Whistler enjoys clean, healthy mountain air most of the time. However, there are occasions where concentrations of air pollutants reach levels that can adversely affect human health.
Trends indicate that air quality could deteriorate if emissions are not proactively managed. Whistler forms part of the Sea to Sky/Howe Sound airshed, which means that this region shares a common flow of air and similar pollutants. Emissions sources in and around Whistler typically includes transportation sources (I.e. vehicles), space heating (fireplaces, wood stoves, propane and natural gas), off-road vehicles and other machinery.
How Can We Keep The Air Clean?
The Whistler community has developed a vision for air quality through Whistler2020. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is a member of the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society, which includes representatives from provincial, regional and local governments, transit companies, utility companies and local industry. The Sea to Sky Clean Air Society manages the Sea to Sky Air Quality Management Plan, which guides stakeholders in implementing strategic regional initiatives towards maintaining or improving air quality in our aished.
Here are some things we are doing to protect air quality in and around Whistler:
Inventory and Monitoring
- The British Columbia Ministry of Environment operates an air quality monitoring station in Whistler at Meadow Park Sports Centre. Local air quality data is available to the public in real time.
- For several years, the Resort Municipality of Whistler independently monitored Cheakamus Crossing Air Quality.
- Air Quality Summary Reports: 2011-2014 Summary, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Working With Partners
- The RMOW collaborates with regional stakeholders as a key partner with the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society towards implementation of the Sea to Sky Air Quality Management Plan.
- The RMOW works with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment on public communication around air quality advisories.
Policy and Planning
- Did you know that Whistler’s Traffic and Parking Bylaw prohibits vehicle idling for longer than one minute? Whistler is among a growing number of communities encouraging drivers to turn off their engines.
- Open air burning is not permitted in Whistler, with the exception of residential campfires (with a valid permit when the wildfire hazard risk is low) or managing wildfire hazard. For more information, read the Fire Protection and Fireworks Bylaw.
- Council recently adopted Whistler’s Community Energy and Climate Action Plan. While the plan does not specifically target air quality, the actions recommended to reduce energy and GHG emissions will contribute to positive long-term air quality results.
On The Ground
- The RMOW actively supports the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society in various activities such as the Clean Air Commute, Bike to Work Week, Clean Air Day celebrations, woodstove exchange program, Burn Smart communications and more.
How Can You Help?
- Drive less: choose transit or active transportation (I.e. bike, ski, walk, skate) to get around in Whistler.
- Burn smart: ensure your fireplace or woodstove is efficient and working properly and burn only clean, dry wood.
- Avoid vehicle idling: turn your vehicle off when not in motion.
- Sea to Sky Clean Air Society
- B.C. Air Quality
- B.C. Air Quality: “What Individuals Can Do”
- State of the Air annual reports by The Lung Association of BC
- The Lung Association of BC: “How wood smoke hurts human health”