Summer day-parking rates go up with new strategy 

Upset locals used to free parking speaking out


The much-anticipated strategy for the day skier lots has been unveiled, launching the next chapter in Whistler's struggle with parking issues.

As of June 1, free parking will be available in day skier Lots 4 and 5 from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. only. At all other times fees will be charged similar to Lots 1 to 3, and payment options will range from hourly, daily, evening, overnight, monthly and - for locals only - three- and six-month passes. The price is also increasing to $13.50 a day during the summer and $9 during the winter months.

Russell Long of Katmandu said he was pretty choked when he heard of the new fee structure.

"It is another form of taxation for the local people," he said. "You have to pay to work in this town now."

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) released the new parking strategy through a four-page Whistler Way advertising insert in the local newspapers.

Jan Jansen, the RMOW general manager of resort experience, said the strategy was aimed at achieving three main goals: to change behavior, improve the visitor experience and act in a fiscally responsible manner.

The RMOW has spent more than $11 million to upgrade the lots and to build the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier to protect the lots - a responsibility that the RMOW assumed in exchange for ownership of the lots from the provincial government.

"That is money spent and money that needs to get back into the reserves of the municipality," said Jansen.

Lot 5 will be paved some time after the GranFondo in September when traffic in the day lots is at its lowest.

Since the implementation of pay parking the average revenue has been $78,000 a month and the lots are projected to bring in $1.375 million in 2011. Jansen said $2 million a year is needed to cover all the financial commitments attached to the lots.

"The numbers of vehicles we're seeing in the day lots really hasn't changed since the introduction of pay parking," said Jansen.

The parking pattern has shifted since pay parking was first implemented in July 2010, he said, with employees filling up many of the free spots in Lots 4 and 5 early in the day. Visitors who generally arrive later, making use of the spots in the Lots 1, 2 and 3.

The desired change in behaviour is to increase the use of transit, bikes, trails and shuttles to get around Whistler. It's estimated that 49 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Whistler come from passenger vehicles.

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