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Summer day-parking rates go up with new strategy

Upset locals used to free parking speaking out
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The much-anticipated strategy for the day skier lots has been unveiled, launching the next chapter in Whistler's struggle with parking issues.

As of June 1, free parking will be available in day skier Lots 4 and 5 from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. only. At all other times fees will be charged similar to Lots 1 to 3, and payment options will range from hourly, daily, evening, overnight, monthly and - for locals only - three- and six-month passes. The price is also increasing to $13.50 a day during the summer and $9 during the winter months.

Russell Long of Katmandu said he was pretty choked when he heard of the new fee structure.

"It is another form of taxation for the local people," he said. "You have to pay to work in this town now."

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) released the new parking strategy through a four-page Whistler Way advertising insert in the local newspapers.

Jan Jansen, the RMOW general manager of resort experience, said the strategy was aimed at achieving three main goals: to change behavior, improve the visitor experience and act in a fiscally responsible manner.

The RMOW has spent more than $11 million to upgrade the lots and to build the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier to protect the lots - a responsibility that the RMOW assumed in exchange for ownership of the lots from the provincial government.

"That is money spent and money that needs to get back into the reserves of the municipality," said Jansen.

Lot 5 will be paved some time after the GranFondo in September when traffic in the day lots is at its lowest.

Since the implementation of pay parking the average revenue has been $78,000 a month and the lots are projected to bring in $1.375 million in 2011. Jansen said $2 million a year is needed to cover all the financial commitments attached to the lots.

"The numbers of vehicles we're seeing in the day lots really hasn't changed since the introduction of pay parking," said Jansen.

The parking pattern has shifted since pay parking was first implemented in July 2010, he said, with employees filling up many of the free spots in Lots 4 and 5 early in the day. Visitors who generally arrive later, making use of the spots in the Lots 1, 2 and 3.

The desired change in behaviour is to increase the use of transit, bikes, trails and shuttles to get around Whistler. It's estimated that 49 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Whistler come from passenger vehicles.

Doug Forseth, the Whistler Blackcomb senior VP of operations, said that since his arrival in B.C. in 1995 he has noticed an increase in the amount of smog visible in the Fraser Valley.

"We sell the environment here," said Forseth. "Efforts to continue to keep it as it is are important."

Forseth called the parking plan a living plan.

Bill Barratt, the RMOW chief administrative officer, said this new model needs a full year of monitoring and evaluation.

Winter overnight parking lot closures will be maintained so crews can clear snow between 3 and 6 a.m.

The year-round hourly rate after June 1 in the day skier lots will be $2.25.

The current fees for parking in Lots 1 to 3 are $8 a day in the winter and $12 a day in the summer and $5 in the evenings. The hourly rate is $2.

Jansen said when the HST came into effect the new tax was absorbed in the cost. The new pricing now puts the HST on top of the parking fees for hourly and daily parking, but not for long-term parking options like monthly passes.

Business owners, village employees and village volunteers will have access to a $90 three-month pass or a six-month pass for $180. The passes will only be available to those who work or volunteer in the village. Passes will go on sale as of May 16 at the municipal hall and a number of conditions need to be met to make a purchase.

One-month passes will be available to anyone and they will sell for $65. The one-month passes will be purchased from the meters in the lots or the PayByPhone system.

Details of the new parking strategy are available at www.whistlerway.ca.

 

New day skier lot fees at a glance:

Parking Passes

Type

Lots

Price

Purchase

1-month*

Lots 1-5

$65 + tax

Parking machines or by phone

3-months (for qualifying purchasers only)**

Lots 3 east, 4, 5

$90 + tax

Municipal Hall after May 16

6-months (for qualifying purchasers only) **

Lots 3 east, 4, 5

$180 + tax

Municipal Hall after May 16

*Available to anyone

**Available to village business owners, employees and volunteers

 

Day use rates

Time

Lots

Summer

Winter

6 to 3 a.m.

Lots 1-5

$13.50

$9

6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lots 1-3

$6.75

$5.50

6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lots 4, 5

No charge

No charge

Hourly parking

Lots 1-5

$2.25

$2.25

24 hour rate

Lots 1-5

$26.75

Not available

 

 

 

 




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