How we got started

A council's vision for Environmental Sustainability

(or What your garbage has done for you)

The idea of a foundation for the community circulated throughout Whistler for many years. There was much talk but the idea could not seem to come to fruition. By the late 1990s, the municipal council of the day recognized that they needed to take a leadership role in creating a foundation for the community. The council passed a motion to provide $25,000 in seed money towards setting up a foundation, one that would support community groups.

Volunteers from the community set to work creating the Community Foundation of Whistler.

Also around the late 1990s, the Resort Municipality of Whistler had begun to adopt a set of environmental sustainability values, strategies and goals. The council had initiated landfill tipping fees and had set a portion of these fees aside in an environmental legacy fund. This idea for the environmental legacy fund was the brainchild of CAO Jim Godfrey and it was supported by the council at the time, championed by Mayor Hugh O'Reilly and councilor Ken Melamed.

The mayor and council of the day wanted the fund to be protected from being redirected by future governments to other uses. They also wanted the fund to be a permanent resource for the community, forming sustainable funding for community groups.

With these goals in mind, the environmental legacy funds were transferred to the newly formed Community Foundation of Whistler where the funds were permanently protected and serve the community forever as an environmental legacy. This would not have been possible without the support of the Mayor and councilors Ken Melamed, Nick Davies, Ted Milner, Kristi Wells, Stephanie Sloan, and Dave Kirk.

The transfer of funds gave the foundation its first true endowment fund: the Environmental Legacy Fund. Subsequent annual transfers of landfill tipping fees built the fund up. Over time, the invested capital has grown to over $3.2 million dollars as of year end 2014.

Once the Community Foundation of Whistler was established with a knowledgeable board of directors, one that included Kathy Barnett, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, and John Tolmie, and with solid policies and governance in place, the community grew interested in the concept of creating permanent legacies for future generations.

The foundation now manages 26 endowment funds and has over $5.2 million in assets. The Environmental Legacy Grants Program is still the largest grant program, granting out over $128,000 to local environmental programs in 2015.