News » Whistler

Parking changes cause concern

Strata owners upset with bus parking along Blackcomb Way



With changes to parking in the resort — including pay parking in lots 4 and 5 — going into effect on July 1, things are working well from a Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) perspective at least.

"We're seeing a really quite astonishing use of the free transit on the weekends, which is terrific," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"It seems to be working the way we had hoped. There's more parking availability as well, in day lots 4 and 5, so it's accomplishing a lot of the goals that we were hoping to meet."

But judging from comments on social media and a multitude of letters to council, not everyone is pleased with the changes.

In the most recent council package, parking letters ranged from concerns around towing from pay lots, campers being pushed to the outskirts of town and buses now being allowed to park along Blackcomb Way.

Five different owners from the Montebello strata on Blackcomb Way wrote to council to voice their displeasure with their new next-door neighbours.

Residents are upset that the previous "no parking" signs along the street have been replaced with signs allowing bus parking — originally at any time day or night, but changed recently to allow bus parking between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

"The major concerns are obviously that all of a sudden a commercial bus park has effectively appeared right outside our window," said Montebello strata council chair Tim Lovell.

The buses kick up dust, produce exhaust from idling engines and block the views of owners along the street, Lovell said.

"What we'd like to see happen is commercial vehicles to be parked in the proper commercial vehicle lot," he said, suggesting the municipal bus compound might make a suitable alternative.

"I don't know whether that's practical, and really I think we're a reasonable and understanding group of homeowners, but this has got significant impact," he said.

"Already, three weeks of the summer has gone by where peoples' gardens are just not what they were intended to be: a place of rest and tranquility."

Asked about the Montebello strata, Wilhelm-Morden said the RMOW is encouraging buses to park in Lot 6 this summer.

"The shorter sprinter vans and passenger vans, they can be parked in the RV and oversized parking area of Lot 3," she said.

"We did have quite a bit of public consultation with over 500 residents attending meetings, (and) 5,000 survey responses collected."

That said, given the number of letter writers from Montebello, the issue may be worth another look, the mayor added.

"Certainly we'll refer them over to staff and to the Transportation Advisory Group and see if there's an issue to be revisited," she said.

Asked about the issue at the July 18 council meeting, Wilhelm-Morden said RMOW staff is considering alternative solutions for bus parking.

"It's not going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen in the near future," she said.

As for people wanting to camp in parking lots, the RMOW won't be bending over backwards to accommodate them anytime soon.

Those wishing to camp should do so in designated campsites, Wilhelm-Morden said.

"Camping simply isn't permitted on Whistler's roads or in the parking lots, and the day lots are not a safe place to camp," she said.

"There (are) potential risks due to garbage, there's no bathrooms, there could be wildlife attractants, so we really do encourage the people who come here who wish to camp to be camping in the areas in which it's allowed."

But what of those people who will simply choose to camp illegally in the backcountry?

"To the extent that it's on land within the municipality, we've got bylaw enforcement available to ticket these people and ask them to move along," the mayor said.

"If it's outside of our boundaries then it's the provincial ministry of forests (jurisdiction), it's up to them to take the steps necessary."

While there are clearly some lingering questions around changes to parking in Whistler, the project was always considered to be a work in progress.

"We've got pay parking in day lots 4 and 5 just for July and August, so the feedback we get will be taken into consideration when we reinstate it in December," Wilhelm-Morden said.