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Sea to Sky Soils wants Whistler's food waste

RMOW staff to report back on logistics of request

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The municipal engineering department will be reporting back to council on whether or not Whistler can take its food waste to a neighbouring compost facility.

"There were quite a number of unanswered questions that we just need staff to report back to us about," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden this week.

She is referring to last Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting where proponents of Sea to Sky Soils made the pitch for Whistler to divert its food waste to their organic recycling facility in the Rutherford area.

Unlike the Whistler composting facility south of Function Junction, which mixes biosolids with food waste, Sea to Sky Soils does not include biosolids in its process.

As such, its end soil product can then be used in organic farming.

The facility has been operational since September and the company's operators are looking for more food waste.

"The theory is if we took some of the food waste (from the Whistler plant) and diverted it to this group up north then we would have more capacity to take biosolids," said the mayor, referring to the fact that there are times when Whistler's biosolids need to be trucked to the U.S. landfill because the composting facility is over capacity.

"We're looking for our engineering department to come back with some suggestions about whether we can accommodate the request, whether the request needs a full scale amendment to the solid waste plan that the regional district has," said the mayor.

Proponent Mateo Ocejo is asking for all the food waste to go to the Rutherford, leaving the Whistler plant to process biosolids alone.

"We want to grow a soil product that can be used to support organic farming," he said of the soil produced at the facility.

Plastic bag ban up for debate

The mayor has opened the door for further debate on plastic bag use in Whistler.

After a meeting with two Grade 6 students from Spring Creek, Wilhelm-Morden brought the issue of a plastic bag ban before council last week.

It directed staff to bring back a report, even if it's the previous report, so council can consider the ramifications of a plastic bag ban.

"It's something that I think is worthwhile looking at again," said Wilhelm-Morden.

"What I would propose is that to refer the issue to staff and ask for something to come back," she said.

Two years ago council of the day nixed a bylaw endorsing a resort-wide ban on plastic bags

In June 2011 council then voted to continue increasing awareness about a voluntary reduction in plastic bag use, a move welcomed by local grocers.

At that time council also voted for a six-month review of plastic bag use within the municipality, directing staff to establish a baseline of current plastic bag consumption and measure the effectiveness of a voluntary ban and continued education and outreach.

Upcoming open house reveals proposed muni budget

The community will get an early glimpse of the 2013 municipal budget at the upcoming Dec. 6 open house.

Among other things, the night will include an overview of the budget, small table discussions about key community issues and an update of the Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) Committee work, which includes an overview of the trends across the Whistler economy.

There will also be a question and answer period.

The municipality will also be launching a topic page on PlaceSpeak, an online platform for location-based community discussions. Community members will be able to register to try this tool at the open house and to continue discussions or complete a survey from home.

To get involved, attend the open house from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre on Thursday Dec. 6. Or send questions to budget@whistler.ca.

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