Pay parking impacting businesses, say owner 

Some Whistler Village businesses are experiencing dramatic loss in sales relating to pay parking in day lots 1, 2 and 3

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"Our day sales at Tapley's are down at least 50 per cent in September and October," said Dick Gibbons, owner of the Gibbons Hospitality Group. "We attribute pretty much all of that to the pay parking issues."

He said all his businesses, except Buffalo Bill's, which isn't open at lunchtime, have experienced a drop in sales.

Several businesses, mainly restaurants, have experienced a similar dip in sales since pay parking was installed, particularly during lunch hour when many locals who work outside the Village would come in to eat.

Lauren McCann, manager at Moguls, said that the types of traffic in the Village has changed since pay parking has been installed, though the impacts on business for Mogul's hasn't been noticeable because their customer base has always been people who work or live in the Village.

"But as a shopper, I don't come into town because I don't want to pay," McCann said.

Gibbons has been quite vocal in his opinion that pay parking is not a positive thing for the Village, and is in fact "the most counterproductive effort that has been made since I have been involved in Whistler."

Day Lots 4 and 5, which are still free, were close to full this past Saturday, while the pay lots 1, 2 and 3 were almost completely empty with only a few cars and campers scattered throughout. This has typically been the case since pay parking meters were installed in these lots in June.

Gibbons said the only way to solve this issue is to get rid of the pay parking.

"It's pretty simple," he said. "Look, everybody makes mistakes in judgment. I realize that council and the administrators in Whistler are all doing their best to make things work, but from time to time we all make mistakes. This has been a clear mistake in my mind. When you make a mistake, the best thing to do is firstly acknowledge that mistake, and secondly correct it before it compounds itself."

In the beginning, revenue generated from the parking lots is meant to pay for the barrier at Fitzsimmons Creek drainage, a flood-protection measure to mitigate the impacts of the Fitzsimmons land slump on the flank of Whistler Mountain. A portion of the revenue will also fund the RMOW's winter bus service.

Mayor Ken Melamed said in the past that pay parking is a side issue to transportation, and revenue generated from the day lots in the future will fund better public transportation throughout town.

But the project is not doing as well as the RMOW hoped. In July, the pay parking meters pulled in $142,637 of the $199,920 that was projected in 2008 (71 per cent). In August, the RMOW was on its way to meet 60 per cent of projected revenue. Another update will be presented to council in December.

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