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Pay parking performance not what was expected



OK, they'll admit it. Pay parking isn't working like they hoped.

Bob MacPherson, general manager of community life, said the municipality is seeing only 50 per cent of the revenue that had been projected for 2010.

"It's not the end of the world," he said. "This is hundreds of thousands in revenue the municipality did not see last year."

The RMOW is pulling in $90,000 per month in new revenue from the day lots. Through this new revenue stream, operating costs for the lots are covered and the RMOW is able to partially repay capital reserves.

However, the original intention for the parking lots was to support community transport, but there simply isn't enough money to make that happen.

MacPherson presented a slide show from Oct. 2, a beautiful Saturday afternoon when the village was packed. In the pictures, lot 1 was "well utilized." Lot 2 was "moderately utilized" with some of the spaces filled but majority were empty. Virtually no one was parked in lot 3, save for a couple of cars scattered throughout. Lot 4, which is free, was unsurprisingly jammed packed. The picture showed one car, a BMW SUV, was parked illegally to save $12 on parking.

MacPherson admitted that the municipality has brought these conditions on themselves, where one product (lots 1 through 3) is "placed too high" and the other (lots 4 and 5) is "priced too low," alluding to the fact that they may need to balance the pricing out in the future but stopping short of suggesting council add pay parking to the free lots.

"It's a matter of walking the extra minute and a half," he said. "People are very, very willing to do that."

Another problem, he said, is that the municipality hasn't done an effective job at explaining to customers the seasonal price structure. He noted that it's up to the municipality to fix all these problems, as it will not self-correct at the consumer level. For example, locals will always know where to park for free and they will, if asked by visitors, let them know where there's a better value.

"We're doing this to ourselves a little bit with the Whistler Olympic Plaza. I can see a day in the future when we have a very well balanced village with a strong attraction at the mountain end and events happening at Olympic Plaza, where this end of the village stops being so much of a back of house and really becomes a significant part of the attraction here," he said. "Putting free parking across the street from that is, um, interesting."

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