By Alison Taylor
In an effort to protect Whistler’s tourism industry council is
speaking out against plans to allow private lodges in provincial parks.
At the request of Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, Whistler will
write a letter to B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner expressing its
opposition to private lodges in parks.
They will also ask the issue to be added to the agenda at the
annual meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in October.
“Not only are the environmental
impacts in parks unacceptable but I don't understand why the provincial
government feels they have to put new operators into competition with resort
communities,” said Zeidler. “Heck, in Whistler we're doing everything we can to
get our occupancy rates to a sustainable level on a year round basis and they
want to take our visitors and plunk them down somewhere else. It doesn't make
any sense if we're supposed to be partners in growing tourism and I wonder who
they are trying to benefit, because it isn't resort communities.”
Penner issued a request for proposals
to put privately-funded accommodation in 12 provincial parks in August. Each
lodge or resort could have up to 100 beds.
The idea, from a provincial
standpoint, is to open access to the parks to encourage a broader range of
tourists and residents to visit.
But Zeidler expressed concerns that
the privatization does not limit future facility expansion and does not follow
SmartGrowth principles, among other things.
Parks that will be considered for
private lodges include Mount Assiniboine in the Kootenays, Golden Ears in the
Lower Mainland and Silver Star (Sovereign Lake) in the Okanagan.
Town hall meeting scheduled
The municipality will be holding a town hall meeting this fall.
The tentative date Oct. 14, with details to follow closer to
Mayor Ken Melamed announced the meeting Tuesday night after
questions from resident John Sinclair who is concerned about the number of
closed door meetings held by council.
People want to be included, Sinclair said, adding that most of
council ran on a platform of transparency at municipal hall.
Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden spoke up in defense of council,
saying that not a closed door meeting goes by where one member of council
doesn’t question whether the discussion should be open to the public. They rely
on municipal staff to guide them in that respect.
“All of us believe in transparent and open government,” said
She said council is not trying to be devious or hide issues but
some things need to be discussed in camera.
“We bring things out as we can.”
Mayor Melamed said that residents would have to take that on
“In the best interests of running the town… that’s how we conduct our business.”