If Whistler is really serious about sustainability, it should examine the forecasted 50 per cent increase in traffic up the corridor over the next 20 years. When is it that Whistler expects to start becoming sustainable? Today? Tomorrow?
Does sustainability mean 20 minute lift lines? Maybe it does. But, enter three new chairs in the Flute area. That should spread us out a bit. Maybe; until we build another 1,000 beds to fill it all up again.
And, how will we all get here? The plan seems to be up a new, improved and expanded Highway 99. Our little contribution to the spirit of ratifying the Kyoto Accord. Maybe B.C. should get behind Alberta in supporting our federal government's commitment. We'll have to close the highway for 1 1/2 of the next four years. And, how will we all get here?
To offset this disruption, alternate modes of transportation will be necessary. It seems ludicrous to temporarily employ lower-impact transportation, only to revert back to a problem with no solution.
Down the road (for lack of a better expression), it will be easier (and cheaper) to put another car on the train or another boat on the water than it will be to put another lane on the Killer. Let's not put a band aid on a wound that requires stitches.
A rail link either above or below the Burrard Inlet is key. Imagine thousands of skiers who have never driven in snow getting on a train at YVR and not having to get off until Whistler. Imagine Squamish as a cruise ship port with connecting rail day trips to Whistler, Pemberton, Lillooet and beyond; or "Canda's Outdoor Recreation Capital" having a ski resort of its own. That should spread us out a bit.
It's not like the money isn't there. We all know how frugal all levels of government are with our tax dollars. We bail out Air Canada, why not subsidize BC Rail?
Didn't the conference centre just get voted best conference centre by some conference centre magazine? Can we recycle the old one? Aren't there other conference facilities already existing in village hotels?
When will our mythical "build-out" actually occur? When will council stop entertaining amendments to our OCP? Can Whistler sustain itself at present visitor levels with existing services? Is sustainability really achievable? Probably not. Modern competitive economic theory dictates growth. People will always want bigger, faster, better, etc.
If this is the case, let's stop deluding ourselves with all the doublespeak, conjecture and rhetoric. Let's see ourselves for what we really are unsustainable.
But, maybe it is achievable. In which case, when do we start? Today? Tomorrow?