By Erin Romanchuk
Whistler Centre for Sustainability
"The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination," declared artist Deborah James. To create the future we want it is imperative we watch where we are going to avoid damaging mistakes, or get lost along the way.
The results of the 2010 Whistler2020 Monitoring Report guide us toward Whistler's five community priorities - Enhancing the Resort Experience, Enriching Community Life, Ensuring Economic Viability, Protecting the Environment and Partnering for Success. They were made public last month and are already putting the spotlight on some areas in need of more focused steps before we lose our way.
The Whistler Centre for Sustainability annually updates the resort community's dashboard, tracking performance on behalf of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) as part of Whistler2020, Whistler's comprehensive plan and vision for success and sustainability. The RMOW has been monitoring trends since 1993 as part of the Resort Community Monitoring Program. In 2005 this evolved in to a more robust, community-driven process with the creation of Whistler2020 where Whistlerites decided what matters to them by defining success for each of the 17 strategy areas, and developed connected indicators to track our yearly performance.
In 2010, the total amount of materials used in Whistler was a negative trend. This number has been steadily increasing since 2006, and is at an all-time high. Also since 2006, Whistler residents have experienced a consistent increase in the number of permanent residents with incomes below basic living costs - another trend away from our vision.
One of the major benefits of tracking indicators is to provide us with detailed information. Once this detailed infor mation is in hand, it can be used to inform the decisions and actions taken in order to avoid moving further away from our vision to be the premier mountain resort community - as we move toward sustainability.
According to Lorna Van Straaten, Executive Director, with the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) they use Whistler2020 indicators to better focus their decisions and efforts.
"Based on the information contained in the Landfilled Waste indicator (construction waste makes up 27 per cent of the landfilled waste and that it was trending up away from the vision), in partnership with the Construction Industry - in the form of the Canadian Home Builders Sea-to-Sky, WCSS designed a business plan to open a new retail store: The Re-Build-It Centre," Van Straaten said.
This is exactly the type of action the indicators are meant to drive. The introduction of the Re-Build-It Centre, in response to the increasing amount of materials being sent to the landfill from the industrial and construction sector, is one step sure to move our community in the right direction.
"The long-term strategic planning of WCSS as an agency references Whistler 2020 as a community partner and as a major influencer in our business and community planning," said Van Straaten. Whistler2020 involves 53 other community partners who have pledged to do just this, with the belief that creating the future together is the best way to create something that positively impacts us all.
Taking actions that have a positive influence in the areas most needed is the most effective way for our community to actively progress our journey toward a continued success.
A number of indicators are trending toward our vision, especially those having to do with the visitor experience as summer visitors in 2010 overwhelmingly reported having a "very satisfying" experience with their stay in Whistler. Also trending towards the community's vision is the total greenhouse gas emissions created from the use of electricity and from our tailpipes, which has been declining for four consecutive years.
Go to www.whistler2020.ca to view Whistler's performance toward our Whistler2020 vision and think about how you can shift action to keep our resort community on track.