Pay parking in day-skier lots starts June 28 

Municipality anticipates $2 million in annual revenue from three lots

Pay parking for three of the day-skier lots is slated to begin on June 28, Bob MacPherson, general manager of community life, told council Tuesday.

"We want to make sure we do innovative things at the launch," Macpherson explained. "For people parking there regularly, this is not going to be perceived as good news, and we want to remind people of why this is being done."

The latest plans peg rates at $8 per day during the ski season and at least $12 a day during the rest of the year. Hourly rates will be $1 for the first hour, $2 for the next three hours and $5 for the evening.

Municipal staff are also planning to put a pay-by-license system into the three parking lots closest to Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, said MacPherson.

Guests will enter their license plate numbers into special stations after entering the parking lots to pay for parking, he explained. Bylaw officers would then patrol the lots with special license plate recognition equipment to record numbers.

Similar plans are used in Amsterdam, Aspen and Calgary, said Macpherson.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler issued a request for proposals to set up the pay-by-license system last week.

Pay parking in Whistler has been a fiery subject ever since council first introduced rates to the traditionally free underground lot next to the Telus Whistler Conference Centre last year.

Whistler residents banded together to fight the issue, with over 1,500 people signing paper and online petitions. Over 100 people also packed into MY Millennium Place to voice their discontent at one point.

Council has said in the past that the move towards pay parking is part of a strategy to increase the municipality's revenue while also decreasing the number of people driving to the village.

On Tuesday, MacPherson estimated the annual revenue from pay parking at the day-skier lots would be around $2 million. Current revenues collected by municipality from pay parking are about 10 per cent of that.

At least $500,000 of the parking revenue would go towards enhancing transit in Whistler. The rest of the money would help pay off the construction costs of the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier, as well as pay for operating the pay parking system.

The day-skier lots - which were transferred from the province to the municipality in 2008 - will be operated in partnership with Whistler Blackcomb.

Council received the information report with little discussion.

Meanwhile, MacPherson said there are no plans currently to bring pay parking to lots 4 and 5. Whistler Blackcomb's lots 6, 7 and 8, along with the Creekside lot, will also stay free for the 2010/2011 ski season.

The municipality plans to release a more comprehensive report on parking in Whistler in October.



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