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Events in Lot 4 won't reduce free parking

Revenue in first six weeks of pay parking below projections



Free parking will be allowed in pay lots when Lot 4 is being used for events.

Council passed the resolution Tuesday after Councillor Eckhard Zeidler raised the issue during discussion of the GranFondo bicycle ride taking up the free day lot on Sept. 11.

Zeidler's concern was that the free parking the community was promised would "vanish." An equal number of free parking spots will be provided in the current pay parking spots.

Councillor Grant Lamont echoed Zeidler's comments, saying that many Whistler residents are facing issues of affordability.

"If we do have a strategy to attract events by offering them Lot 4... we should definitely be able to move those carrots for our people in the community to be able to have their parking as well," Lamont said.

The motion, moved by Zeidler and seconded by Councillor Ralph Forsyth, passed 6 to 1, opposed only by Mayor Ken Melamed who said he's opposed to free parking altogether. He said it worked against the community's goals to limit vehicular traffic in Whistler and promote higher bus ridership and cycling.

"I thought that council was ill-advised to make Lots 4 and 5 free. I think it's undermining the strategy," Melamed said. "It is completely defensible the approach we took for user pay, the people who use the lots should rightly pay for them."

Bob MacPherson, general manager of community life for the Resort Municipality of Whistler said staff had previously considered this issue. The alternative would be to provide free transit when Lot 4 is being used. The cost of free transit to the municipality would be $3,500, McPherson said, compared to the $5,000 it would cost to allocate free parking spaces.

The motion arose following a pay-parking update to council by MacPherson. In July, the pay parking meters pulled in $142,637 of the $199,920 that was projected in 2008 (71 per cent). In August, the RMOW is on its way to meeting 60 per cent of projected revenue.

Overall, MacPherson reported the municipality has $220,000 more revenue than last summer. He said that revenue from transit is up, which staff said is a good indication that transit usage is up in 2010.

The trend after just over a month of pay parking shows people are using the day lots, but the free lots fill up first. MacPherson said most visitors are paying, but one of the biggest challenges the RMOW faces is competition in the free lots.

"It's pretty difficult to sell $12 pizza when free pizza is available next door," MacPherson said.

To solve some visitor complaints, he said staff is looking into installing a pay meter in the village, as well as the possibility of topping up payment from visitors' smart phones.


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