Olympic Games organizers do not expect any extra traffic via Sea to Sky's northern gateway, officials with the Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation said Tuesday.
Daniel Sailland, administrator of the Mount Currie Band, confirmed to Pique that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) is not expecting any additional traffic over the Duffey Lake Road.
Just under a year ago Pemberton saw itself as 2010's "northern gateway," a place where Games participants would park their cars and ride into Whistler where events were taking place.
But as VANOC allegedly told Mount Currie, there won't really be any additional traffic coming from what is essentially a back door into Whistler.
"That is what the Lil'wat Nation has heard," Sailland said in an interview. "They're not expecting any significant changes of traffic flow coming from the north, that's what we've been told to date and once again, if that changes, I'm sure we'd be notified. So far that's the story we've received."
Mount Currie Chief Leonard Andrew confirmed what Sailland said, but he admitted there probably won't be that much more.
"I think there will be additional (traffic) but not that much because of the fact that it's going to be so controlled from the other side," he said.
Security forces, meanwhile, do expect increased traffic from the north. Staff Sergeant Mike Cote, a spokesman for the Integrated Security Unit (ISU), said the unit does expect more traffic than normal because of the Olympics.
"The populations are very aware of the increased traffic and the activities in the Sea to Sky corridor so they may heed to those warnings and not use their vehicles," he said. "At this point in time I guess we'll have to wait and see. Certainly VANOC's message has been all along, was to avoid Sea to Sky, certainly avoid the area if you don't have somewhere to park and we've been encouraging transit to go to the venues."
VANOC, asked how much traffic it expects over the Duffey, deferred the question to B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation. Spokesperson Maureen Douglas said there will be no checkpoint between Pemberton and Whistler, adding that spectators are being encouraged to travel on the Olympic bus network.
Douglas went on to say in an e-mailed response that anyone driving into Whistler without confirmed parking could spend their time "circling the community looking for public parking that does not exist." They also risk being ticketed or towed.
That, too, could prove a big logistical problem for Olympic organizers. If any additional traffic comes from the north and can't find a place to park in Whistler, they may be left with the option of parking in Pemberton and riding the bus network into the resort.
The problem with that, however, is that Pemberton indeed has parking but only a limited number of spaces in areas close to where the buses will travel. There are parking spaces in the downtown area but in the event of increased traffic from the north, combined with Pemberton residents parking to take the bus network into their jobs in Whistler, such spaces could be limited.
The Village of Pemberton has sought a park and ride as a solution to parking issues in town in order that residents who live 20 kilometres from the town centre can easily access the bus network.
But according to a strongly-worded letter sent to VANOC by Mayor Jordan Sturdy last week, Games organizers are refusing to pay for one and the Village can't afford it on its own. Sturdy's letter doesn't even mention the possibility of increased traffic from the north.