Rates From $
Check In
Check Out

Canada’s Greenest Employers: Whistler Blackcomb Named In Top 100

Hiking High Note Trail on Whistler Mountain
Whistler Blackcomb celebrated Earth Day by once again being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers. For the 8th consecutive year, Whistler Blackcomb has been awarded this distinction by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for its proactive approach towards sustainability and energy conservation.

We take environmental sustainability seriously. We make an effort to integrate sustainable and energy conservation practices into everything we do so it is always wonderful to be recognized. It is by the grace of our dedicated employees that we are able to achieve this distinction year after year. – Dave Brownlie President and CEO at Whistler Blackcomb.

Whistler Blackcomb has worked with BC Hydro for over 10 years on conservation initiatives as a Power Smart Leader in British Columbia.  Conservation and sustainability are deeply embedded into the corporate culture at Whistler Blackcomb due to the operation and their staff and community being so highly connected to the natural environment.

The Every Step Counts team, a cross-divisional team of 15 employees, strategically plan and execute campaigns and programs to increase awareness and behavioural change both at work and at home.  In 2015, Whistler Blackcomb reduced energy consumption by a further 890,000 kWh through lighting and mechanical retrofits and operational changes.  That’s enough to power 89 homes in BC for a year. To date, the Every Step Counts team has changed out over 15,000 light bulbs to more energy-efficient models.  Whistler Blackcomb also has an employee carpooling program using fleet vehicles to transport staff members from Squamish and Pemberton that saves 360 tonnes of emissions per year.

“For years, we advanced the argument that building environmental values into your workplace culture helped organizations reduce waste and recognize the true costs of doing business,” says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor at Mediacorp. “Today, we’ve moved well beyond the business case to the point where we can say that a large part of Canadian society now expects the organizations they deal with to incorporate sustainable business practices into their operations.”

Now entering its 10th year, Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes employers who lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness. Whistler Blackcomb was chosen for, among other reasons, their long history of working with community stakeholders on local environmental initiatives. Whistler Blackcomb, through the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, matches dollar-for-dollar employee contributions to the environmental fund — over $340,000 has been donated to specific environmental projects since 2001. For more information about the recognition, please visit: http://content.eluta.ca/top-employer-whistler-blackcomb.

Feature image: Mitch Winton

For more information about Whistler Blackcomb’s environmental initiatives, please visit: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/about-us/environment.

Whistler Wildfires 101 & Things You Should Know About The Smoke

Wildfires happen every year in and around Whistler, BC, and they are a natural part of the ecosystem. But this year we’ve had an unusually hot start to the summer that has brought wildfire season rushing forward.

“Wildfires, when allowed to burn in areas where they do not impact human development, are regenerative for the forest. They revitalize the watershed, renew the soil, and reset the clock for the ecosystem” according to Dr. Timothy B. Mihuc from the University of Plattsburgh, New York.

However, if you’re not familiar with wildfires, the presence of all the smoke in the valley can be disconcerting, so we hope this post will help you understand the situation better and put any concerns at ease during your stay in Whistler.

Where are the Whistler wildfires?

At the time of writing this post (July 6th 2015) there three wildfires contributing to the dense smoke lingering in the Whistler valley:

1. Boulder Creek: approximately 60 kilometres from Whistler

2. Elaho: than 100 kilometres from Whistler

3. Old Sechelt Mine: approximately 160 kilometres from Whistler, on the Sunshine Coast

No change as of July 7th.

Whistler Wildfires 2015

What is a wildfire?

The B.C Ministry Of Forest And Range defines a wildfire as “An unplanned or unwanted natural or human-caused fire”. The Boulder Creek and Elaho fires were caused by lightening, and the Old Sechelt Mine fire is under investigation as suspected human-caused fire.

Is Whistler at risk from these wildfires?

Information from B.C Wildfire suggests that Whistler is not at risk from these wildfires, though the fires are responsible for the dense smoke that is currently lingering in the Sea-to-Sky corridor between Vancouver and Lillooet.

Where is the smoke coming from and why is it lingering?

The smoke is being funnelled through the mountain valleys from all three fires our region. The significant amount of smoke in Whistler is the result of what B.C. Air Quality calls an “airshed” or “airbasin”: areas where the movement of air pollution is hindered by natural geological features, weather and wind.

What is the Air Quality Advisory and what does it mean for me?

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 18.50.12

* Change in Air Quality as of 8.30am July 7th, still AQHI rating of 10.
* Change to Air Quality as of 11.40am July 7th, AQHI rating back up to 11.
* Change to Air Quality as of 2.30pm July 7th, AQHI rating has tripled from this morning. Now at 35.
* Change to Air Quality as of 8pm July 7th, AQHI rating is now back down to 11.
* Change to Air Quality  as of 8pm July 8th, AQHI rating has fallen to 8 (and the bird are singing!).
* Change to Air Quality as of 3pm July 8th, AQHI rating has risen to 11. The birds are still singing, though.
* Change to Air Quality as of 5.30pm July 8th, AQHI rating has risen to 13.
* Change to Air Quality as of 5.30pm July 9th, AQHI rating has fallen to 6.
* Change to Air Quality as of 6.30am July 10th, AQHI rating has fallen to 4.
An Air Quality Advisory is issued when air quality is degraded by unwanted chemicals or other materials that are released into the air in large enough amounts to harm the health of people, plants and animals, and our environment.

If you’re unfamiliar with wildfire smoke, it can be easy to let your subconscious treat it like fog or thick clouds and continue on with any activities you may have planned, but the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia warns that wildfire smoke can “pose an under-appreciated threat to the health of the entire province“. The UBC professors go on to say “People with heart and lung diseases are most sensitive to wildfire smoke, but absolutely everyone is affected by poor air quality on smoky days”.

Those with heart and lung diseases, who are in affected areas, should ensure that they have ample rescue medication, and a plan for seeking emergency care if rescue medications are inadequate to control any exacerbations.

If you have asthma or another respiratory disease or lung disease, consult a doctor if your symptoms worsen.

Here, you can get a daily update on air quality for Whistler and other areas of the Sea to Sky Corridor: bcairquality.ca/readings

Why is wildfire smoke dangerous to our health & what are the symptoms?

The biggest health threat comes from fine the particles that are thrust up into the atmosphere as the wildfire burns, and consumes materials in its path. The microscopic particles travel with the air (this is the smoke) and, if inhaled, can effect your respiratory system.

AirNow.gov says to be aware of symptoms that the smoke may be bothering you, such as:

irritated eyes
airways
coughing
a scratchy throat
irritated sinuses
headaches
stinging eyes
runny nose

If the above symptoms persist or become intolerable seek medical assistance and advice.

How to protect yourself from wildfire smoke

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.05.40

 

Use common sense: If it looks smoky outside you’re going to inhale the particles in the air so it’s probably not a good time to go for a strenuous hike or bike ride.

Maybe think about taking short walks, visiting Meadow Park Recreational Centre, the Squamish Lillooet Cultural Centre, Bounce Acrobatic Academy, Village 8 Movie Theatre,  the Whistler Village Museum, or the Whistler Library.

Whistler is currently (July 6th 2015) at an AQHI rating of 10, and was previously at 11. Environment Canada recommends you “reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 19.10.58

Take steps to keep particle levels lower indoors: Keep your windows and doors closed (unless it’s extremely hot outside), run your air conditioner, if you have one and keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. If you don’t have an air conditioner, try putting a wet/damp towel over a fan to trap the particles as they circulate. When particle levels are high, avoid activities that stirs up particles already inside your home such as vacuuming, and avoid burning candles.

Recommendations from: airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=smoke.index

If you have any more questions, the following services should be able to provide you with all the appropriate information:

www.bcairquality.ca

www.bcwildfire.ca

www.gov.bc.ca/for

www.facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo?fref=ts

www.twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo

3 Important & Over-Looked Benefits Of The Whistler Blackcomb Smoking Ban

Back in May, Whistler Blackcomb announced that “Smoking of any kind is prohibited on Whistler Blackcomb property”. The ban, which includes tobacco, marijuana, e-cigarettes and vaporizers, was met with mixed feelings. Many were excited to see the resort promoting the health and safety of it’s staff and guests, but a small number of people felt as though the resort’s smoke-free policy was a bit heavy-handed.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, here are 3 reasons why the ban is good for Whistler that we can all agree with:

Note: This post addresses the possible benefits from the ban of cigarettes, and the ban is only on Whistler Blackcomb property (not the whole of Whistler Village).

1. Prevention of human-caused wildfires

Natural wildfire suspected to have been started by lightening at Boulder Creek, near Pemberton that started on July 2nd, 2015. Photo from @mileoneeatinghouse via Instagram

We’re in for one of the hottest summers on Canadian record, according to CBC Radio. For fire-fighters this likely means a summer of being stretched to the max, just fighting natural wildfires. We’re privileged to live amongst nature, but if a wildfire were to breakout on the Whistler Blackcomb mountains it would have devastating effects.

When speaking to the Globe and Mail about an outbreak of human-caused wildfires in 2014, Wildfire Management Branch spokeswoman, Navi Saini said that “something as simple as throwing a cigarette out a window can cause a wildfire in the right weather conditions“.

In 2013, 30 per cent of BC’s nearly 2,000 wildfires were caused by people, according to statistics from the Wildfire Management Branch.

As a community, we all need to do everything we can to prevent human-caused wildfires, and it’s great to see Whistler Blackcomb leading the way.

2015 Wildfire Statistics: Below is a screenshot of wildfire statistics in BC from April 2015 – March 2016. As you can see we’re only 3 months into the year’s reporting and BC has already had 779 wildfires. Most shocking to see is that BC has had 6 “human-caused” wildfires in just the last 3 days (July 1st – 3rd, 2015)
Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 12.41.14

Whether you’re on Whistler Blackcomb property or not, this is a huge issue. No-one wants to be responsible for a wildfire, and with this ban in place, hopefully no-one in Whistler ever will.

2. Reducing litter

7657297

Cigarette butts are biodegradable, right? Nope. Wikipedia has biodegradable defined as “Biodegradable waste is a type of waste which can be broken down, in a matter of weeks or few months, into its base compounds by micro-organisms and other living things, regardless of what those compounds may be.”

Cigarette butts will break down, but it can take anywhere from 5 to 400 years – and it’s this common misconception (that cigarette butts will just disappear like a discarded apple core), that makes cigarette butts the most common type of litter in the world, with over with an estimated 4.5 trillion butts discarded annually.

Once flicked from a smokers fingers, and with the help of a some BC rainfall, these little un-assuming pieces of trash make their way from sidewalks and trails into our rivers, our lakes and eventually into the sea. It’s thought that cigarette butts account for 28% of all sand litter.

Hopefully promoting a smoke-free environment on the mountains will result in a drop in the number of unsightly, discarded cigarette butts on our hiking, biking and ski trails, and in our lakes.

3. Wildlife protection and stewardship

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 14.51.07
Photo from http://www.jaymiheimbuch.com/

As we discussed above, butts are not biodegradable, and each butt discarded in our beautiful environment instantly becomes a danger to domestic animals and wildlife who may ingest them, or choose to line their nests or homes with them.

But Whistler wildlife doesn’t have to come into direct contact with cigarette butts to be effected. The filter contains plastic that can take centuries to break down and leach toxic chemicals including nicotine, benzene and cadmium into the local soil and water supply.

A study at San Diego State University determined that cigarette butts are toxic to marine wildlife, and that “one cigarette butt has the ability to kill fish living in a one-litre bucket of water”. In all cases of the study, about half of the fish were killed with a very low concentration of cigarette butts.

1024px-Cyprinus_carpio_smoking-2

Professor of Public Health at SDSU, Richard Gersberg, made a sobering statement that “cigarette butts are toxic waste products”. In a presentation at SDSU the professor goes on to say “we encourage those who do smoke to treat the butts as hazardous waste to reduce the toxic waste contamination of our environment”.

Cigarettes in the environment is a litter issue – not a smoking issue. Please help us conserve our beautiful region by discarding of your cigarette butts in a responsible way. It’s possible, that this ban will go some-way to protecting our marine wildlife from the deadly effects of smoking.

Whether it’s cigarette butts, food wrappers or chemicals think:

“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories, kill nothing but time” and you won’t go far wrong.

Happy summer, folks!

Summit Lodge Native Wild Pollinator Conservation Project

Whistler is a place of spectacular natural beauty and as the popularity of our town has grown so has the footprint of our urban environment – sometimes at the expense of the wildlife that also calls Whistler its home.

This spring is the start of the Summit Lodge Native Wild Pollinator Conservation Project where, in consultation with the Elle Lab at SFU and the Beefriendly Native Bee Conservation Society, we are reinventing all of our outdoor spaces to create environments that are specifically designed for the conservation of Whistler’s native wild pollinators.

Why Are Native Wild Pollinators Important To Whistler?

Native wild pollinators play a huge role in the continued survival and growth of Whistler’s ecosystem:

– They are an essential part of reproduction for many plant species that require cross-pollination to occur

– Many animals rely on these cross-pollinating plants as part of their diet

– They are important for the pollination of agricultural plants as well as wild landscapes

– They pollinate everything from woodland trees, shrubs, fruit trees and plants

What Are Whistler’s Native Wild Pollinators?

Native wild pollinators includes all species of beetles, moths, bees, butterflies, flies and birds that visit flowers and are native to Whistler and the Western Coastal Hemlock Zone. Native wild pollinators are essentially any animal or insect that visits a flower for nectar or pollen.
While honey bees might the the first pollinator that comes to mind, they are not native to North America and can have a negative impact on the survival of native wild pollinators, such as the bumble bee.

Why We Won’t Be Getting Honey Bees As Part Of The Project

Honey bees are wonderful. They pollinate, they create honey, and they’re magnificent to watch work. However, the honey bee is considered an “agricultural animal” and recent research has shown that competition with honey bees reduces the foraging efficiency and reproductive success of bumble bees. Research also shows that honey bees force bumble bees off flowers, and that disease transmission is higher between honey bees and bumble bees that have to share the same plants.

A single honey bee hive can contain over 50,000 bees, who collectively remove hundred of pounds of nectar and tens of pounds of pollen from an area in a single year. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler  is already doing a great job with their four honey bee hives (totalling around 120,000 bees), and while they have a large garden to support the bees, to add more hives in our small community could contribute to a resource decline for bumble bees and other wild native pollinators.

Updates On The Summit Native Wild Pollinator Conservation Project

Throughout the year, as we reinvent all of our outdoor spaces, we will regularly update our social media, hotel news page and our blog with stories and invites to our community events. If you’d like to join us as a partner or sponsor for the project please get in touch at: hello@summitlodge.com

If you’d like to learn more about the project please visit:

Our hotel news page: summitlodge.com/news-events

Our blog: artofliving.summitlodge.com

Facebook: facebook.com/summit.lodge.whistler

Twitter: twitter.com/whistlersummit

Instagram: instagram.com/summitlodge

We’re Turning Out The Lights For Earth Hour

earth-hour-banner

Every March we celebrate Earth Hour’s symbolic “lights off” movement. Earth Hour started in 2007 as a small idea with a big goal: to unite people all over the world in one moment of solidarity, conversation, inspiration and action around climate change.

We are currently the only hotel and business in Whistler with an event registered to celebrate Earth Hour. One day we’d like the whole town to turn out the lights together, in one giant show of environmental consciousness for the beautiful province and country we love in. Please share this post and help us lead others to join Earth Hour, too.

Why do we celebrate Earth Hour?

As travel becomes more accessible and affordable we feel that as a hotel, and individually as stewards of our planet, it is our duty to be positive ambassadors for the protection of the environment that so many travel here to experience. We also believe that the hospitality industry, as a whole, has a responsibility to help guests live a sustainable lifestyle on vacation, as they would at home.

We are by no means a perfect gold-standard of sustainability, but we’re continually taking one more step to get us a little closer. Sharing Earth Hour with our guests is an important way to show that making a change is not about big grand gestures, but about striving to be better every day.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to make many ripples” – Mother Teresa

Enjoy the candlelight

We won’t leave you entirely in the dark on March 28th during Earth Hour, the hotel (and even the pool and hot tub) will be illuminated with the warm relaxing glow of candles and tea lights.

When is Earth Hour happening at the Summit Lodge

Date: March 28th, 2015
Time: 8.30pm – 9.30pm local time

Website: earthhour.org

Review: Leonardo DiCaprio’s UN Climate Change Summit is Brutally Honest and Rightly So

Two days ago, at the UN Climate Change Summit, Leonardo DiCaprio compelled the United Nations, and the world, to “make history” or “be vilified by it.​”.

In his first speech as UN Messenger of Peace the celebrity environmental activist told dignitaries that “this disaster has gone beyond just what individuals can do, it’s now about our industries and governments around the world taking decisive large scale action”.

Why Leo’s Speech is Important to Us

First and foremost, we love this planet we call home. We love the people, the trees, the coffee, and especially the lakes! But on a deeper level, actively striving to reduce our environmental impact is a long term investment. An investment that we’re making not to “jump on the bandwagon” but as an investment in the future, for our employees, our guests and our town. We are incredibly lucky to have a team here that are environmentally conscious right from the front desk staff, to housekeeps, to management. If we can have even a small impact on our industry, by changing how we operate, it will be a win for everyone.

“We’re looking seriously at what we can do as a hotel that goes beyond just changing our lightbulbs and separating our recycling. We have a long way to go because the Summit Lodge is located in an old building and we’re part of an industry that naturally produces a lot of waste…but we are constantly searching, every day, for new products, suppliers and ways of operating that will reduce our carbon footprint and strain on the local and global environment” – Tony Medd, GM, Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel

We’re in This Together

The Dali Lama wisely said “when you speak you only repeat what you already know, when you listen you may learn something new” and in that spirt we’d really like to hear your thoughts on Leo’s speech. Please leave a comment below and (unlike many other blogs) we’ll actually read them.