Well, now we know why they're called parking lots - because there's Lots of Parking. At least in Whistler. And this particular schadenfreude, which looks so awesome on those who pushed user-pay, is now without a doubt the biggest embarrassment ever witnessed in a ski town - especially one looking to change a reputation of rampant gouging, nickel-and-diming, and just general poor value. That's right folks, those #1 ratings we receive from fawning snowsport magazines trying to sustain ad revenue are built on the back of things that town administrators and business folk have virtually no control over: amount and variety of terrain, snow and the party ethic that evolves when a small city's worth of people meet a hundred bars and restaurants. We are far down the scale on most things we do have control over.
But back to the Mexican parking standoff. Clearly I'm not alone when I say I'll never pay, no matter how far I have to walk. In fact, as a full-time homeowner, taxpayer, Whistler Tourism fleecee and resident of the Worst Strata on the Planet, I shouldn't have to pay for anything else. Furthermore, if I were a tourist who bought a season's pass I'd expect a parking voucher to accompany it. The huge (and lame) explanation on a certain website about how pay parking is part of Whistler's sustainability strategy is just pissing in the wind.
Let's be honest: if you subtract the relatively small number who arrive otherwise, people are required to drive here to spend money. There's no bargain public transit option; all operations are inconvenient and flawed. But let's, for a second, pretend we need user-pay parking: if visitors weren't being dinged right, left and centre and the rate was a reasonable and temporary rate, those lots would have been full from the start. And maybe there'd be no budget shortfall. But no. It had to look like an ass-covering tax on a tax.
But though chatter on the ground over the Lots of Parking joke was legion, no one wanted to boldly state the obvious: that for every extra dollar a tourist or local had to pay in parking, a certain corresponding amount (ratio unknown) was not spent in local businesses. It's no secret people are showing their outrage by voting with their absence, but why was no one addressing this? So I was super excited when a public conversation about the debacle broke out on Facebook:
-Just made $5 off pay parking, which means the RMOW is now negative $5 in parking revenue for the season. Bwaahaaa!
- How do you make $ off pay parking?
- It wouldn't take my card when I went to pay so I cancelled the transaction and it gave me $8 in change... used 3 to pay for parking = $5 up!
This revelation lit up the Facebookosphere.
- Similar situation occurred to me at Conference Centre parking; wouldn't take my change, and it gave me a couple bucks back. Stick it to the man! and their budget shortfall.
So folks actually did have something nice to say about Lots of Parking! I chimed in and said I was entertaining ideas about what, creatively, we could do with these revenue-negative White Elephants. The ideas that flowed forth (in seconds) were entertaining indeed.
As in skidding cars around snowy pavement. I had to point out this was already taking place. Bigtime. I'd even had a couple sessions myself.
- We could get one of those cheesy circuses to set up. Ferris wheel anyone?
- Cryogenic staff housing? i.e., cold storage for Aussies. Either that or free ice-skating. Just divert [Fitzsimmons Creek] a few hundred metres - they even cut a neat little channel in that would work perfectly. But we all know the true & proper answer that would also solve the budget shortfall, don't we? Hydro. Ponics.
- Speaking of flooding, a friend suggested that they should host the World Pond Hockey Championships...
- How about we get the NHL to hold their next Winter Classic [there], that way the RMOW could make up the shortfall.
- Asphalt plant? Or better, asphalt dealership? They don't even need to produce it, just sell off what's already there... it will be like buying seats from Maple Leaf Gardens... "Take home a piece of 2010 with official Olympic Parking Spaces."
- We could set up the asphalt dealership before the grow-op. Then we can go for organic status. Want to present the idea at Council?
- I sense a multi-use proposal in the works. Do we need to apply for rezoning? Oh, right, don't need to if it's ultimately for ASPHALT. Bwahahahahahah.
- Whistler could use a tire fire. Like the one in Springfield.
- Snowplowing Championships. After intense competitions on [lots] 1, 2 and 3, the winner can finally get around to 4 and 5...
People were talking about this FB post at the town hall gathering at Spruce Grove last night. There's already a captive audience waiting for this article.
What? Already talking about it? Too much pressure!