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Council throws out motion against paving of Dave Murray Downhill

RMOW news: Strategic plan for library unveiled

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Whistler's acting mayor threw out a motion Tuesday, Jan. 28 that asked him to consider opposing Whistler Blackcomb's (WB) proposed paving of an area of the iconic ski run, the Dave Murray Downhill.

Phillip Langridge is the driving force behind a public campaign launched last spring, Stop the Paving of the Dave Murray Downhill, and has overseen a petition against the proposed parking lot that has so far amassed over 1,200 signatures. He said the ski resort operator is welching on a promise from before the 2010 Olympics to return the area back to its natural state. A section of the run, known as the Timing Flats, was flattened in advance of the Games to create a finish-line staging area.

While the project would require a rezoning consideration — something Whistler officials don't expect to come forward for months, if not years — Langridge hoped council would take a position against the paving of what he called "an iconic world-famous ski run."

Acting mayor Jack Crompton thanked Langridge for his efforts, but said RMOW officials are not in the business of "fettering future council decisions."

"If it comes as a rezoning before mayor and council that will be a decision we will have to make," he said following Tuesday's council meeting. "It's not before us, so it wasn't a decision we felt like we had to make."

Langridge pointed to a copy of a 2009 letter he presented to council from WB's then vice president of operations Doug Forseth, which stated that Whistler Blackcomb "will not have any use for this paved area after the Games so expect that (the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games) VANOC will remove the pavement following Games Time and will restore the ground to its natural state." The letter was addressed to VANOC venue planning manager Katrina Ammer.

Future plans could see the construction of a parking area near the Nordic Estates subdivision for 125 stalls. Original plans filed with the province, which owns a portion of the area and would need to sign off on the project, called for 175 parking spaces. Skier parking at the site would be limited to around four months a year during the winter, according to WB.

Olympic organizers and Whistler Blackcomb headed a $250,000 remediation project at the Timing Flats following the 2010 Games. The area has not yet been completely restored due to its potential as a staging spot for future international ski races, as well as the remaining expensive infrastructure on the site, according to WB.

Library unveils strategic plan

With a new service model, an increase in youth outreach programs and a predicted 17 per cent jump in total visits last year, Whistler Public Library officials had plenty to celebrate as they unveiled their latest strategic plan to council this week.

The strategic priorities detailed in the plan revolved around the expansion of service capacity through the use of technology; the continued design of library spaces that promote comfort and collection; the growth of library users and a collaborative approach to engaging community partners to expand programs.

Tuesday also saw the presentation of the library's 2012 annual report, which saw a slight drop-off in total population served as well as total cardholders. The good news is unconfirmed attendance figures for 2013 are up 17 per cent, said Director Elizabeth Tracy, which she attributed in part to the facility opening on Sundays.

"I think perhaps what's been most important to people, and what we've heard the most are families' ability to come in and enjoy the library on Sundays has resonated with all of us, and it's something we hear almost every weekend," she said.

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