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With Labour Day out of the way, the kids back to school and the incredible summer weather apparently having come to an end, it’s time to get back to work. Much of Whistler has this week suddenly gone into panic mode as retailers, tour operators and everyone else with business ties to the ski season looked at the calendar and realized opening day is just over 10 weeks away. Fall should be savoured — the cooler mornings, changing colour of the leaves and the slowly dwindling number of visitors — but it’s also time to make some constructive steps on a number of ongoing projects. One of the most significant projects, affecting everyone in Whistler, is the Transportation Master Plan, now two and half years in the making, and counting. The Transportation Advisory Group is expected to make public a preliminary Transportation Master Plan this month. TAG’s duties haven’t been made any easier by the Olympic bid which has developed since the group began its work, and they are likely complicated by the fact the Canadian Olympic Association won’t make its decision until November. However, it is time to make some decisions on transportation, to choose a direction and follow through. It won’t be an easy decision — nothing that involves changing habits and/or preserving the environment ever is — and it won’t be a decision made in isolation; transportation issues are bound to involve the provincial government and perhaps neighbouring municipalities. That is perhaps the biggest variable TAG has to deal with: how people get around in Whistler is in large part determined by how they get here, and how they get here is largely going to be determined by federal and provincial governments and what they are willing to spend. Almost as significant is Intrawest’s plans and vision for getting people to their mountains. Individual vehicles have long been a key part of going skiing or boarding; changes in that way of thinking are likely going to be gradual, rather than immediate. And then there are the summer visitors, a different demographic even more dependent on vehicles. Whatever is proposed by TAG should be viewed as part of a package, with various aspects designed to work together as part of an overall direction, to get locals and visitors to and around Whistler. There will no doubt be debate and dissent but the overall objectives should be recognized. The proposal should also be brought forward soon, while we have the fall to consider it.

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