Work on the day skier parking lots and the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier should begin next month, after council awarded the tenders for both projects Monday evening.
Bids for both projects came in below budget: The parking lot project went to Whistler Excavation for their $2.8 million proposal, and construction of the debris barrier was awarded to Creekside Resources for their $2.9 million submission.
Most councillors spoke highly of the projects, which were tied together in January when the municipality acquired title to the parking lots from the B.C. government in return for building the debris barrier before the 2010 Games.
“This is a good news story for Whistler,” said Councillor Bob Lorriman.
“We get ownership of the parking lots, we get a debris barrier, and the icing on the cake is this is not costing taxpayers. It is revenue neutral.”
Upgrading the parking lots and implementing pay parking is a project that has been on the table since at least the mid-1990s.
James Hallisey, manager of environmental projects, said the municipality has been planning the parking lot project since last fall.
“The main goal of our upgrades are really to improve the visitor experience,” said Hallisey. “Often the parking lots are fine, but there are times when they can be bad and full of mud and icy puddles, which is not the best way to welcome people to a world class resort.”
As part of the agreement, Lots 1, 2, and 3 will be paved with asphalt, a storm water collection system will be installed, 39 streetlights will be erected, and seven covered stairways will be built by July 2009.
VANOC will use the paved lots during the 2010 Winter Olympics, and pay parking will come into effect the following summer.
Proposed parking rates for the 876 spots will be $8 a day in the winter and $12 a day in the summer. Hourly rates will be between $1.50 and $2 an hour.
Hallisey said the municipality expects $2 million a year in revenue from the pay parking. The money will go towards the capital costs of paving the lots and building the debris barrier, as well as the operating costs of the parking lots and a resident transit affordability program.
Lots 4 and 5, which hold 1,200 parking spots, will not be upgraded and remain free.
While Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden supported the application, she said that parking pricing needs to be looked at in more detail, including discounts for employees and carpoolers.
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