Kids centre, bowl access among changes for 2003-2004 

Whistler-Blackcomb invests $14.5 million in on-mountain improvements

With the ski season just months away, Whistler-Blackcomb has announced more than $14.5 million in on-mountain improvements. The changes include everything from an increase in snowmaking capacity to more parking to a new children’s play area on Whistler Mountain.

"All of the capital expenditures are focused on improving the guest and the staff experience," said Bob DuFour, director of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb.

"For example, a lot of our on-mountain improvements, like regrading trails and increasing our snow-making capabilities, will allow for a better early season experience, improve our ability to groom, and will allow for extended ski-outs. Each change makes a difference, especially to our early season."

The long list of on-mountain improvements includes:

• More investment in snowmaking, including the expansion of snow-making reservoirs to hold more than 68 million litres of water;

• $225,000 for mountain restoration in the Jersey Cream area of Blackcomb. The restored vegetation will allow for early openings, even with less snow, while reducing erosion and improving wildlife habitat;

• Improvements to the Highway 86 and Grand Finale Trail intersection in the Bagel Bowl area on Whistler Mountain. The intersection has been widened to reduce congestion;

• More parking stalls, including covered parking in Creekside. When the new parking structure is complete, there will be a total of 1,350 parking stalls for public use, plus 100 commercial spaces;

• Doubling the size of the Chipmunk Terrain Park on Whistler Mountain, near the Jolly Green Giant intersection;

• The creation of an Enchanted Forest play are on Whistler Mountain between Pony Trail and Bear Cub trails. This area is a kids-only zone, with tunnels and tree forts;

• Better beginner terrain at Olympic station, which has been regraded to make learning to ski and ride easier;

• A better entrance to Whistler Bowl, providing easier access to Whistler Bowl and Shale Slope. The area will be groomed periodically, representing North America’s steepest grooming.

Whistler-Blackcomb has raised pass prices again this year by three per cent, citing on-mountain improvements, higher insurance rates, and rising labour and fuel costs.

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