On March 3, 2015, RMOW Council endorsed a Declaration of the Right to a Healthy Environment. The Declaration reaffirms and reinforces the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s commitment to protecting the natural environment and the health and well-being of its citizens.
Whistler’s Declaration of the Right to a Healthy Environment was prompted by the Blue Dot project, an initiative of the David Suzuki Foundation targeting the recognition of people’s right to a healthy environment—clean water, fresh air, healthy food and a chance to participate in decisions that affect these things—by all levels of government across Canada.
As a result of this project, over 176 municipalities across Canada adopted declarations recognizing their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. Subsequently, Bill C-28, An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, was tabled by the Federal government in spring 2021. In early 2022, the government introduced Bill S-5 (amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act), which, if passed, will recognize the right to a healthy environment for the first time in federal law.
The Right to a Healthy Environment
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler understands that people are part of the environment and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler recognizes the mutual importance and interconnectedness of a healthy environment, a strong economy and a healthy society as we move toward sustainability;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler recognizes that environmental protection is a fundamental value held by its citizens;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler recognizes that our world and all of its inhabitants are faced with the growing and increasingly urgent impacts of climate change, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler recognizes the importance of protecting citizens’ health from environmental hazards such as air pollution, contaminated food and water, and toxic chemicals;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler has a structured sphere of influence and a defined jurisdiction;
- Whereas in proclaiming this declaration, Council is articulating public policy principles but not creating or guaranteeing any legal rights or obligations;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler supports the recognition of the right to a healthy environment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- Whereas the Resort Municipality of Whistler, through the Official Community Plan, the Corporate Plan and Whistler2020, reflects the values of its citizens and demonstrates a commitment to protecting the environment and moving toward a more sustainable future;
The Resort Municipality of Whistler declares that:
- Council believes that all people have the right to live in a healthy environment, including the right to:
- breathe clean air;
- drink and access clean water;
- eat safe and healthy food;
- access nature;
- know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment; and
- participate in decision-making that will affect the environment.
- Within its jurisdiction, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has certain authority to respect, protect, fulfill and promote these rights and commits to encouraging the respect, protection, fulfillment and promotion of these rights.
- Consistent with commitments articulated in Whistler2020, the Resort Municipality of Whistler will apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, the Resort Municipality of Whistler will take measures within its jurisdiction and authority to prevent such degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens; and lack of full scientific certainty will not be viewed as sufficient reason for the Resort Municipality of Whistler to postpone such measures.
- The Resort Municipality of Whistler will endeavour to apply the principles of full cost accounting. When evaluating reasonably foreseeable costs of proposed actions and alternatives, the Resort Municipality of Whistler will consider costs to human health and the environment.
- The Resort Municipality of Whistler will continue to regularly monitor, report on, and integrate environmental objectives in planning, decision-making and operational activities. The Resort Municipality of Whistler will consult with citizens as part of the process of evaluating progress towards fulfilling this declaration and toward its broader Whistler2020 goals and objectives.