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Whistler’s waste system a diamond in the rough?


When Councillor Eckhard Zeidler says he’d like to use a metaphor, you can bet it’s not going to be a cheap one.

An analysis of Whistler’s waste management system, particularly in relation to bears, led Zeidler to proclaim Monday: “We have a diamond- and ruby-encrusted anus that we’ve built, but this report shows we have a restriction in the colon.”

Zeidler was referring to the large capital investment Whistler has made in a compost facility, a new waste transfer station and the sewage treatment plant.

His comments came following an analysis of municipal options for neighbourhood waste disposal by Heather Beresford. The analysis was initiated by a presentation to council in December by the Whistler Bear Working Group.

Beresford’s analysis concluded that due to the high cost of neighbourhood waste disposal systems the municipality should maintain the status quo; that is, residents continue to take their garbage to one of the compactor sites.

That didn’t sit well with some council members.

“As a minimum, I’d like to get into a pilot project,” said Zeidler. “Let’s spend some money to start to solve this.”

Councillor Tim Wake said he was disappointed by the analysis.

“I don’t think we’re meeting ‘the Whistler standard’,” Wake said. “I’d like staff to go back and tell us what we can do, not what we can’t do.”

Councillor Gord McKeever, who announced he wasn’t going to use a metaphor, said he, too, would like staff to reconsider a simple pilot program for waste disposal, such as a truck and trailer with disposal bins that visits a neighbourhood once a week.

However, Mayor Ken Melamed said he couldn’t see the connection “between making it easier for people to throw away their garbage and bears being killed.”

He pointed out that Zeidler had a bear break into his house last summer, even though there was no garbage or food around to tempt the bear into the house.

“It’s kind of like the trees on Lot 1 and 9 — it’s an emotional issue, not an environmental issue,” Melamed said.

“I weep for every bear killed,” Melamed continued, “but bears are not an endangered species.

“I don’t see this pilot project achieving that goal (of reducing bear-human conflicts).”

Melamed suggested that the obstacles to waste management are not so great that Whistler needs a new garbage system. Individuals can cut down on the amount of waste they produce at home and people without vehicles can use 20-litre sealed plastic containers to carry waste on the bus to the compactors.

“If council wants to go to a pilot project then let’s have a motion to increase the budget,” Melamed said.

A motion was passed to refer the matter back to staff for further work.


Two buildings approved

Development permit applications for two buildings in Cheakamus Crossing, also known as the Whistler Athletes’ Village, were approved by council Monday.

One project is a four-storey, 33-unit building that includes four retail spaces and a restaurant. The building, on Lot 8 in Cheakamus Crossing, is the final building the core area. The 33 units are all resident restricted.

The second project is comprised of five three-storey residential buildings containing 27 resident-restricted units. The units, being built on Lot 4, contain flex-space, which could be storage space or converted to a bedroom.


CC1 bylaws get third reading

A series of CC1 bylaws governing redevelopment of the commercial core area the original village were given third reading by council Monday.


Meeting cancelled

The council meeting scheduled for June 2 has been cancelled, as most councilors and some municipal staff will be attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference in Quebec City.

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