Pay parking delay a reprieve for drivers 

2011 municipal budget developed with summer revenues in mind

Whistler's 2011 budget may now be short hundreds of thousands of dollars in the wake of a decision to delay the new pay parking program.

On Monday, at the 11 th hour, the municipality announced that the June 1 roll out of pay parking over all village day lots at the higher rates would be delayed. Lots 4 and 5 are to remain free for the time being and Lot 5 paving has been cancelled.

"It's a first step," said a pleased Councillor Ted Milner, who instigated the second look at the pay parking program.

"We're not done yet."

At his request, with support from Councillors Ralph Forsyth, Eckhard Zeidler and Grant Lamont, the Parking Lot Operating Committee was asked to renegotiate the rates and delay implementation.

That committee is made up of two senior Whistler Blackcomb employees and two senior municipal staff members. It proposed making all the day lots pay parking with a $13.50 daily rate in the summer.

"I think the choices that they're making are ridiculous because they're determining parking rates driven by their perceived costs and expenses, which is backwards," said Milner.

"Business begins and ends with the client.

"It's Soviet Union stuff and central planning like that doesn't work."

The "client," or hundreds of locals, has been raging over the proposed pay parking program.

The $1.5 million in revenue from pay parking was set to be disbursed in a number of different ways. Half a million was to go to transit, roughly $300,000 to $400,000 was to go to operating the day lots and the remainder to go to paying off the multi-million dollar debris barrier built on Fitzsimmons Creek.

"People have to understand though that there's a certain amount of cost involved in this that has to be looked after," said Whistler Blackcomb's Senior Vice-President of Operations Doug Forseth, after the Thursday, May 26 meeting. "That's often not talked about. And that's a problem with this discussion is that everyone wants something for free but there are no free lunches here."

Milner said he supports pay parking but not at the proposed $13.50 per day rate. He also said there should be a variety of options for people - more expensive parking closer to the base of the mountains, cheaper or free parking further away,

"(Making it) 50 cents off isn't going to do it," he said.

But changing the pay parking program will have ramifications on the 2011 municipal budget. Those ramifications have yet to be determined.

"We are not OK with reducing the amount of contribution to transit," said Forseth. "We are not OK with reducing covering the operating costs.

"The other thing that we will not agree to is that this becomes a political football. It was structured to be a business proposition and not something councillors, elected officials, are going to manage because we don't want to put the business of this community in the hands of the politicians, for the reasons that maybe they're making decisions that are politically-motivated instead of business-motivated overall."

A staff report including the committee's proposed next steps and process to review the rates will be presented at the June 21 council meeting.





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