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Whistler wants review of private composting facility

Report on potential upgrades to RMOW facility expected



Whistler has written a letter to the Ministry of Environment over concerns with the new composting facility north of town and how it may impact the region's solid waste plan.

Specifically, municipal staff is asking that the Solid Waste Management Plan amendment process is followed to ensure the Sea to Sky Soils facility is not detrimental to overall solid waste management in the Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

Staff called it a "very large facility" in its report before council at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

It has been open for just a few months, operating out of the Rutherford area, and now its proponent Mateo Ocejo is looking for Whistler's food waste.

But Whistler needs the food waste too, particularly if it moves ahead with upgrades to the municipal compost facility designed to stem the flow of biosolids getting shipped out of Whistler at certain times.

James Hallisey, manager of environmental projects, explained that the municipality could stop shipping some of its biosolids south of the border by potentially making capital improvements to the relatively new $12 million Whistler composter.

Staff is expecting a final draft of a report on a cost/benefit analysis of the Whistler composting facility this week. It will need food waste to make it financially sound.

"If we expand the capacity of our tunnels, we want to put more stuff in there," he said.

If, for example, Whistler builds a storage facility to keep its wood chips dry, that could also help process the biosolids and the food waste into the Class A topsoil.

That's not the same soil Sea to Sky Soil promises. Theirs, they say, can be used in organic farming.  Unlike Whistler's soil, there are no biosolids at the other facility.

There was some debate at the committee table on whether or not Sea to Sky Soils is a truly certified organic product that can be used in a truly organic farm.

"If it can or can't, it seems to me there are two separate mixes," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"Can we clarify that?"

Staff added that there's nothing to prevent Sea to Sky Soils from canvassing local restaurants and hotels for food waste.

Councillor Jayson Faulkner added: "I don't see how we can make any good decisions on this without it going through an amendment."

Cell tower proposals to expand service but aesthetics a concern

Council is still concerned about the proliferation of cell towers with two new towers continuing to raise alarm bells.

When she learned that Whistler already has 31 cell towers, the mayor declared: "31! Then we're not going to be erecting new ones."

Of course, that may be out of Whistler's hands with higher levels of government claiming cell tower jurisdiction.

But council's concern over another 41-metre tower in Alpine Meadows and a 37-metre tower at the corner of Lorimer Road and Highway 99 is clear.

"Every time I drive into Alpine I curse the one that's there — the 41-metre one," said Wilhelm-Morden referring to the existing cell tower above her Alpine home.

The new towers are from Wind Mobile looking to expand its service in the Whistler area.

"It's really important that we all work together in a collaborative way," said Erica Rigik, Wind Mobile's manager of real estate and municipal affairs, western region, at the Committee of the Whole meeting.

Municipal manager of resort planning Mike Kirkegaard called the two towers "significant proposals."

The municipality is trying to understand what its role is and its ability to influence decisions.

The Lorimer tower is of particular concern. Wind Mobile is planning on building a monopine, a tower disguised as a pine tree.

"We're very concerned about the location relative to the highway corridor and the entry/arrival experience for our guests into the village," said Kirkegaard.