What it’s about
Supporting a more local food system in the region, enabling access to affordable and healthy food options, enhancing economic benefits and reducing waste and water impacts.
Whistlerites can access locally produced food from a number of sources including: the farmers’ market, hobby farms, community gardens, local restaurants or grocery stores. All residents, employees and visitors have access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food. The food system from farm to fork to disposal allows all suppliers to make a fair living and is sustainable with minimal waste, water use and no persistent chemicals.
Regional agricultural land has been preserved and enhanced for increased production. Residents and visitors encourage and support opportunities for food production on private property, protected farmland and developed lands, and in community gardens. Regional food producers, retailers, restaurants and First Nations food traditions are celebrated and supported in the marketplace as valuable components of the region’s identity, health, vitality and economic prosperity. Whistler’s food offerings are a vital part of the resort’s economy.
Local and regional stakeholders have been working to bring Whistler’s food system closer to home with a shift in emphasis to healthier food choices and regional or local production to improve food security and quality, as well as community sustainability.
With a focus on integrating the agricultural history, production capacity and local knowledge of the neighbouring communities of Mount Currie, Pemberton and Squamish, and Whistler’s internationally recognized food service industry, food policy is moving towards a greater coordinated, collaborative regional effort to create stronger bonds among food producers, retailers and consumers.
Whistler residents are increasingly aware of and interested in local, healthy food choices, as demonstrated by the growth of Community Supported Agriculture food boxes, the popularity of the community greenhouses and the ever-increasing success of the Whistler Farmers’ Market. In general, Whistler residents are satisfied with food services (grocery stores and restaurants), although satisfaction with grocery stores is slightly lower than with restaurants. A number of Whistler restaurants are internationally recognized for their organic offerings, as well as local procurement and food production. There is a tremendous demand by visitors for local food, which currently exceeds supply.
Food is more expensive to purchase in Whistler than in the region, resulting in food purchases at larger stores in Squamish or Vancouver, and there is limited food production on private property due to the potential of human-bear conflicts and our limited growing season. Wages in the food services industry are lower than average, making it difficult for some sector employees living in Whistler to make a living wage.
The protection of suitable farmland throughout the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the community and food security of residents in the Sea to Sky corridor. To that end, the SLRD has detailed policies in the SLRD Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) for the protection of farmland and the support of food production. All areas in the SLRD are on their way to completing an Agriculture Land Use Assessment, Agriculture Area Plan, Food Strategy or other food-related plan.
Currently, food waste is the largest component of the SLRD landfilled waste by weight, accounting for 43 per cent of the total waste sent to landfill. The municipality operates a municipal compost facility and is also serviced by a commercial composting facility in the Sea to Sky area.
Click the ‘Objectives & Policies’ to display additional content.
8.12. Goal Support, preserve and enhance sustainable, secure local and regional food systems.
Improve education and initiatives to increase the sustainability and resiliency of the resort community’s food system.
Support the SLRD in developing a sustainable food plan that encourages awareness about and the expansion of the regional food system.
Work with resort community partners and stakeholders, and regional and provincial agencies, to increase community awareness of the benefits of nutritious and affordable food.
Collaborate with regional and provincial agencies and stakeholders in support of regional initiatives to enhance community food security.
Encourage small-scale, neighbourhood-level food production within the resort community.
Showcase local and regional food and beverage offerings, including First Nations culture, through resort community celebrations and events.
Explore opportunities to learn about the Squamish Nation’s and Lil’wat Nation’s understandings of the seasonal cycles of the land and associated traditional practices of gathering and preparing local foods and remedies.
Support and advocate for the SLRD RGS and other related strategies to protect regional farmland and provincial Agricultural Land Reserve land for food production.
8.13. Goal Community members have dignified access to sufficient, nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food.
Improve access to and opportunities for providing nutritious and affordable food.
Work with the Whistler Food Bank, other resort community partners and stakeholders, and regional and provincial agencies to provide increased access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food.
Support opportunities for farmers’ markets in Whistler and their work with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets to enhance the affordability of food sold at the markets.
Encourage and enable backyard and community gardens on private and public lands where appropriate and feasible.
Support opportunities to showcase culturally diverse food offerings.
Consider adopting the Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings Policy for municipal buildings.
Increase the use of organic farming practices.
Support organic, chemical-free farming and processing practices, and access to the foods produced by these practices.
8.14. Goal Water is used efficiently and that water quality is protected throughout Whistler’s food system.
Promote water conservation in the food system.
Promote and encourage conservation of potable water throughout all food-related activities, including watering of gardens, preparation of food and use of water in restaurants and hotels.
8.15. Goal Support the food system and related activities to enhance the regional economy, and increase regional jobs and wealth from farm to fork.
Encourage procurement from local and regional food systems and businesses.
Support opportunities for buy local food programs in resort businesses and organizations.
8.16. Goal Reduce waste from the food system and divert waste from landfills.
Encourage and provide facilities and services to reduce food waste.
Encourage resort partners, restaurants and businesses to reduce food waste following preferred methods in this order: reduce surplus food generated; divert extra food to first feed people and then animals; divert for industrial and energy use; compost; and finally, landfill.
Work with food distributors and suppliers to reduce food packaging.
Support local and regional composting services and facilities.
Encourage and support initiatives to upcycle food waste.