Municipality addresses parking issues on Mountainview Drive 

New trails on Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain are officially open

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE RESORT MUNICIPALITY OF WHISTLER - ALPINE ASCENT Changes to Whistler's Alpine Trail Network this year include two new trails on Mount Sproatt.
  • File photo courtesy of the Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • ALPINE ASCENT Changes to Whistler's Alpine Trail Network this year include two new trails on Mount Sproatt.

Residents of Whistler's Alpine neighbourhood may have noticed a few changes this summer.

In response to concerns that Mountainview Drive was being turned into a parking lot for hikers and mountain bikers looking to access the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) alpine trail network, the municipality has made a number of changes.

In addition to getting rid of a much-hated portable toilet that it placed at the end of the Mountainview Drive cul-de-sac last year, the municipality has installed new parking signage, as well as signage that explicitly tells visitors to "Respect the Neighbourhood" and offers suggestions as to how to do this, such as not littering.

The RMOW also moved the trailhead for the Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain trails from the end of the cul-de-sac to the parking lot behind Meadow Park Sports Centre. The RMOW has worked with Tourism Whistler to make sure visitors are directed to that parking lot.

"We want to have an amicable experience for everybody, so [that means] having appropriate parking, and the signage that goes along with that," said Acting Mayor Jen Ford, adding that the RMOW would be monitoring the neighbourhood for illegal parking.

"Bylaw will be doing periodic parking control to address those parked vehicles, and they are focusing on education as well as enforcement," she said.

According to area residents, the changes have gone over well.

"We are very happy to have our neighbourhood back," said Janet Hart. "While it is still early, to date the no-parking signs, increased patrols, no porta-potty and changing the location of the trailhead to Meadow Park has made a significant difference in reclaiming our neighbourhood."

Mountainview Drive resident Marianna Orr also commended the RMOW's efforts, saying that it reacted well after a public information session held with area residents in April 2019.

That said, Orr feels the RMOW did not properly consult with residents before building the new trails on Sproatt and Rainbow mountains, and that the cul-de-sac isn't a suitable entrance to the alpine-trail network.

"We now have a significant rise in traffic going up and down our street, and non-resident vehicles parking, the full length of the [legal side of the] street," she said.

NEW TRAILS OPEN

There are also changes to the alpine trail system this year, including two new trails on Mount Sproatt: Rush Hour and Last Call.

Also new for 2019 is an expanded Mount Sproatt/Rainbow Mountain Alpine Ranger Program, which will see rangers "now on-site for more hours and more days," according to a release.

Rangers' responsibilities include monitoring and maintaining trails, public education, collecting data on wildlife and recreation users, and administering first aid when necessary, as well as communicating with RMOW staff and partners, like the Conservation Officer Service, Search and Rescue and provincial biologists.

Dogs will be prohibited from all Sproatt and Rainbow alpine trails, as will e-bikes. In accordance with Whistler's recently released draft e-bike policy, the electronic bikes are not allowed access to the Sproatt alpine trail network above Flank Trail. As in previous years, bikes will not be permitted on Rainbow Lake or Skywalk hiking trails.

To that end, the municipality is also urging users to respect the trail network's "sensitive alpine vegetation" and to "stick to the marked trails to avoid damaging the environment."

Because the Rainbow Lake trails are located within the municipal water supply area, camping, biking, swimming and dogs are not permitted in this area in an effort to protect Whistler's water supply. "In all areas, pack out all garbage, use outhouses, take only photos and leave no trace," added the release.

Trail users should also keep in mind that grizzly and black bears can be found in the Whistler area—including near the alpine trail network.

"All trail users should be bear aware by carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it in the event of an encounter, never hiking or biking alone, being alert to bear signs (scat, prints, tree markings), being able to differentiate between grizzly and black bears, and respecting trail closures," stated the release.

The RMOW is currently developing a plan to help mitigate potential conflict with grizzlies on its alpine trail network. The province decided to close the trail network last September after two separate groups of hikers had a close call with a grizzly near Rainbow Lake.

Though there is signage and cell phone coverage along most of the trails, all located on the west side of the valley, hikers and bikers can find updated maps of all the RMOW's official hiking and mountain biking trails at trailheads and online at trailforks.com.

Funding for the program to restore and develop the Alpine Trail Network has been provided through the Province of British Columbia's Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI).

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