Maxed Out 

Pay parking's inconvenient truth

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Summertime is barbeque time and nothin' says lovin' like the smell of sacred cow slowly becoming succulent over smoky, low heat. So let's gore some oxen and go face-to-face with some inconvenient truths about everyone's cause célèbre , pay parking.

Inconvenient Truth #1 : Where else did you think it came from?

As part of the rationale for pay parking, we are told, in somewhat accusatory tones, that 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Whistler can be directly tracked to the tailpipes of passenger vehicles. Half! Hang your heads in shame, you SUV-driving slackers.

Well, duh. Where else would they come from? It's not like we have a lot of heavy industry in the valley.

Whistler is a destination resort. Perhaps we use that phrase so often we don't stop to think about what it means. People come here from somewhere else; Whistler is their destination. Since the global economy tanked and the U.S. dollar became a speculative currency, more and more of the people who choose Whistler as their recreation destination are much-appreciated regional guests. By and large, they drive to Whistler and we're glad they do. In fact, if they didn't, a whole lot of us would be driving away from Whistler because our jobs would be gone, gone, gone.

Absent from the reducing GHG justification is the inconvenient truth that Whistler's overall GHG emissions have been ratcheting down over the past couple of years. So how big a straw man is this? Doesn't matter. GHG bad... at any level.

Which raises an interesting question. Most all of the other 50 per cent of GHG emissions come from the commercial and residential sector. How efficient is it? What steps can we take to reduce it? What might constitute the low-hanging fruit?

Would we dare encourage behavioural change in the retail sector by charging shops that keep their doors open all winter? Should Whistler Blackcomb inconvenience skiers by, for example, shutting down lifts whose electric motors malfunction instead of running them on diesel backup, as happened for an extended period this spring on Excelerator?

The inconvenient truth is this: Whistler's very existence is frivolously wasteful. To target the heart of our economic viability - people who drive to the resort and employees who make the resort run - for questionable "behavioural" change is madness. To use it as an excuse for pay parking is disingenuous... at best. If you're that worked up about GHG emissions, move to the city, live in a highrise, walk to work and agitate for the complete removal of unsustainable places like Whistler.

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