Workers bear brunt of parking changes
The recent changes being made by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to public parking in Whistler feel like a misguided step trying to address a much larger problem.
Whistler had one of its busiest years on record, higher occupancy rates in hotels, more daily-tourist visits, and more profits for local businesses. While it might be tempting to say that it is only a result of a great snow year, it's a trend that's been on the rise for the last number of seasons.
This success comes at a cost.
Many homes are not occupied by permanent residents, a statistic reflected in the soaring cost of rent. Lack of parking, not just during major events, and gridlock trying to leave the village are the new norm. While Whistler Blackcomb and Whistler business as a whole celebrate profit growth, the standard wage has changed very little.
Most entry-level jobs pay little to nothing above the provincial minimum of $10.85. Many long-term locals have had to leave town seeking an affordable cost of living in Pemberton or Squamish, commuting daily to and from Whistler. Living here is definitely not easy, but it's a cost that many residents are willing to pay because of everything else it has to offer. As we enter the summer of 2017, and what is already setting up to be another record-setting one, council has attempted to address the issue of congestion by removing free parking from Lots 4 and 5. If you are visiting from Vancouver, the $10 cost for day parking is a small hit, but for the already overextended local residents it feels as though they are bearing the penalty for Whistler's success.
In response to this, the RMOW has touted the increases to secure public bike storage, free transit use on the weekends, and an increases in bus service. In a press release, all these measures seem to establish the town as environmentally and community responsible. In reality, they are stopgap measures to address the much larger traffic volume coming from the Lower Mainland.These solutions are also poorly thought out.
Biking is not feasible for six months of the year and entirely unrealistic for anyone coming from Pemberton or Squamish.
The transit system in town is complicated with long travel times; there is minimal service to Pemberton and nothing for Squamish. The municipality has put no pressure on the province to create an effective transit system servicing the Sea to Sky corridor as a whole.
These changes make no effort to make living and working in Whistler easier, offering parking spaces for local employees only, creating an express bus that only travels on Highway 99 and runs every 15 minutes might address these issues with locals in mind.
The motivations of the RMOW seem not to be in service of its citizens, rather in the financial interests of the tourism industry. This issue may seem at face value a simple issue of locals getting angry about having to pay for parking; in reality, it's an allegory for the larger issue at its core — one where the realities of Whistler's high cost of living are forcing out its core population, thereby risking losing what made it the icon that it is today.
Better to be proactive on transportation issues
Could it be that Whistler and its residents have finally come to their senses with its 2017 Transportation Action Plan (TAP)? Are they going to give up their seemingly God-given right to free parking?The populists ignorantly decided that paying for parking in the day lots was anathema to their existence in 2011, throwing away years of potential revenue for transit, only delaying the inevitable and wasting money.
Are they actually going to finally use a bike storage-end-of-trip facility that was initially constructed for them a decade ago?When the present library was designed, an end-of-trip facility with numerous showers, lockers, and the option for bike storage was (part of the plan). It languished unused for years, sitting empty under the library until the decision was made to turn it in to a staff lunchroom.
Now James Hallisey, manager of infrastructure services has said, "One of the things we got from the feedback was that people are reluctant to ride their expensive bikes into the Village because they don't feel there are safe places to put them, so we're going to improve that situation." Fortunately for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and James Hallisey, this space is still zoned for an end-of-trip facility and accommodating bike storage would be relatively easy.
Unfortunately, the RMOW has already spent money once on such infrastructure, then let it sit unused, spent money to tear it down and renovate it, and now want to spend money on something of a similar, or lesser quality, seven years later. The proactive approach Whistler could have taken would have been preferable. I can only hope that these reactive moves lead to some relief of the only increasing traffic woes.
Thank you Pemberton Music Festival
Most of us found out the news last Thursday, May 18, about the Pemberton Music Festival going bankrupt, and I wanted to shed some light on my experience with the event.
As a local DJ and music lover I've had the most amazing time the last two years at the festival. There certainly is something magical in those mountains surrounding Pemberton.
The talent, whether it was the bands or DJs, they all seemed to bring their A Game and put on an amazing show for the fans. Hats off to Huka for taking a chance with our low Canadian dollar and bringing some amazing acts like Pearl Jam, Tiesto, The Killers, Alice Cooper — the list goes on.
And it's really a shame that there was so much negativity around the lineup this year. I personally thought it was great and looked forward to it.
People need to have an open mind when it comes to music and festivals. It's about exploring new music and not complaining about it.
The world is such a negative place these days and music is the one thing that brings us together to bring out the positives. I hope the trickle down effect doesn't affect too many businesses in Whistler and Pemberton. I know McDonald's will take a hit (haha).
Once again, thank you Huka Entertainment for bringing a truly world-class festival to the Sea to Sky corridor and giving we attendees the best weekend of the summer.
Mountain Bike Heritage Week a success
The Whistler Museum would like to thank everyone who helped make the second annual Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week a success. It wouldn't have been possible without your support and participation.
Special thanks to our speakers Tom Prochazka, Nicole Freeman and Jamie Houssian, and to our partners and sponsors: the Resort Municipality of Whistler, GOFest, WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., Whistler Public Library, Forlisë, Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com, Arts Whistler, Whistler Bike Park, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Coast Mountain Brewing, David's Tea and the Province of British Columbia.
We'd also like to thank everyone who came out to the events. We're looking forward to next year already!
Events and Community Manager, Whistler Museum
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the runners who came out to support the 26th Annual Whistler Valley Trail Run this past weekend, May 20.
We had a record number of participants this year and amazing support from volunteers and local community businesses which all contributed to the race's success.
I would like to especially thank the team of volunteers who helped organize the race: Jim Budge, Dave Clark, Diana Rochon, and Cathy Jewett.
I would also like to thank the many local businesses that supported our event including: PureSource H20, 3 Singing Birds, Sportstop, Whistler Golf Club, Nonna Pia's, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Delta Village Suites, Sea to Sky Mortgages, Lole Whistler, Lululemon Whistler, Starbucks Coffee and C2SkyMultisport.
Thank you to you all and hope to see you next year!
Race Director, C2sky Multisport Coaching