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Council finally says yes to pave Lot 4

Support to VANOC deal comes with hope that re-using old lights will save $325,000

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Day Skier parking Lot 4 will sport a new coat of asphalt before the Winter Games, now that municipal staff has found a way to shave $325,000 from the project budget.

The deal has been on the table for over a month, but council twice deferred giving its go-ahead because of concerns about how much the municipality would contribute to the joint project with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC).

But the new cost reduction appeared to give council confidence Tuesday as they voted 5-1 in support of the arrangement, albeit with caution.

"I would like to see it come to council (again) before it gets approved," said Quinlan, who added an amendment that staff would have to disclose the final amount to council.

Brian Barnett, general manager of environmental services, believes the municipality can lower its contribution to the deal from $625,000 to $300,000 by changing the light features planned for the parking lot across from Celebration Plaza and the Whistler Health Clinic.

Barnett couldn't say definitively what changes would be done, or how much would be saved, although he stressed relocating old lights from parking Lots 1, 2, and 3 could be a viable option costing only $75,000.

"This might work, but it might not," said Barnett.

"We haven't inspected all the lights to see if it is worth relocating them. They are twenty years old, so they are old technology."

As part of the deal negotiated by the municipality's administrator Bill Barratt, VANOC will also contribute $700,000 to the parking lot project. The lot will be used to facilitate transportation and operations for the Games.

Once paved, Lot 4 will remain free for residents and guests to park their cars. Lot 1, 2 and 3, on the other hand, are slated to become pay parking on June 1, 2010, with rates set at $8 a day during the winter season and $12 a day during the summer. Those three lots are also currently being paved in a $4.6 million municipal-only project.

Lot 5 will remain free and unpaved.

Despite the new proposed cost for the Lot 4 project, Councillor Ralph Forsyth firmly held his opposition, saying "This is still cost."

"We have an option to show restraint and some fiscal respnsibility here."

Councillor Eckhard Ziedler was absent from the meeting.


More changes made to village parking

Meanwhile, the municipality has tuned into community concerns and dropped the two-hour limit on pay parking in the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.

Instead, a flat rate of $10 a day will be charged for people parking their cars in the underground lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with an evening rate of $5 for parking between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Both Mayor Ken Melamed and General Manager Bob McPherson said the decision was made after hearing a large number of concerns from businesses and residents.

Also, Melamed announced pay parking will also be introduced to the lots surrounding municipal hall - although there will likely be some "convenience stalls."

"Staff are not getting a free ride," he said. 

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