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Editorial

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It will likely be September before a draft of the transportation master plan is made public but in August Whistler will get a glimpse of the future, or at least what the future will look like if no changes are made to current transportation systems and people’s travelling habits. In one nine-day period, starting Aug. 15, Whistler will play host to the final Summit Series concert, which features four bands, the Shell Wonderful World of Golf tournament, the national sprint canoe championships, the Canada Cup mountain bike finale and the Canadian Water Ramp Championships at the freestyle facility on Blackcomb. The concert will bring several thousand people to Whistler. The golf tournament is primarily a television event so there won’t be too many spectators, but there may be some restrictions on movement in and around Nicklaus North. The sprint canoe championships are expected to draw more than 2,000 competitors, spectators and media to Rainbow Park. The mountain bike race will attract several hundred competitors, while the water ramp competition may draw one hundred spectators and competitors. Moving about the valley during this period will be take longer than usual, because of the volume of people on the highway and Valley Trail, but also because certain areas of the valley will be tied up with events. Rather than dread this period of congestion, we should learn from it. Summer is eventually going to pass winter in popularity among visitors — in fact the numbers are getting close now. One of the differences between the seasons is that in the winter most visitors are up the mountains during the day, leaving the valley relatively peaceful. Summer visitors are more likely to come to Whistler in their own vehicle and to pursue a number of activities around the valley, meaning more traffic on the highway and Valley Trail. The transportation master plan is expected to emphasize public transit and provide incentives for people to leave their cars at home. The events in August should reinforce the need to move in this direction. Transportation is key to the liveability of a town, or desirability of a resort. It’s also a critical component in the effort to sustain our environment. There likely won’t be any high-tech, sexy, one-size-fits-all solution proposed to solve Whistler’s transportation needs, but rather a system of expanded bus service, parking regulations, HOV lanes and costs/savings incentives. One of the keys to making it work is attitude. During the busy August period most people will have to think about where they are going and the most efficient means of getting there. In many cases the private automobile will not be the answer. This type of thinking, about how we are going to get around the valley, needs to be done on a daily basis in order for the transportation plan to work and for Whistler to maintain or improve its liveability.

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