RMOW urges more dialogue on mountain biking in park 

Councillor Jayson Faulkner casts first dissenting vote over response

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The municipality has joined the chorus of community voices eager to keep BC Parks talking and reconsidering its ban on mountain biking in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

"Whistler is in effect the front door to the backcountry in this part of park," said municipal sustainability coordinator Kevin Damaskie in his presentation to council Tuesday, referring to Whistler's interest in the ultimate plans for the park.

In its comments on the draft management plan, council requested that BC Parks keep the door open for dialogue on the issue. At the same time it has thrown its general support behind the draft management plan for the Spearhead Area of the park.

"The RMOW is supportive of an ongoing, collaborative dialogue between BC Parks, RMOW and other relevant stakeholders regarding the potential addition of cross country mountain biking as a park use," states the municipal staff report. "Above treeline mountain bike infrastructure experiences and stunning viewscapes are a value-add to the resort community's current trail offerings — enhancing resort experience, community life and economic viability. RMOW recommends the management plan amendment reflect a commitment to that dialogue."

In November the BC Parks draft plan included a continued ban on mountain biking in the section of park that includes Singing Pass and Musical Bumps, much to the dismay of mountain biking advocates in the community.

BC Parks initiated the management plan amendment to address several issues in the area. Among them:

• Challenges with public access

• Increasing summer and winter use

• Addressing popularity of mountain biking

• Interest in developing a system of backcountry huts, and

• Renewal of the heli-skiing tenure.

The issue is near and dear to Councillor Jayson Faulkner's heart. He is intimately involved in the Spearhead Huts proposal and is the council rep on the Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee (FWAC), which does not support the continued heli-skiing tenure in the park.

Faulkner voted against the municipal response, effectively casting the first dissenting vote after more than a year at the council table.

Florence Petersen Park approved

Beloved Whistler pioneer Florence Petersen will have a spot forever in her name among the tall trees of a village forest.

Petersen passed away in late August. At the request of the executive director of the Whistler Museum, Sarah Drewery, council was asked to consider naming the open space next to the museum after its founder.

It has gone one step further.

In addition to that open space, council is also renaming the adjacent Village Park Centre. It will create a new park altogether with a new name — Florence Petersen Park.

The improvements, which include adding signage and seating and improving pathways and sightlines, are set to take place in the spring/summer once the 2013 municipal budget has been approved.

"I'm really please to see this moving forward as quickly as it has," said Councillor Jayson Faulkner, the municipal representative on the museum board.

Not only does it recognize an important figure in Whistler's history, it will also help raise the profile and visibility of the museum, which was always close to Petersen's heart.

Tremblant trumps Whistler for ski museum

The Canadian Ski Museum will be moving to Mont Tremblant, not Whistler.

The museum's board of directors announced the winning bid last week. Tremblant beat out four other bids from B.C.

Council recognized the efforts of local businessman Peter Alder in putting together a bid that would entice the ski museum here, though it was unsuccessful.

The museum includes the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and has more the 15,000 artifacts.

The ski museum was located in Ottawa until 2011.

Public to see audain art museum design next week

Simple, elegant and respectful of the natural environment is how Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden sums up the preliminary design plans for the Audain Art Museum.

"It's completely different from what I expected it would be," she admitted after Tuesday's council meeting in which council began the rezoning process for the municipally owned land between Day Lots 3 and 4.

That rezoning paves the way for a 25,000 square feet building plus a useable basement. It will also include a gift shop, a café and a caretaker suite.

As part of the staff presentation Tuesday, one slide included a bird's eye view of what the museum will look like on the land — a long, narrow rectangle, cutting diagonally across the site.

"It's a big building but my sense of it is it's going to fit very nicely into that location," said the mayor of the 1.2 hectare site.

The two-storey building rests on concrete pillars because it is located on the other side of the village dyke in the flood plain.

And though it may not have been what she herself had initially imagined, the mayor added: "It's fantastic."

The public will be able to see for itself on Wednesday Jan. 30 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Millennium Place at a public open house.

RMOW changes reps on VANOC board

Whistler has a new face at the board of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games as it continues to wrap up the business of the Games.

Municipal lawyer Sharon Fugman is now the lone representative for Whistler on the VANOC board after Tourism Whistler president and CEO Barrett Fisher and former municipal administrator Jim Godfrey stepped down recently.

Wilhelm-Morden explained that VANOC is wrapping up its activities in the wake of the 2010 Olympics, though it is still functioning in some capacity for things like outstanding lawsuits.

"A lot of the issues they're dealing with are administrative/legal in nature so it makes sense to have our in-house counsel on that board," said the mayor.

Since the Games the board has overseen decisions such as spending more than $2 million on capital improvements to the Whistler venues — $1.7 million for upgrades to the Whistler sliding track and $350,000 for kitchen upgrades at the athletes' centre.

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