Opinion » Editorial


Bed units and parking stalls Bed knobs and carrot-sticks A pair of municipally-sponsored information sessions concerning Intrawest’s Comprehensive Development Strategy for Creekside, including The Peaks and Spring Creek, were reasonably successful last week, drawing more than 250 people. Given the size and scope of the plan — it involves 1,700 bed units — and its importance to the community and particularly the Creekside area, it rightfully should attract attention and generate considerable discussion. The project offers numerous community benefits, including Valley Trail connections, affordable resident housing, a serviced elementary school site, a serviced site for a daycare facility and seed money for the facility, a serviced site for a fire hall and three new parks. It should also kick-start revitalization of adjacent neighbourhoods in Whistler Creek. All three projects — Creekside, The Peaks and Spring Creek — will be considered by council in one comprehensive bylaw package Aug. 23. A public hearing on the whole project will be held Sept. 7 and the whole CDS will be considered for third reading on Sept. 13. It either all passes or it all fails. While each of the three projects raises issues and questions on its own, what is less obvious is how the CDS relates to other areas of the valley and other municipal policies, in particular, the transportation strategy. The Creekside redevelopment will mean the loss of some of the surface parking currently available but the actual number of parking spaces will increase, from 1,000 to 1,450, when Intrawest builds a four-level parking structure. The "catch" is it will all be pay-parking, as prescribed by the transportation strategy’s carrot and stick approach to getting people out of their cars and into public transit. While there will be a net increase in parking stalls at Creekside, at the other end of town there will be a straight loss. That will be at Lot E, the day skier parking lot below the Chateau Whistler. Partial development of Lot E has always been contemplated, but the tentative plan now is to develop the entire lot, using the remainder of Whistler Mountain’s bed units (approximately 600) and development rights from the Emerald Forest. Originally Lot E was part of the Creekside CDS but it is now being considered separately, in part due to the complex and apparently fragile nature of negotiations among Intrawest, the municipality and the Decigon group which owns the Emerald Forest lands. The plan, which has yet to be officially announced, will see Intrawest purchase the Emerald Forest from Decigon, turn the land over to the municipality and transfer approximately 36 bed units from the Emerald Forest to Lot E, giving Intrawest a total of about 626 bed units on Lot E. The municipality will see the Emerald Forest preserved, Intrawest will have additional development rights and skiers and boarders will have one less parking lot and one more reason to ride the bus to the lifts. There may not be a net loss of parking stalls in the village-Blackcomb area, as part of the transportation strategy is to pave the day-skier lots between the village and Fitzsimmons Creek. By paving the lots parking will become more efficient, the argument goes, and that increase in efficiency should make up for the loss of Lot E. But of course, once the lots are paved they too will become pay-parking.