If you live in Alpine and
want to drive to Marketplace during the Olympics, you are probably not going to
be able to do that.
That was the way Councillor
Nancy Wilhelm-Morden put it Saturday during the Olympic town hall meeting.
You can take your car, she
said, but parking will be the issue.
Indeed, parking and
restricted transportation shaped up to be one of the top issues of community
concern for the Olympics, accounting for about half of the questions at the
Questions ranged from “Will I
be able to buy wine from the local liquor store?” to “Will commuting between
Vancouver and Whistler be possible during Games time?”
“I think there is a real
thirst for information about transit and about transportation in the valley
because everybody wants to be certain that they are going to be able to go to
work, and that they are going to be able to take their kids to school,” said
Wilhelm-Morden on Tuesday.
“And certainly everybody will
be able to get to work and everybody will be able to get their kids to school,”
Wilhelm-Morden went on to say
that people are going to have to realize that it is going to be very busy in
Whistler during the Games.
“As I said at the meeting, if
people think that there is going to be unrestricted access, that is not going
to be the case. It will be tough to park and people are going to be encouraged
to leave their cars at home and get on transit,” she said.
Public parking will be almost
nonexistent in the Village during 2010 while the Olympics are in place.
skier lots have all been contracted out to VANOC for use during the games,
including Lots 6,7, and 8 on Blackcomb and Franz’s Trial at Creekside.
Doug Forseth, senior vice
president of operations for Whistler Blackcomb, said that Whistler-Blackcomb is
not worried that transportation will affect their skier and snowboarder numbers
during the games.
“I think it will affect
locals…coming from Vancouver and our regional market, since they don’t have a
place to park,” said Forseth.
“One thing that VANOC is
preparing to do is provide bus transportation for up to 5,000 people a day from
Vancouver,” he said.
Diana Waltmann, spokesperson
for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), added that the municipal
parking lot under the TELUS Conference Centre will likley not be public during
“I don’t know that they will
be available because the Conference Centre is being used,” said Waltmann,
“The ones under the rest of
the Village are not controlled by the municipality, so it would depend on the
operators, what they are planning to do,” she added.
Owners of one of the largest
parking lots in town – the parking space at Marketplace – have not yet decided
what to do with the area during Games time.
“We actually haven’t
confirmed what the policy will be during the Olympics period,” said Tom
Johnston from Trilogy Properties, owner Whistler Marketplace Shopping Centre.
“That really is a discussion
we would hold with our tenants, because the tenants and their customers are as
much stakeholders in the parking lot as we are as landlords of the centre.”
To alleviate the tight
parking situation, the municipality is bringing in 120 additional buses during
the Winter Olympics to supplement Whistler’s WAVE transit system.
According to Mayor Ken
Melamed, the buses will service every “nook and cranny” in Whistler, including
places that currently do not have regular bus service.
A transportation plan is also
being worked on by the Transit Management Committee, chaired by Wilhelm-Morden,
and should be made public in the spring.
The plan will cover details
such as whether it is necessary to have the highway closed or restricted at
certain periods of time during the Games and who will be able to access Highway
99 to travel between Vancouver and Whistler.
The councillors stressed at
Saturday’s Olympic town hall meeting that using transit during the Games is a
suggestion, not an absolute. However, if everyone uses a car it is not going to
“VANOC, the RMOW and others
are creating lots of opportunities for alternatives. We are encouraging
everybody over towards buses,” said Councillor Tim Wake.
Melamed added: “Rather than
thinking of public transit as the worst thing possible, think of it as part of
the Games’ experience.”
The councillors made reference to successful public transport systems used during the Winter Olympic Games in other host cities, including Torino and Calgary.