Whistler’s Environmental History part 3: Olympic Ambitions

Around the same time that environmental activists were fighting to save old-growth forest in the upper Elaho Valley, AWARE’s leadership was fighting its own battle to bring some sort of focus and coherence to the organization. According to a June 15, 2000 article in the Pique, at one AWARE meeting more than 50 different environmental issues that had been raised as concerns by members. Voting was undertaken to identify key priorities, with resolving the Elaho conflict, continuing to protect Whistler’s wetland, and further involvement in regional land-management processes identified as key concerns. More than anything it seems, core members wanted the group to return to its pro-active roots, offering solutions (like recycling) rather than simply identifying problems. 

A few years later, as with everything in Whistler, things got a little sidetracked by a little announcement in July 2003. Once again, AWARE’s organizational strategies were forced to respond to broad changes in Whistler’s economic and political landscape. With the coming of the Olympics, and the potential for major infrastructure expansion yet again, AWARE set about ensuring any development was as environmentally sound as possible, while leveraging the push for Olympic legacies to get more important habitat set aside.

The cover of a multi-page pamphlet promoting Olympics-related wilderness conservation, produced by AWARE.

The cover of a multi-page pamphlet promoting Olympics-related wilderness conservation, produced by AWARE.

These efforts led to major protected areas in the upper Callaghan and Soo Valleys. Today, while opinions on the overall Olympic Legacy are mixed, in his recent Speaker Series Ken had this to say:

Now, in a post-Olympic Whistler, AWARE has returned its focus to wetlands conservation (for example, the Zen Lands), old-growth forests and logging, and education.

On this last point, the Whistler Museum is excited to announce a new partner program with AWARE to help disseminate environmental ideas and discussion throughout the community. Starting Wednesday May 1st, and continuing the first Wednesday of every second month after that, we will be hosting “Green Talks.” These will be evening presentations on any and all environmentally themed topics. The first Green Talks will be all about growing food in Whistler: what to plant for our wet, mountain climate, how to grow it, and how to eat it!

Green Talks will provide the Whistler community with an excellent opportunity to stay informed of the latest environmental news and initiatives, meet like-minded environmental enthusiasts, get involved in important one of Whistler’s longest-standing community organizations, and, of course, hang out at the Whistler Museum! Stay tuned for more details soon.

This is just the latest initiative in a 25-year run for AWARE, making Whistler a greener, healthier, and happier place. We hope to see you there! For more info on AWARE, check out awarewhistler.org

One response to “Whistler’s Environmental History part 3: Olympic Ambitions

  1. Pingback: Building AWAREness | Whistorical

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