Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Letter: Is it time to develop Whistler Blackcomb’s South Base?

'Our connection with Vail Resorts needs improvement and this may be an opportunity.'
Cheakamus Lake Whistler Blackcomb
Cheakamus Lake, as pictured from the south side of Whistler mountain. Some, including this letter writer, argue that developing the south side of the resort could help alleviate some of Whistler Blackcomb's congestion issues.

This letter was sent to Whistler’s mayor and council and shared with Pique.

Like many of the residents of Whistler I am aware that our town has lost some of its influence in the management of Whistler Blackcomb. All of you are aware of how this is playing out, and I’m sure that there has been some discussion at least of working with other Vail Resorts communities that are feeling some similar repercussions related to centralized Vail management.

We have been informed that Vail Resorts is planning an upgrade to Whistler to the extent of some $30 million. While a bigger gondola and six-pack chair will increase upload from Creekside, many of us do not believe this will solve the ongoing problems associated with crowds on-run, or even in lift lines. Certainly without other related planning this will only cause more parking and traffic issues, something that is part of Whistler-Vail Resorts joint responsibilities.

I encourage you to offer a partnership with Vail Resorts to use the promised $30 million— along with monies from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and the province—to carry on with the development at Cheakamus (once the proper approvals are in place) to include parking above Cheakamus Crossing and a lift to the ridge at Frontier Pass, as an alternative to the current proposal. This idea has been bypassed as too expensive because of road building costs, but if the RMOW and the province were to partner with Vail, perhaps it could become part of the solution.

[Editor’s note: though the “South Base” has been listed as one of several possible areas for development in Whistler Blackcomb’s Master Development Agreement for years, there are still no active plans to expand there at this time, according to Whistler Blackcomb.]

There is an obvious advantage in this for the RMOW, because parking south of Creekside would alleviate some of our traffic problems, and re-focus the owner’s (Vail’s) responsibilities for providing a certain amount of free parking. As well, this would be a positive improvement for day-skiers from Vancouver.

Vail Resorts, too, would get more value for its added investment: a real increase in lift capacity, justifying its contractual responsibility toward parking, service to its Vancouver pass holders as well as some new runs and more use of the under- utilized Peak to Creek run.

Good partnerships are win-win, and often the real benefits come from the improved relationships that develop along the way. Our connection with Vail Resorts needs improvement and this may be an opportunity. I encourage you to explore the possibilities.

Al Whitney // Whistler