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RMOW resolving Alta Lake access issues

The RMOW has negotiated a solution with four tour operators that currently use the Alta Lake public boat launch site on Carlton Way, restricting commercial use of the area for certain times, and phasing out use of the launch for 2005.

In addition, they have agreements with the commercial operators to fund restoration projects along the River of Golden Dreams through a passenger fee, as well as to close the river periodically for safety and environmental reasons.

The use of the waterway will be regulated through concession license agreements, a business regulation bylaw, and a moratorium on new business licenses for companies that want to use the River for canoe and kayak tours. The moratorium will be in effect until a carrying capacity study is completed this summer.

Last year the four companies offering commercial tours, Whistler Outdoor Experience, Whistler Eco Tours, Wild Willies, and Whistler Backroads, made 10,936 boat trips down the river.

The proposed solution was tabled by Keith Bennett, manager of parks operations for the municipality at the last Council meeting, June 16, and approved by council with a few amendments.

Complaints from residents in the Alta Vista area, as well as concerns from local environmental groups and the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, prompted the municipality to evaluate ways to mitigate any impact on the community of River of Golden Dreams waterway, which connects Alta Lake to Rainbow Lake.

Some of the elements of the proposal include:

  • Distributing put-in locations over a number of public areas at different times of day. The put-ins will be at Rainbow Park, Wayside Park, Lakeside Park and Carlton Way.
  • Limiting capacity in 2003 to the same usage as last year, with a moratorium on new businesses.
  • Create a fixed annual licensing fee and habitat enhancement fee for commercial operators, with money going directly towards habitat maintenance and enhancement. The habitat enhancement fee is based on usage – a fee of $0.50 per customer will be charged in 2003, going up to $1.00 next year.
  • Whistler Outdoor Experience will use Lakeside Park for all of its launches. Whistler Eco Tours will use Wayside Park and the Carlton Way public access. Whistler Backroads will use Lakeside Park and the Carlton Way public access. Wild Willies Ski Club will use Rainbow Park exclusively. Carlton Way will be available for licensed operations from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. daily.
  • A digital camera will be used to monitor the river, recording the time and date and the number of boats in the water for billing purposes, as well as to monitor closures.

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