Pay parking debate to rage on at council table 

Ted Milner said council taking blame for pricing structure it didn't create


Councillor Ted Milner wants to set the record straight and ensure this council doesn't take the blame for a pay parking regime that some of them are against.

"The pay parking is ridiculous and I'm totally against it and I think some of my brothers are here as well, so we'll see how it works out," said Milner after Tuesday's council meeting.

So, he has set the stage for a public debate at the council table.

In a surprise notice of motion that was added to Tuesday's council agenda at the last minute, Milner said he would like to go back to the drawing board to "develop an appropriate and resort-friendly parking plan."

His notice of motion was quietly passed by council, which means it will be on next Thursday's agenda, May 26, the date of the next public council meeting.

In addition, Milner wants to rescind the delegation of the authority of the Parking Lot Operating Committee and put the ultimate decision directly in council's hands.

That committee, which is made up of two senior members of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and two senior members of Whistler Blackcomb, is responsible for decisions about the Day Lots' management, including parking rates, hours, budget and maintenance.

"What we did was delegate authority to a parking committee and the whole idea was that they would make decisions and it wouldn't impact us politically or otherwise, but we're wearing this," said Milner.

"It's way more impact than we thought there would be."

Last week the municipality announced the new pay parking structure for the day lots, which essentially scrapped any free parking and set an aggressive daily parking rate at $13.50.

"They went ahead and they set all these rates that we don't agree with," said Milner.

The news was met with outrage in the community and this week the Whistler Chamber of Commerce said it would not support the plan.

"... Whistler business owners and the local economy as a whole, like many others has been subject to severe external factors outside their control," said WCC President Fiona Famulak in a release.

"Those factors include a depressed global economy, a high currency exchange rate, high oil prices and the imposition of a new consumer sales tax. On the basis of these factors and the potential imposition of yet another economic burden on both customers and businesses, the WCC cannot offer its unqualified support of the concept of user-pay parking in Day Lots 1 to 5."

This week, however, Doug Forseth, senior vice-president of Whistler Blackcomb, said there was always a chance that pay parking was coming to the day lots - it's just taken more than ten years to get here.

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