Four levels proposed for Creekside parking 

Council debates Intrawest’s proposed parking stall trade off

Council has temporarily held off making a decision that would allow Intrawest to add a fourth level to their new underground parking lot in Creekside.

Intrawest would like to add the fourth level to the Creekside parkade in order to make up for a parking shortfall at a their new hotel project in the village.

The trade-off would see more parking at Creekside and at the same time Intrawest would avoid hefty payments in lieu of hotel parking spots.

"I’m not very comfortable with this," said Councillor Kristi Wells at Monday’s meeting.

"You’re melding two projects right now because it’s the same owner."

Intrawest’s 80,000 square foot hotel at Whistler Village Centre is slated for development above the parking lot beside the Holiday Inn, on the corner of Blackcomb Way and Village Gate Boulevard. The development has yet to come before council.

As per municipal bylaws however, Intrawest must provide 131 stalls in the village for that hotel. If they cannot provide the stalls within 100 metres of the hotel, then they must pay $20,000 per stall in lieu of parking.

Instead, Intrawest approached municipal staff with a unique parking trade-off proposal.

They would transfer 103 stalls to Creekside and create a fourth level in their parkade and pay cash for the remaining 28 stalls.

"Intrawest saw certain synergies there," said RMOW Senior Planner Kim Needham, who presented the proposal to council.

The 28 remaining stalls could generate over half a million dollars for the municipality and the money would be committed to transportation related improvements in Whistler Village.

But Wells pointed out that the municipality is in the position to choose between more parking in Creekside or a larger cash payment that could be pumped back into transportation initiatives.

She further explained that transit is one of the major areas where the municipality could use additional funds especially in light of all the recent provincial cutbacks.

The Creekside to village bus service is one of the routes taxpayers are subsidizing to move skiers from one mountain to the other.

"I think there’s some opportunities for the cash to be used operationally," she said.

Likewise Councillor Nick Davies said he was perfectly comfortable with adding a fourth level to the parkade but he was not comfortable relieving Intrawest of their obligations at the Whistler Village Centre.

The four-floor parkade, which is part of the Franz’s Trail development, would have enough room for more than 1,500 stalls. More than 1,200 stalls will be used for day skier parking.

In addition there would be six bus stalls and four taxi stalls.

It’s expected the parkade would also take more rubber tire traffic off the road and stop traffic clogs in the village.

It would connect to the existing parkade under the Franz’s Trail buildings. Three levels will be hidden underground and the top level would be above ground with a number of planters and pedestrian paths. Extensive tree planting will block the view of the parkade from Highway 99.

In addition, there will be a four-foot parapet wall, which will block vehicle lights from shining into highway traffic.

Needham went on to explain that adding more parking to Creekside is congruent with Whistler’s Comprehensive Transportation Strategy.

"It is a good thing to add more parking to Creekside, according to our transportation consultants," she said.

Those consultants called for three major nodes of parking in the future – the village, Creekside, and south of Creekside.

The parking at the Whistler Village Centre currently has 700 stalls. There are 300 stalls, which are dedicated for public use. The parking in that site is currently underutilized, according to staff.

"We believe we have enough parking in the village to address the core needs in the village," said Bob MacPherson, interim general manager of planning and development for the resort.

Council debated the proposed deal and in the end decided to refer the issue back to staff and present the trade-off along with the hotel proposal. That development proposal is to come before council at the next meeting, on Monday, March 17.

While Intrawest is on a tight construction schedule for the parkade, Acting Mayor Ken Melamed said a two week delay will not adversely affect the project, noting that the diggers most likely won’t be able to go down four stories in that time period.

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