Lakeside Park plan down to two options 

Concessions, commercial boat access on drawing board

By Andrew Mitchell

After two surveys, two open house meetings, and a long internal planning process, the municipality has narrowed the proposed expansion and redevelopment of Lakeside Park to two options.

According to Martin Pardoe, the RMOW manager of parks and facilities planning services, the main difference between the plans is the location of the concession and public washrooms. The final plan will likely be an amalgamation of both options, once council gives its feedback.

Pardoe is planning to take the options before council on Dec. 4.

“We’re looking for an approval in principle for both those options, which we’ll further pursue through another public open house in January,” he said.

Both options included commercial boat access, which is a contentious issue for the park’s neighbours in Alta Vista who have had problems with previous operators. In the past commercial operations have included the rental of sailboats, kayaks and canoes, and the staging of tours down the River of Golden Dreams. Those operations were halted when a resident of the area did a little digging and discovered that the Lakeside area did not have the proper zoning for a park or commercial operations.

Pardoe acknowledges that commercial boat access is controversial, but points to municipal plans to enhance tourism in the resort.

“The route we’re following is consistent with the OCP (Official Community Plan), which talks about the parks and recreation addressing the needs of community tourism and… policies that meet community resort demands, as well as recognizing that recreation activities attract more people each year,” he said. “It’s also a part of the Whistler 2020 plan, and park vision documents.”

Pardoe says the planning process does take the concerns of local residents into account, and that the commercial boat access will be implemented in such a way as to minimize impact on the community.

“What we are looking to do is locate it in an area of minimum impact to the park and the neighbourhood, and develop a management plan to further tighten up the amount of access commercial operations will have to the park and the community, as well as how and when they access the park,” he added.

Pardoe acknowledges that there was some confusion about the concession and commercial boat access in the public feedback. The concession would sell things like drinks and snacks, while the commercial boat access would provide access to the water, as well as the means to rent and store boats.

Once the next public hearing is held in January, Pardoe says the goal is to get as much done as possible on the plan to allow redevelopment to get underway in the spring, with the goal of completing most of the work by the summer.

Plans include items such as floating docks, a dog beach, hard courts for tennis and basketball, public parking, barbecues, washrooms, a playground, and more.

According to Pardoe, fewer people attended the second open house in September, and filled out the second survey, despite efforts of local residents to fight commercial boat access.

Linda Seifred, a Lakeside Road resident who has opposed the commercial boat access through a local property owners’ association, says the reason for the lack of feedback is the fact that all of the options presented include some form of commercial boat access.

“Basically, what it comes down to is that it doesn’t matter what the community or public says, they’re (the RMOW) just going to do what they want anyway,” she said. “It doesn’t surprise me that both options include commercial access, because that’s what they want to do.”

According to Seifred, residents don’t have any problem with the majority of new facilities proposed for the park in the Lakeside Park Master Plan process, with the exception of commercial boat access. They would rather see that built at Rainbow Park, which is larger, attracts more tourists, and isn’t connected to a residential neighbourhood.

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