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Municipality vows to become carbon neutral by 2010

Aggressive timeline will mean purchasing up to $50,000 worth of carbon offsets



If the municipality has it their way, Whistler will be the first carbon neutral community in Canada - by next year.

This week, council gave the municipality's ambitious "Carbon Neutral Operations Plan" the green light and committed Whistler to drop its carbon emissions 10 per cent next year and 30 per cent by 2015. Whistler would purchase carbon offsets to bring its net emissions to zero.

The timeline is aggressive. And if followed, Whistler will be two years ahead of the other 175 municipalities that have signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter.

"Sustainability is a global issue, and Whistler's interest if we want to protect the prosperity of the resort is we need to get carbon emissions neutral," said Mayor Ken Melamed.

Not all councillors are on board with the carbon plan, however.

Both Councillor Ralph Forsyth and Ted Milner took issue with the part of the plan that proposes up to $50,000 of Whistler taxpayers' money be spent outside of the community each year to offset the municipality's remaining emissions.

"I think taxpayers' money should be used in our town to track what we have done and to further the kinds of projects that will save us emissions," said Milner.

Forsyth added he doesn't understand why the municipality is adopting the carbon plan two years before it has to under the B.C. Climate Charter.

Through the plan, 50 per cent of the offset purchase will go towards the provincial government's new Crown corporation, Pacific Carbon Trust. If the municipality decreases its carbon footprint as hoped, added sustainability coordinator Naomi Devine, this cost will decrease to $45,000 in 2013 and $38,000 in 2015.

She added that the goals outlined in the carbon plan are "achievable."

The other five council members around the table were on board with the proposal, with Councillor Grant Lamont saying: "I am excited about this, and I think it is good."

The plan is just one of the actions council has taken in the past year to monitor emissions and energy output. Earlier this year, council voted to add carbon emissions targets to its Official Community Plan (OCP.)