A lot of locals were disappointed two weeks ago when pay parking was introduced in the Telus Conference Centre underground, one of the last bastions of free parking in Whistler Village. No doubt that disappointment was compounded, and painfully, by the fact that rates also doubled to $2 an hour.
Is it too much to ask our local government to spread out the bad news a little instead of unloading it all at once? Jacking up my cost of living is not the same as peeling a bandaid from my hairy leg - sometimes it's better to move slowly.
While we've been warned for years to expect pay parking, you really have to wonder about the timing. Does it really make sense for the municipality to create a disincentive for people to shop in the village, at a time when other levels of government are taking on huge amounts of debt to stimulate consumer spending? Does it make any sense to double rates during a recession, when people are already struggling to make ends meet?
Why now, in a year when municipal property taxes have increased by eight per cent, when businesses are struggling to keep afloat, when locals are losing jobs, when our visitors are more cost-conscious than in the past, and when our tourism sector is working overtime to combat Whistler's reputation for being expensive?
Why do it in a summer when at least one of our still free-to-park day-lots will be out of commission for paving at any given time, creating more competition for the free spots that are still available?
And where, in this long gauntlet of sticks we're being asked to walk through, are all the carrots? Where are the free or discounted transit passes, the additional buses, the after-trip biking facilities, the secure bike racks, or any of the other perks that are supposed to go with pay parking to make it easier for people to swallow?
I'd be more willing to admit that cars and drivers are evil incarnate and that pay parking is next to cleanliness on the godliness scale if only there was some tangible benefit I could point to. Like a southbound bus stop on the highway at Spring Creek I've asked for again and again.
That's the way these things are supposed to work - you give something up to get something back. Carrots and sticks move the world.
But so far all I can see are the sticks. So many, many sticks.
Why, for example, is there a two-hour limit for pay parking that is in effect until 9 p.m.? That means you can't use a pay lot to go and see an early movie because your vehicle will be towed or ticketed by the time the closing credits are rolling.