As a resort that is reliant on the natural world for our success, Whitewater is presciently aware of the need to limit our impact on our surroundings and the wider environment.
We're Committed to Putting in the Work
We're not perfect, but we're committed to putting in the work, listening to underrepresented voices, and understanding that this is an ongoing process. We are striving for progress over perfection.
Have an idea of how we can improve? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the 2022/2023 season, Whitewater invested in a Sustainability consultant with over 27 years of designing and implementing sustainability programs in the snow sports industry to help push the organization forward in regards to sustainability. The goal has been to provide the leadership with guidance on building achievable goals, staff engagement, and actionable items that can lead to immediate results. Each year the consultant works to guide our Green Team in tackling new campaigns to improve the sustainability of the operation.
Carbon Emission Measurement
In 2022, Whitewater began the implementation of the Ecobase software to assist in measuring the operation's carbon footprint. In developing a clear understanding of where the resort is in regards to emissions, achievable goals can be created to make reductions.
Transport & Travel
Whitewater encourages staff and guests to reduce their environmental impacts by carpooling and taking public transport where possible. In March 2019, we introduced a priority parking zone close to the day lodge for High Occupancy Vehicles (cars carrying 3 or more people) and electric vehicles. We supply daily shuttle buses to the resort for both staff and guests to use and for the 23/24 season, we were able to secure a grant to expand our shuttle service for our guests. We've invested in ride sharing to offer our guests a booking platform as another effort to encourage our community to make the whole of their mountain experience as environmentally friendly as possible.
Whitewater is an “Idle Free” resort with added signage around the resort encouraging guests to switch off their vehicles while they are in the drop-off zone.
Environmental consultants were also hired to ensure that the expansion of Parking Lot #5 and seven culvert installations were completed in the most responsible manner. Their plan identified the environmental risks associated with this project and detailed how the contractor and resort will perform construction activities in a manner that prevents adverse impacts on the environment.
In the summer of 2023, Whitewater purchased a new fully electric snowmobile from Taiga Motors. This machine is charged via a level 2 charger located at our maintenance shop and is also equipped with regenerative braking which reduces the need for charging, usually providing two to three days of use before needing a charge. The addition of this machine to our fleet has reduced the amount of gas and oil products used throughout the season and produces zero emissions. Whitewater continues to explore sustainable options when adding new machines to our fleet.
Building & Infrastructure
The BC Energy Step Code is a new provincial standard that provides an incremental and consistent approach to energy efficient construction. Each step on the Step Code means a more efficient building, with the final one, step 5, being net-zero (ie. The building creates as much energy as it consumes).
During the 2022/2023 season, Whitewater built two new structures using the most energy-efficient construction available: a staff Operation & Administrative building as well as the new Hummingbird Lodge & Campground. The Hummingbird Lodge has a boutique 2-bedroom suite on the second floor and is the first on-mountain accommodation at Whitewater. The lower floor offers a cafe, retail outlet, and private classroom space for education courses. Both were built using ICF (insulated concrete forms) construction and both utilize a centralized heat pump. Together with energy efficient windows and doors, these buildings features all help Whitewater achieve step 5 and net zero-ready construction.
The Hummingbird Lodge and Campground has the following features:
- Constructed primarily with locally sourced material and trades
- Mini split heat pump
- Propane boiler provides in-floor heat
- Triple pane windows, insulated steel doors
- Deep well provides pristine potable water
- Low-flow water fixtures
- Accessible and family shower rooms
- Indoor dishwashing area for campers
- Secure bear-proof food storage lockers for tent campers
- 2 x Level 2 EV charger
- 15 forested tent sites with dedicated washroom buildings for tent campers
With the Day Lodge refurbishments in 2010 and 2017, and the Glory Lodge built in 2017, we installed a number of new features to reduce the impact of our physical infrastructure. The Day Lodge now has:
- New insulation, electrical circuitry, and drywall
- LED lighting
- Low flow toilets
- Propane boiler
The Glory Lodge also has the following eco-features:
- Eco-friendly septic system. Made of rehabilitated natural organic material (coconut husks), this patented biological filter serves as a physical barrier that retains pollutants. The advanced secondary treatment technology (Ecoflo), as well as the tertiary disinfection technologies (DiUV and FDI), represent the best solutions for the long-term protection of lakes, waterways, and groundwater.
- Natural wood stove heating system
In addition to the above, our Communications tower is powered by solar energy (with a backup generator) and we outsource our laundry to lower our on-site water consumption.
In the 2022/2023 season we moved the management of waste disposal from our guests to our staff to ensure that we are able to reduce what ends up in the landfill. We also partnered with Clutch Farm and Forest Farm to launch a composting program with pre-consumer food waste. These efforts resulted in a 15% decrease in our garbage output even with a 10% increase in visitation, and provided us with the top score on our external recycling audit. We are continuing to revisit our practices to look at ways to reduce the waste produced by the resort operations to amplify these efforts.
The resort has been working to increase the use of non-disposable dishware. When business volumes do not allow for this, we use disposable plates that are made from recycled paper, to minimize the use of virgin materials. We have also shifted from plastic to wooden cutlery. This wooden cutlery is used as kindling at the Glory Lodge.
We purchase locally wherever possible, both to support our local economy and independent businesses, but also to minimize the transportation and carbon footprint of our purchases.
We have reduced our use of paper products in marketing and use materials made from stone-based paper for our resort maps. All employee pay stubs are issued electronically.
Environmental Preservation & Backcountry Travel
One of the biggest impacts the ski industry has on the environment is in the creation of trails and the building of chairlifts. When the Glory Ridge chairlift was built in 2010, we left the environment in as natural a state as possible, choosing to remove very few trees.
Unlike many other ski resorts, Whitewater is known for its incredible backcountry terrain and we work hard to educate all backcountry enthusiasts through one of the many avalanche courses offered. We have a dedicated patrol team to educate guests on how to travel safely and responsibly while enjoying the acreage beyond the ski area boundary.
As a part of our development, we always consult with local indigenous groups and ensure proper wildlife and environmental management practices by hiring biologists and environmental consultants to provide us with recommendations on how to minimize our impact as we develop more services for our guests. As an outcome of our consultations, we were able to create trails and management practices that work to protect the local wildlife and habitat. A part of this includes investing in bear-proof bins as a part of our outdoor waste management program.
The resort is aware of the importance of Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) and the potential presence of this blue-listed species within the CRA. Whitebark Pine provides large nutrient-rich seeds which are prized by grizzly bears, Clark’s nutcrackers, and dozens of other animals. This species is succumbing to the non-native disease, white pine blister rust, and the steady decline has been accelerated with the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic. Whitewater will work with the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation and MTCA to identify and avoid harvesting and/or damage to Whitebark Pine within the CRA wherever possible. We have planted Whitebark Pine by the gravel pit and will continue to educate employees and guests on Whitebark Pine conservation measures.
We continue to invest in technology that provides increased reliability and a superior guest experience and have expanded RFID cards across all of our ticket products for the 2023/2024 season. This reduces our single-use waste and means that Passes from last season are reloadable online and all single-day and multi-day Lift Tickets can be reused. We’re encouraging guests to keep their Passes and Tickets from day to day and season to season and we appreciate their help along our sustainability journey.
We invest in our local community through the donation of ski passes, ski lessons, and monetary donations, as well as hosting charitable events throughout the season. Most notable is our Community Day where we offer $25+ GST lift tickets to the local community with proceeds going to a local organization. In the 2023/2024 winter season, we were able to raise over $11,300 for local non-profit organizations. In the previous 2022/2023 winter season, we were able to raise $8000 for both the Avalanche Awareness Beyond the Boundaries Society (A.A.B.B.S.) to offer free avalanche education for youth, and the new Special Olympics BC chapter that the resort began supporting this season.
In January 2020, Whitewater achieved a Silver Award in the Sustainable Tourism Canada certification from Greenstep. Following this recognition, Whitewater was provided a guideline to continue to improve and build on sustainability policies and practices. This certification expired in 2022 but Whitewater continues to work on the recommended improvements from this certification process.
Working at Whitewater
At Whitewater, we believe our employees set us apart from other ski resorts, we want our staff to show up every day and be proud of the team they are a part of. Here are some things we are doing to ensure our staff have the best work environment possible:
- We have participated in the Fit for Snow program since the 2010/2011 season – an educational program to increase awareness around exercise and nutrition to help alleviate injury for all Whitewater Staff.
- We have a safety committee dedicated to promoting and improving the safety and well-being of our staff members & guests
- We provide daily health snacks for all staff members in the form of free fruit in addition to a free coffee/tea/juice box.
- We provide a free daily Staff Shuttle to get employees to and from work, in addition to incentives for carpooling.
- We improved our onboarding paperwork to be inclusive of non-binary gender identification.
- In the 2021/2022 season, we implemented a Staff Health and Wellness Program which provides free/discounted access to group fitness classes as well as other initiatives.
- Want to get more involved? We have a Sustainability Green Team, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee that any staff can join.