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Municipality on standby as storm brings heavy rainfall to Whistler

UPDATE: RMOW sets up self-serve sandbag station for residents at Public Works Yard, Ski Callaghan closes for weekend

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The municipality is making plans to double Whistler’s water storage capacity in the form of a new reservoir.

Council is applying for a Crown land lease that will pave the way for a new reservoir on Whistler Mountain, not far from the existing Olympic Reservoir, which is reaching the end of its lifespan and cannot hold enough water for the town.

“This reservoir is a critical piece of village infrastructure,” said Michael Day, manager of utilities. It is so critical, he added, that it couldn’t be demolished without the new reservoir first being in place.

The issue of Whistler’s water storage shortage was raised during recent studies looking at the overall water master plan. It shows that the village could have a water shortage in the event of a large-scale fire, or a drought during high occupancy.

“We would potentially be short on water in the village,” said Day.

The new site is located below where the Fitzsimmons Chairlift and the Whistler Gondola converge. It will be designed so as not be as tall as the 30-metre high Olympic Reservoir.

Whistler Blackcomb has provided a letter of support for the initiative.

Lost Lake bylaw moving forward

Council had another chance to consider what has become a controversial bylaw amendment limiting uses at Lost Lake Park.

An administrative glitch at the previous council meeting meant only first and second readings of the bylaw, which prohibits hikers, dog walkers, and fat bikes in the park, were approved. Council must give three readings of a bylaw before officially adopting it into law.

At Tuesday’s meeting council gave unanimous support for third reading of the bylaw, which will include a $100 fine, but not without raising some concerns.

“I think this bylaw addresses something in the short term,” said Councillor Jack Crompton.

He, along with other members of council, is concerned this is not a long-term solution to deal with all the stakeholders interested in using the Lost Lake trails.

“I would like to see something a little more nuanced come forward next year, if we could,” Crompton added.

His sentiments were echoed by Councillor Jen Ford who added: “I too would like to see a little more diversity in the trails for next year.”

As for fat bikes, she added: “We can’t ignore them. They are here.”

Councillor John Grills also raised the issue of the last two challenging snow seasons in the valley and what that means for the future of the Nordic trails in the village.

What is the long-term plan for the winter use of those village trails, he asked.

Council is set to consider adoption of the Lost Lake trail bylaw at a future meeting.