A deal between land developers and the municipality is coming to fruition as a construction crew works to complete a new section of Valley Trail.
Paid for by the developers, the new trail will soon connect the south end of Whistler to the west and north and vice versa without going the long way around Alta lake.
"It provides a major link for us to get to the west side, something weve wanted for a long time now," says Keith Bennett, manager of parks operations for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
The trail will run from where the existing trail meets the railroad tracks, just north of Nita Lake, to Alta Lake Road.
Previously the only way to get to Rainbow Lake and the north side from the south was to either go further south to Alta Lake Road in Tamarisk, or head north as far as the Whistler Golf Course. The third, and much shorter, option was to take the train tracks, which is both dangerous and illegal.
"This link is good for both the municipality and developers," says Bennett. "In a lot of cases companies like Intrawest have recognized the value of being able to market real estate thats right beside the Valley Trail because its such a great amenity, and Duane (Jackson, the real estate developer) has been great with his work on trails.
"The municipality has been looking for ways to work with B.C. Rail to get this link included, as well as some other links weve been looking for, but when Duane took the project over he took on the responsibility. Now it should open sometime this year."
A development company owned by Duane Jackson and Bill Kunzweiler is currently developing an area commonly known as the B.C. Rail Lands on the west side of Alta Lake Road. Roads are currently being built into the area and water, power and sewer services will be brought to the area. There are plans to develop as many as 30 lots in the area, each one sitting on several acres of land, although planning is still underway and it will be years before the building begins.
The municipality is also looking into extending the Valley Trail into Function Junction, and has discussed the issue with B.C. Rail. Private developers may agree to build that link in the future, but if not Bennett says the municipality will likely take on the responsibility.