Highway traffic on Whistler's UBCM agenda 

Province to support studies of Highway 99

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Traffic flow through the Sea to Sky corridor and beyond was on Whistler's agenda at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) last week.

After a meeting with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone at the annual convention, Whistler has secured provincial support for a traffic study that will examine the highway from Pemberton to Horseshoe Bay.

The partners are hoping to investigate things such as:

• How does the traffic flow along Highway 99?

• Where are the pinch points?

• How will more development in the corridor impact travel time?

"Minister Stone agreed at the meeting to contribute to funding the traffic study that we're going to be leading," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

Whistler has put aside $50,000 in its budget for traffic studies.

Provincial staff will also be part of Whistler's soon-to-be-resurrected Transportation Advisory Group.

The mayor was also part of the meeting with Premier Christy Clark and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD), focusing on highway concerns beyond just Highway 99, specifically the highways in and around Lillooet.

"And how that's becoming an increasingly important place for tourism, but that the roads needs some significant attention," she added.

That meeting also included discussions about highway sweeping for road riders, particularly along the stretch of highway from Whistler to Pemberton.

The Whistler contingent, which included all seven members of council and some municipal staff, also had a meeting with Minister of Environment Mary Polak. The focus of that 15-minute meeting was the proposed four-season Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) resort and the challenges it poses for Whistler. GAS is in its Environmental Assessment Office process with a goal of getting an environmental certificate this fall to move it along the approvals process.

"She was very well-informed about the file," said the mayor.

Whistler also met with Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, on its stalled Official Community Plan, which was quashed by First Nations in the Supreme Court of B.C.

There was also a meeting with Minister Shirley Bond, of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.

"We wanted to thank her for the renewal of the RMI funding," said the mayor, adding that Whistler believes the minister went to bat for resorts to keep that multi-million-dollar funding source alive.

Whistler has yet to do its final tally of the cost of the convention but, to date, it has cost more than $18,000. Not all receipts have been received.

The mayor believes it was money well spent. Among other things, Wilhelm-Morden was keen to see councillors get the full experience of the convention.

She added: "I took a different councillor with me to each of the minister meetings so that they could see for themselves what the dynamic was and how the meetings went, and I think the group as a whole found that the convention was very worthwhile."

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