A regular visitor to Whistler is happy to see changes to a local strata's predatory parking policy, but fears the damage may already be done.
Last August, Vancouverite Lesley Parker was vacationing at Lake Placid Lodge in Whistler with her family.
Midway through their week-long stay, the family misplaced their underground parking pass at Lake Placid. It being a holiday, Parker placed a handwritten note on the dash explaining the situation.
The following morning, the car was gone.
"Either they didn't read the note or didn't care about the note and didn't call us, because nobody had tried to contact us, even though we were a floor away, and they towed the car," Parker said.
The incident left the Parkers with a $180 bill and a bad taste in their mouths.
"It was a really negative experience," Parker said.
"It didn't leave the attitude that people are welcome."
And as it turned out, the Parkers weren't the only ones to have their cars towed.
Earlier this year, the strata council at Lake Placid implemented a stringent towing policy that would ensure any cars not displaying a proper parking pass were towed — with no exception.
After the policy was implemented, a number of visitors to Whistler had their cars towed from the Lake Placid lot.
As general manager of the Whistler Vacation Club, Marlene Coleman dealt with the brunt of a lot of people's anger over this issue.
"We've been at the other end of some furious guests who are just yelling down the phone at us," Coleman said.
"We've had to deal with that not once, not twice, but I would say 20 or 30 times in the last year."
There was also concern that the towing policy was damaging the lodge's reputation, and in turn, Whistler's.
"What it's doing is it's really turning people off about coming to Whistler and spending their dollars there," Coleman said.
"Whistler is not the only gig in town. People out of Vancouver can choose to go to Banff, they can go south of the border, they can choose to go to the Interior... it seems to me that this policy is doing more damage than anything."
Coleman — an owner at Lake Placid Lodge — tried to raise concerns about the policy with the strata council, but didn't get far.
"It (was) just met with the stonewall," she said. "They (were) not prepared to compromise or budge, or to have a first warning policy or to change what it (was), and their reasoning is that there's security issues with that particular building."
"I was on the strata council for two or three years prior to this new strata council, and I never was aware of any breach of security in terms of the parking in Lake Placid Lodge."
It wasn't until a special meeting was called with the owners of the lodge that the policy was overturned. Eighty-seven of 106 owners were represented, with the vast majority voting to overturn the policy.
For Coleman, the decision came as a relief.
"There's been so many negative online reviews around that policy, and people who now have a very negative perspective of what Whistler's all about, and that's really damaging to Whistler, because they won't come back. That really bothers me," she said.
"I just think it's important for people to give consideration, when bringing in these kind of policies, what the long-term ramifications are, because they're not in the spirit of promoting Whistler. It's not what Whistler is about."
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