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WB Foundation gives Sea to Sky charities $170K

Restaurant Association of Whistler also gets into the spirit of giving this week



The major Whistler Blackcomb Foundation grant this season is good news for skiers and bikers in Pemberton.

"It's incredible," said Jessica Turner, president of the Pemberton BMX Society.

Turner learned about six weeks ago that her organization was getting a joint grant of $40,000 with the Village of Pemberton to improve the recently built snow skills area and the BMX track.

The major donation from the foundation will allow the BMX club to expand the track and raise the height of the start hill, said Turner.

"We've decided to become a sanctioned track," said Turner.

Becoming a sanctioned track will pave the way for big races that could attract competitors from other communities. The group hopes to complete the track upgrades by spring.

Since the track was constructed earlier this year, Turner said a large number of kids aged 10 and under have been using it with their parents on a regular basis.

Foundation grant money also means the Whistler Museum and Archives is now one step closer to completing its new skiing heritage exhibit.

Brad Nichols said the exhibit focuses on the development of Whistler with two early ski operations at Rainbow and Cypress Lodge featured along with the work of Franz Wilhelmsen to build Whistler Mountain.

"We're going to redesign a part of the museum specifically about the evolution of skiing in Whistler," said Nichols of how the $15,000 grant will be used.

Other organizations that benefited from this round of WB Foundation awards include: Signal Hill Elementary — $30,000 for playground equipment, Whistler Secondary — $4,600 for gymnasium wall padding and athletic supplies, Britannia Beach Fire Department — $25,000 for new equipment, Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Club — $10,000 for an Olympic size trampoline, Sea to Sky Community Services — $8,500 for the Pemberton Food Bank and the Whistler Parent Tot Program, Whistler Community Services Society — $6,000 to purchase a new recycling truck, Squamish Food Bank Society — $5,000 for food, Whistler Waldorf School — $7,350 for the computer and science lab, and the Cheakamus Community Garden — $5,000 to purchase boxes and soil.

The Foundation also matched $30,000 in Whistler Blackcomb employee donations to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Environmental Fund.

Other organizations that received funding were: Zero Ceiling, the Walk Safe Program, Howe Sound Women's Centre Society and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Sea to Sky Corridor.

The foundation holds two major fundraising events each year. The TELUS Winter Classic is set for Jan. 25 and 26. The foundation has donated more than $7.5 million in grants since the organization was created in 1993. Groups looking for funding have until April 1 to submit applications to the foundation for grants this summer.

This is the season of giving and the Restaurant Association of Whistler (RAW) got into the spirit of it this week as well presenting cheques to four organizations. According to the president of the association, Michael Brisbois, the Cancer Society got a cheque for $3,000 while the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS) and the Whistler Food Bank each got $1,000. Alan Sacks received $1,000 to go to the BC Hospital Foundation.

The $6,000 was raised by the organization through its annual charity golf tournament held each August in memory of restaurateur Joel Thibault.

"Their donation of $1,000 was enthusiastically received," said Sylvia Dolson of GBS adding that the money will be used in the creation of the society's Bear Smart Restaurant program next season.

"We are incredibly grateful for the support of each organization, especially in light of the tragic loss of Jeanie as a result of conflict at Village restaurants and the ongoing problem this year with Re-Pete and other bears accessing garbage in the Village."