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High-tech turnover time in Whistler

Allen Best

WHISTLER, B.C. It was high-tech turnover time in Whistler recently. Twenty-five volunteers spent a half-day collecting a tractor-trailer’s load of old cell phones, computers, and other electronic gadgetry in Whistler and nearby towns. A company in Vancouver recycles the items, diverting mercury, bromine, and other toxic materials from the landfill and groundwater, explains Pique.Revelstoke biomass boiler now burningREVELSTOKE, B.C. Revelstoke now has a 1.5-megawatt biomass boiler up and burning. The boiler will consume 6,600 tons of wood residue annually while producing hot water that is used to heat schools, city buildings, an aquatic center and other buildings in the city core.The project cost $5.3 million (Cnd) and was some years in the making, notes the Revelstoke Times Review. In addition to providing heat, the biomass boiler reduces the burning of wood waste from the sawmill that produces the air pollution to which many in Revelstoke object. The biomass boiler is more self-contained.Saving energy is one way to improve the economyBANFF, Alberta Banff’s council is being urged to make a major investment in energy savings, one way of improving the economy.A 2000 audit showed the community spending $50 million in energy all of it money that leaves Banff, points out Chip Olver, a councilwoman. Especially with costs of energy rising, improving conserving energy means that residents will save money. It also could reduce the need for a major expense of a new, larger-capacity electrical transformer.A report last year showed that energy consumption in Banff rose 32 percent from 1990 and 2000, far outpacing the growth in population. Commercial and transportation sectors were the biggest users of energy.Exurban homes causing air pollution in WhitefishWHITEFISH, Mont. The old part of Whitefish looks like a somewhat typical town in the Midwest. Houses are relatively small, set back 20 to 30 feet from the street.But as is happening everywhere, the houses on the fringe in this scenic part of Montana it’s near Glacier National Park and the Big Mountain ski area are different. The Whitefish Pilot tells of two homes that recently were before city officials, one with a 200-foot driveway, the other with an 800-foot driveway.The length of the driveways matters because Whitefish, as well as two other nearby towns, has been violating federal air quality standards for more than a decade. One of the primary problems is due not to those old bugaboos of the West, sawmills and factories, but instead the dispersed living patterns of exurbia. People are causing a lot of dust by driving back and forth from their homes. The length of the unpaved driveways alone matters in the total accumulation of air pollution.One residential lot creates 10 vehicle trips per day, according to standards cited by the Whitefish Pilot. If roads are paved, that’s one thing. But gravel roads get muddy, and once the mud dries a SUV charging into the dust can churn up a cloud of particulates, which are known to be a threat to public health.The Flathead County Health Board is reported to be considering expanding the municipal non-attainment districts that were created when the federal government found the three towns Whitefish, Kalispell and Columbia Falls were violating clean air standards. That would mean imposing the more strict city air quality standards on county residents.As well, Flathead County is considering whether to mandate efficient wood-burning stoves that emit far fewer particulates than old-fashioned wood-burning stoves, a change-out begun 10 to 15 years ago in most Colorado resort counties.Vail, Colorado


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