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Don’t say box store

Municipality pulls controversial transit ads

Municipally-funded advertisements touting Whistler transit’s commuter route to Squamish as an easy way to get to the area’s big-box stores were quickly pulled from local newspapers this week.

Cited as a way to get to Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and Home Depot on select routes the ads placed in Pique Newsmagazine and Whistler Question were intended to fill up seats on low ridership routes and to encourage more eco-friendly methods of travel.

“If they (shoppers) do go to Squamish we would prefer they take the bus and not contribute to poor air quality,” said municipal spokesperson Diana Waltmann, “Basically the message was to get people out of single-occupant vehicles and onto public transit.”

But after consideration the municipality — that partially funds the commuter system — cancelled any further ads.

“The municipality doesn’t necessarily want people to go to Squamish to shop,” Waltmann said. “We want to encourage people to shop locally.”

The commuter service runs from November through April, costs $146,000 annually and is funded equally by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the District of Squamish. Whistler’s funding for the service, that carries over 22,000 on four scheduled daily round trips over the five months, is derived in the short term from a parking-in-lieu fund, Waltmann said. B.C. Transit has frozen funding to Whistler's transit since 2003.