The debate over the merits and pitfalls of diesel and natural gas fuels was brought to council Tuesday night.
In a presentation Gottfried Muench, president of Cummins Western Canada, a company making and designing engines for alternative fuels, put to rest some of the myths surrounding the two fuels.
“This is a very complex subject,” he said.
“There’s lots of choices today.”
And there are pros and cons to each of those choices.
His recommendation to council, however, was that natural gas was the best choice for a Whistler bus fleet.
While diesel costs less, and though it has come a long way in terms of its emissions, natural gas is still lower in emissions.
Some of the reasons for supporting natural gas were that there is support for that fuel in the community, it’s not that much more expensive than diesel and it’s cleaner.
Natural gas is more expensive to buy and maintain but the fuel is cheaper. And with a natural gas pipeline all the way to Whistler, the price for the fuel could be lower as more customers subscribe.
“We think it’s a great fit for you,” added Gordon Exel, vice president and general manager, Americas, for the same company.
Councillor Eckhard Zeidler spoke to the mass of misinformation that’s circulated about these alternative fuels, even at the highest decision making levels.
He also spoke to the importance of keeping a flexible platform, meaning that any investment Whistler makes shouldn’t take it down a dead end but should be able to morph as technology and information changes.
“We need all the flexibility we can get,” he said.
“There’s a lot more flexibility in natural gas than there is in diesel.”
The municipal fleet recently switched to biodiesel fuel while transitioning to alternatives such as hybrids, natural gas and electric vehicles as these technologies become available. Whistler will showcase hydrogen buses in the resort during and after the 2010 Winter Games.
Get Bear Smart Society asks for council workshop
The Get Bear Smart Society (GBSS) is looking for help from council for Whistler’s black bears.
“The current system is not working,” said Sylvia Dolson, executive director of GBSS.
“We need a waste management system that works for everyone.”
Dolson asked council for a workshop meeting sooner rather than later so that any decisions could be included in the 2008 financial plan.
Mayor Ken Melamed said it was disheartening to hear that the bear proof garbage bins were not in fact bear proof after the municipality invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We have been investing significant dollars in trying to be responsive to the issue,” he said. “I don’t think it’s for lack of trying.”
Dolson said those garbage containers can still be salvaged with a little modifications to deter bears, such as burying the bases to prevent bears from tipping them over and securing the latch at the back.
“We haven’t lost everything on those,” she said. “We just need to improve them somewhat.”
Last year there were 1,240 calls to the conservation officers dealing with bears. This year to date there have been 900 calls and the busy fall bear season is just beginning.
Nine bears were destroyed last year. Seven have been destroyed this year.
The number one priority, said Dolson, is securing garbage.
Nicklaus North gets go-ahead
The developers of Nicklaus North got the green light to build out the last housing phase of their development.
With council’s approval of new amenities, the developers will now move forward with 39 single family homes on the west side of Highway 99 at Nicklaus North.
The new amenities include a Valley Trail addition from the CN Rail crossing to the Riverside Campground, as well as a pedestrian-activated signal at Highway 99 and Nicklaus North Boulevard and a bridge over the River of Golden Dreams on the west side of the highway.