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Pay parking in all day lots to come in a month's time

Parking rates could bring in $1 million in revenue, leaving big municipal shortfall

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It will be marginally cheaper than once proposed but village commuters will have to deep dig into their pockets to find hundreds of dollars each year to park in the day lots.

At the same time, the municipality will have to dig even deeper to balance next year's budget which is hundreds of thousands of dollars short in revenue from the parking program. That may mean increased taxes, cuts to spending in operations or cuts to capital upgrades or a combination of all the three.

This follows Council's decision, made at Tuesday's meeting, to adopt the recommendations in a consultant's report done over the last few months at the behest of council. And so the days of "free" parking in the village are numbered.

Paul Sparrow of Surrey said this a direct hit for people in the regional market.

"This is a nail in the head for all the people in the Lower Mainland," he said, adding that it was the Lower Mainland and the regional market that kept Whistler running through its international visitor woes.

He has committed to buying a season's pass this year. But with high gas prices, the cost of a ski pass and now parking prices, he will be thinking about snowboarding closer to home or in the Interior in the years to come.

The new rates will see a six-month pass cost $180, working out to less a $1 a day to park. Without one of the various passes, the hourly rates will be $2 year round, topping out at a daily rate of $8, or $4 after 4 p.m.

"It's astounding that they paid a consultant to come up with $8 per day, summer and winter, all lots," said Affinity Sports owner Sandy Black.

"It's not a solution. They've not solved the problem."

Summer and winter, he added, need to be treated differently because in the winter there is still free parking at Lots 6, 7, and 8 and at Creekside to access the mountains. Black predicts because of that the day lots will be empty again this winter.

"Will everyone be happy?" asked Whistler Blackcomb's Doug Forseth, one of the four members of the Parking Lot Operating Committee. "No. But I think it's time to move on."

The decision marks the culmination of a summer spent trying to wrestle the controversial parking issue to the ground, including spending roughly $25,000 on consultants to survey the community and come up with recommendations when council balked at the proposed rates in June.

Not much has changed rate-wise but there has now been extensive community consultation, and it is hoped, more community buy-in.

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