This letter was addressed to Premier Gordon Campbell, Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, Jack Poole, Dave Davenport and Ted Nebbeling. A copy was forwarded to Pique.
I write this letter to assist your decision on the current deliberations on alternate routes or substantial upgrades to Highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler.
I speak to you with a background of experience, on the transportation needs for the Winter Olympic Venues. My firm was responsible for Master Planning Canada Olympic Park and Nakiska, site of the Alpine venues for the 1988 XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, as well as Snow Basin for the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in 2002. We have also completed Master Plans and venue design for the 1996 World Alpine Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain and for St. Anton, Austria in 2001.
The point of reference here is that I have personally visited all Winter Olympic venues held since 1956 in Cortina, and therefore I am familiar with the infrastructure, venue and especially the transportation system requirements.
Gentlemen, we do not need a $1.3 billion four-lane highway to Whistler to successfully win the rights to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games! More importantly, we definitely do not need a four-lane highway to host the Alpine and Nordic events at Whistler. I have a great fear that the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Bid Committee has over-emphasized the importance of a new or greatly-expanded highway from Vancouver to Whistler based upon well-meaning but certainly not experienced traffic and transportation consultant studies.
I recall Whistler in the early days when the transportation consultants told the Whistler Council definitively that Highway 99 could never accommodate more than 10,000 skiers per day at Whistler and Blackcomb, and hence the Blackcomb ski area wasnt feasible and that 20,000 beds should be the maximum in the Whistler Valley. Whistler currently has 50,000 beds and Whistler-Blackcomb have peak days of 26,000 skiers which we handle comfortably.
I know of no other venue in the world that required a four-lane freeway between the host city and the Alpine and Nordic venues. Salt Lake City overbuilt their highways to the tune of several billion US dollars, and not only do I recall no traffic jams, but one could have correctly termed the traffic "light" during the Games last February.
I am very worried that taxpayer-funded commitments will have a reverse effect in the Vancouver 2010 bid successfully winning the IOCs nomination to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. As a local resident and business owner in Whistler for over 30 years, I believe I speak for many people when I say that our biggest fear of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games bid is a massive highway upgrade between Vancouver and Whistler. We have designed and built Whistler on the basis of sustainability and land-use capability. The carrying capacity of the mountains has been balanced with the carrying capacity of the valley and environmentally sensitive lands set aside in perpetuity. We long ago established a bed cap at Whistler, firstly for 40,000 beds, then 45,000 beds. Now I believe it has reached 52,500 beds and I can assure you that you can expect very strong local resistance if there are proposals to open up the whole of the Howe Sound-Whistler-Pemberton corridor to unlimited and unfettered development.