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Municipality readies Function for improvements

Pedestrian path, Valley Trail improvements on tap

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Having been a resident of Whistler's Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood since it was founded 10 years ago, Michael Boehm has seen the community grow firsthand.

And with that have come some serious safety concerns in Cheakamus and the neighbouring Function Junction.

"It is still an industrial section, I understand that, but we also have people living and working down here, and there are many tourist attractions that are down here," Boehm said.

"I ride my bike and walk down here five, six days a week. The number of close incidents that I've seen with traffic—it's not right."

Boehm was one of about 35 people at an open house on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Art Junction in Function Junction to learn more about the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) plans for the area.

On tap for 2019 are a pedestrian path in Function and a Valley Trail connection to the neighbourhood from Alta Lake Road.

The Valley Trail project has $840,000 earmarked for it in 2019 (all Resort Municipality Initiative funding), and underground infrastructure will be installed prior to paving to allow for future light installations.

New bridges over Millar Creek and Sproatt Creek are also planned for the project.

The pedestrian path project will include about 150 metres of at-grade paving (in key areas at the intersection of Alpha Lake Road and Millar Creek Road), seven more streetlights, two new crosswalks, new signage and the relocation of two bus stops.

BC Transit's 10 Valley Connector pilot project will also continue through the spring, with a passenger feedback survey planned for mid-spring.

"It's Phase 1 of many ... from our perspective, we got some really good comments tonight," said project manager Tammy Shore at the open house.

Some of the comments from those in attendance focused on safety, the need for a raised-curb sidewalk rather than an at-grade path, and the fact that people sometimes park on the pedestrian path the RMOW created in Function last year.

Shore said the RMOW would be using signage and a greater bylaw presence to ensure the path remains open for pedestrians.

The project (which has $200,000 budgeted for it this year) only pertains to municipal roadways, Shore added—any storefront improvements on private property will have to be undertaken by the owners.

Those in attendance were generally appreciative of what they saw, though safety both in Function and Cheakamus was a common theme from the crowd.

For some, like Boehm, the at-grade pedestrian path doesn't go far enough.

While it's better than nothing, the current paved pedestrian path is often not plowed properly, he said, and cars often drift over the line.

Add in the Lil'wat Nation development underway at the entrance to Function (which includes plans for a gas station, as well as commercial and residential space), and the traffic pressures will only increase in the coming years, he added.

"It seems to me it is just extremely reactionary and not fore-thinking. We need to, as planners, be proactive about things instead of reacting to the problems," Boehm said.

"I understand there is budgetary constraints, but I've also seen the gross misspending that the municipality does on particular projects in the village.

"I feel we deserve a safe ... area to walk and ride our bikes down."

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