Whistler 2020 wins international planning award

Posted December 2005
In November 2005, the Resort Municipality of Whistler won first place in an international competition for long-term planning for its comprehensive sustainability plan, Whistler 2020. The plan is a leading example of the application of The Natural Step Framework in a community-planning context. It helped Whistler win top honors out of all 53 competing cities in the Planning for the Future category of the International Awards for Liveable Communities at the November 7th ceremony in La Coruna, Spain. Whistler was also declared one of the most liveable communities in the world, winning a silver medal and placing third in its population category for this award.
“What a great way to finish my time in office,” said outgoing Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, who has been championing Whistler’s sustainability plan across the world over the past several years. “This recognition from Liveable Communities is a testament to all the hard work by the hundreds in our community who helped develop Whistler 2020. Whistler has broken new ground once again with the development of this plan, and we will be leaders again through its implementation, as we move toward our vision of a sustainable future.”

Liveable Communities judges identified Whistler’s sustainability plan, Whistler 2020: Moving Toward a Sustainable Future, and the process to develop it, as an international, best-practice planning model that can be used by any sized community in the world. “We are thrilled that our partners in Whistler have been recognized internationally for their leadership,” said The Natural Step Canada’s Executive Director, Kelly Baxter. “Whistler 2020 is an inspiring and powerful example of how the Natural Step Framework can be used to develop a holistic, and truly integrated approach to sustainability planning in a community. It’s no wonder that so many other communities are now interested in learning from and following Whistler’s example.”

The international awards, endorsed by the United Nations Environmental Program, are designed to encourage best practices, innovation, and leadership in providing a vibrant, environmentally sustainable community that improves the quality of life for its citizens and the global community. Whistler was among ten finalists in one of five population categories. Communities are not compared against each other, but rather how they measure against the criteria within the cultural, political, economic, geographic, and climatic environment in which they are situated. Whistler was one of only two communities in the entire competition to receive awards in multiple categories; 53 finalists from 20 countries presented to the judges over the four-day event.

Planning for the Future is one of five categories on which all finalists are judged. The others are Enhancing the Landscape, Environmentally Sensitive Practices, Heritage, and Community Involvement. 

In announcing the Planning for the Future award, the judges said, “Many communities have developed a variety of strategies and policies relating to Planning for the Future. Planning should not be totally centralized, but be a balance between various components of the community and embrace all aspects of a liveable community. The judges agreed that one community displayed it, has achieved this balance, and has embraced all the aspects of interest to the judges. This community has been successful in the excellent organization of a comprehensive sustainable plan and partnership agreement strategies. This community is Whistler, Canada.”
For more information please contact:
Mike Vance, General Manager of Community Initiatives, Resort Municipality of Whistler, at 604-932-5535, or mvance@whistler.ca, www.whistler.ca

Chad Park, Sustainability Advisor, The Natural Step Canada, at 613-748-3001, or cpark@naturalstep.ca, www.naturalstep.ca