natural Step for the last two years.

Natural Step was developed in 1989 by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robért, an oncologist from Sweden who linked a rise in leukemia among children to increased toxins stemming from human production processes. Working with a physicist, John Holmberg, Robért established a set of guiding principles for sustainability based on thermodyamics and natural cycles.

Whistler’s O’Reilly was scheduled to speak to eight businesses and organizations in Canmore. If they go forward, participants will attend a series of 10 workshops, and then become role models within the community. "We can be so much more energy efficient with minimal change," he said.

The Home Depot, McDonald’s, and the Bank of America have embraced the Natural Step, while many Western European communities have incorporated principles into their daily lives. Still, the ideals of the philosophy have been slow to catch on in North America. O’Reilly believes it’s only a matter of time before Canadians and Americans discard their wasteful ways. "It’s coming," he said. "We’re starting to see it, but we’ve had a sense of entitlement that comes with having these raw resources."

Drug use not as open

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Clearly, drug use is not as open now as it was 20 or even 30 years ago in ski towns. Then, people laid out lines of cocaine on restaurant tables in Winter Park, Breckenridge, and any number of other mountain towns. In Vail, 20 or more skiers would gather at a time at an on-mountain shack to puff pot. They don’t any more – gather at one place.

But has drug use declined since then? Statistics are scant, perhaps non-existent. What is clear is that attitudes have changed.

Until the early 1980s, cops gave drunk-drivers lifts to their homes instead of jail. More recently, the ski companies began making drug tests a prerequisite for employment. In addition, the demographics of ski towns have changed. Instead of being primarily people in their 20s, the median age is now in the 30s, and with plenty of grey hair at the high end. This new demographic dilutes the party scene, and maybe even makes it a minority, notes the Summit Daily News.