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gondola expand

Trion development, gondola expansion may create access problems Whistler Mountain's expansion plans for its village gondola station were given conditional approval by council Monday, but the building expansion and development in-fill may require new measures to ensure access to the area. Whistler Mountain will add a 225-seat jazz lounge on the roof of the gondola building this summer, double the size of the Ski Scamps area when it is relocated to the west side of the building, and double the size of the Guest Relations area. But in addition to Whistler Mountain's plans, Vancouver's Trion International Enterprises Corp. hopes to begin work on a hotel at the former waterslides site this summer. The hotel opening is planned for the 1997/98 season. As well, Burrard International owns Lot 45, currently a pay parking lot next to Blackcomb's Excalibur Gondola, which is zoned for a hotel. Burrard hasn't announced a date for construction. With two high-speed gondolas in the area skier access is crucial. But when both hotels are built access to the lifts may be difficult. "Access to this area from the day skier parking lot is already inadequate," Councillor Bill Murray said. He suggested a pedestrian overpass from the day skier lot may be part of the solution. Councillor Hugh O'Reilly noted Mammoth Mountain in California has "people movers" to carry skiers from parking lots to the lifts. Municipal staff, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb will look at creating a master plan to ensure access to the area. Whistler Mountain's development representative, Howard Nemtin, told council the building expansion is necessary keep pace with the rise in winter and summer visitors to the mountain. He added, "We are going to make sure people get to our lift."