Pay parking coming to conference centre 

Free parking in Whistler Village is slowly dwindling.

This week Mayor Ken Melamed announced the municipality will start charging for parking at the Telus Conference Centre underground lot.

The extra revenue will help the municipality balance their finances, said the mayor.

"The conference centre parking is not going to be easy for people to accept, but we are moving towards pay parking there to cover costs," said Melamed.

"This was determined to be realistic and not that difficult."

Exact parking rates have not been yet set, but the pay parking should kick in sometime this year.

To raise further revenues, councillors are also talking about raising the parking rate on Main Street from $1 an hour to $2 an hour.

Together, those two changes will bring in approximately $300,000 extra to municipal hall.

"That is a couple per cent tax increase that we can offset and that was part of the deliberation," he said.

The announcement comes at a time when taxpayers are faced with a 19 per cent tax increase over the next three years.

Also, in the summer of 2010 the municipality will start charging people for parking in Day Skier Lots 1, 2, and 3.

Those rates are currently set at $8 per day in the winter and $12 per day in the summer. Hourly rates have not yet been announced.

No puffing in public

You are less likely to accidentally inhale cigarette smoke while wandering through Whistler Village - thanks to stronger regulations.

This week, council threw its support behind a bylaw that requires bar, restaurant and shop owners to post signs on their property that state smoking is prohibited on site.

Also, the owners are now on the hook if someone is found smoking within their business property.

"Effectively we are stepping up a notch," commented Mayor Ken Melamed.

"We are moving up to really the best practices in partnership with the other Olympic hosts."

Currently, smoking is not allowed indoors or within 25 metres of playgrounds, playing fields, transit shelters and school property.

If someone lights up in these areas, they can get a ticket worth up to $10,000 or six months in jail.

Switching to natural gas starts this month

Terasen Gas's project to convert Whistler households from propane to natural gas begins this month.

Between April 27 and August this year, the company hopes to successfully convert all 2,500 customers currently on piped propane.

To do this, Terasen staff have divided Whistler into 84 sections and they plans to convert about one section a day, starting with Spring Creek.

You can find the conversion schedule at TerasenGas.com.

"Customers are responsible for providing supervised access to their buildings on conversion day," said Wayne Cankovic from Terasen.

"If we can't get access, the gas supply to their appliances will be shut off to ensure safety."

He added that there is a supplementary schedule for people who can't provide access on their scheduled day.  

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