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creekside waits

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Creekside merchants still waiting for Lake Placid improvements By Andy Stonehouse As the years go by and Whistler Village continues to see further improvements and new development, merchants in the community's original commercial core say they've almost given up hope of a long-awaited Creekside facelift. Gordon McKeever, head of the Creekside Merchants' Association, said he and his members feel they've been completely forgotten by the municipality, despite years of promised improvements. "We've got potholes out here approaching the median age of Whistler itself," McKeever said. "Nothing's happened here, or seems to be happening, and as an organization, we've backed off completely." McKeever said he and his fellow merchants wonder what's become of some $900,000 budgeted by the municipality since 1996 for sidewalk and underground electrical improvements along the slowly decaying Lake Placid Road. "Where the hell did the money go? In some ways, the muni's spending money left and right, like the village water park, the Valley Trail between Alpine and Emerald, and the Nordic overpass. We get more traffic in one week on Lake Placid than they do in a whole summer on the new section of Valley Trail." McKeever said a sense of lethargy has developed in the Creekside area following Intrawest's acquisition of Whistler Mountain, and with delays for Intrawest's development at the Creekside base, he said he doesn't expect action quickly. "It's obvious that Intrawest's plans will take a long time and will depend on environmental and market issues. Maybe we can look forward to (Lake Placid work) as an Olympic project." Ken Derpak, municipal finance director, said the money for the project still exists, but depends on council's desires. Under the 1998 budget, $1,923,807 has been earmarked in the public works and transportation portion for Lake Placid road work. Derpak said that figure includes approximately $900,000 held over from last year's works and service fund, plus a yet-unanswered request for a $1 million federal infrastructure grant. Whistler’s request for an infrastructure grant has been turned down the last two years. Steve Black, transportation manager for the municipality, said he continues to wait for word from council to begin the work. "We have the money allocated, and we're starting to look at what we can do with the money we have," he said. "We're now waiting to see because it's so late in the year to start construction. The whole thing depends on council." Ron Hosner, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and owner of Hoz's Pub, said he remains extremely skeptical about work being completed on the road which fronts his property. "It's quite a disappointment, based on the election promises," he said. "I don't think any of us believe it's going to happen. We haven't even received basic maintenance out here — we pay business taxes but we get rural attention." Hosner said he's experienced a bit of a downturn in business at his pub and restaurant over the year, but said he can't be sure how much of that can be attributed to roads and parking in the area. McKeever said he also hopes that discussions will continue with B.C. Rail to ensure that the train station remains in Creekside, or the area could lose a significant business anchor.

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