Dec 1, 2001 | Marmot, Winter 2001

Mt.Washington Nominated for Environmental Award

Mt.Washington has been nominated for a Starfish Award for environmentally responsible tourism.

The B.C. Council of Tourism sponsors the award, says Jay Oddleifson, Director of Finance and Planning for Mt. Washington Resort. In the past two years the resort has solidified its commitment to the environment through careful planning and practice as well as the education of its staff and visiting public, he says.

Resort management has committed $300,000 in the past year to address concerns ranging from recycling depots to environmentally sensitive landscaping, to studies on water waste.

In the spring of 2000, Mt. Washington adopted environmental principles to provide a framework for sustainable landscape design. Some of these principles, which have led to the Starfish Award nomination, include: understanding the historic and regional landscape characteristics, respecting the natural landforms, and enhancing the environment for residents by using landscaping techniques that require little or no water.

“Many objectives and policies are aimed at protecting the physical environment,” he said. Plans were put into action in the summer of 2001; for example, a water and trail feature, which includes catch basins that better deal with melt off and silt problems, was created at the Gold Trail (the entrance to the parking lot).

The key to the environmental principles was the adoption of the Local Area Plan in November. This plan calls for stringent environmental planning and practices for the future, Oddleifson said – plans like a buffer between the resort and Strathcona Provincial Park, policies on ecological greenways, water management and acid rock drainage.

Resort management has tried to involve all its staff members in its environmental initiatives. Last year a staff committee was formed to look at ways the resort could lessen its environmental impact. The committee has been successful in a number of projects, including setting up more recycling depots for bottles, plastic and glass, and implementing a staff coffee card program to encourage staff members to use thermal mugs instead of disposable cups. That last initiative, says Oddleifson, saw a reduction of 1,600 paper cups and a savings of $500 in a one-month trial near the end of last ski season.

Mt.Washington works closely with BC Parks, donating $10,000 annually for park projects and initiatives associated with Strathcona Park. The resort also prides itself on being deeply involved with the Marmot Recovery Foundation and has donated a section of land, valued at $250,000, to assist the foundation in building the Vancouver Island Marmot Captive Breeding Facility.

The first seven marmots were moved in for the winter in October, and biologists are hoping there will be new pups next year.

Mt. Washington’s commitment to the environment doesn’t stop there. In the next year the resort will explore a number of different initiatives in an ongoing effort to preserve a symbiotic relationship with its natural surroundings.

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