Every year at the National Ski Areas Association annual general meeting, Mountain Sports Media the parent company of Ski and Skiing magazines presents environmental awards to participating mountains for their green initatives. While Whistler-Blackcomb has yet to take home the biggest award they made significant inroads this year.
On June 11 in New Orleans, MSM presented Whistler-Blackcomb with the Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Stakeholder Relations. And for the fourth time in five years, Whistler-Blackcomb was a finalist for the Golden Eagle Award for overall Environmental Excellence.
"This really belongs to the community," said Arthur DeJong, mountain planner and environmental resource manager for Whistler-Blackcomb, of the Silver Eagle Award. "If the community was not as willing to partner with us as we try to become more sustainable as a resort, we wouldnt have won this award."
According to DeJong, Whistler-Blackcombs decision to adopt The Natural Step framework, along with other early adopters, was one initiative that MSM paid special attention to. MSM believes that it shows excellent stakeholder relations by involving and benefiting the whole community, and providing leadership for other resorts.
"Whistler has once again demonstrated that a for-profit company can be environmentally responsible by being responsive to the concerns and needs of those with an interest in the resorts operations," stated the MSM judges.
The Whistler-Blackcomb sponsored Habitat Improvement Team (HIT) was another positive initiative, motivating employees and volunteers to donate their time to tackle projects like erosion control, garbage cleaning and tree planting. The Whistler-Blackcomb Streamkeepers, a HIT project that works to rehabilitate local wetlands during a weekend in August, was also mentioned.
Another initiative that was recognized was the Whistler-Blackcomb staff Environmental Fund, whereby employees donate a portion of their wages to the Environmental Fund, which is then matched by the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation. To date nearly $25,000 has been raised to support local environmental projects.
The foundation itself has raised over $2 million for registered non-profit organizations in the Sea to Sky corridor, including $860,000 for childcare.
Additionally, MSM recognized the Whistler-Blackcomb Youth Outreach Program, which brings over 300 city youth to the resort each summer to take part in on-mountain activities. The goal is to educated youths about the mountain environment and to inspire passion for the mountains.
"Weve been doing excellent work internally to get people involved, and the support from our senior leadership has been phenomenal," said DeJong. "They work with stakeholders, and our stakeholders are willing to work with us."