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Residents and businesses speak out against pay parking

Day skier lots 4 and 5 will be metered come June 1



The much-anticipated strategy for the day skier lots has been unveiled, launching the next chapter in Whistler's struggle with parking issues.

And the reception so far has not been warm to making pay parking in the norm in Lots 1 through 5.

"This is brutal on business, on locals and on guests," Sandy Black of Affinity Sports wrote in an e-mail to Pique .

"This Mayor and council have really ignored the wishes of this community. Because of the out of control spending at RMOW they need this revenue source, and simply are not prepared to give it up."

Black predicted resort guests will fill the 2,800 free parking stalls at Creekside and in Lots 6, 7 and 8 before paying to park near the village.

Russell Long of Katmandu said he was choked when he heard of the new fee structure.

"It is another form of taxation for the local people," he said. "You have to pay to work in this town now."

Brenton Smith, the general manager of O and R Entertainment which operates La Bocca Restaurant & Bar, La Brasserie des Artistes, Hot Buns Bakery, Amsterdam Pub, and Maxx Fish Lounge & Bar, said he believes the businesses he manages were impacted when pay parking was brought to Lots 1 through 3 and he is worried some of his Vancouver customers will stop coming to Whistler once pay parking hits Lots 4 and 5.

"I suspect that rather than people get pushed out to the Creekside, as they did in the winter, people may not come," said Smith.

He said he was happy, however, to learn that residents would be able to purchase parking passes.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) released the new parking strategy through a four-page Whistler Way advertising insert in the local newspapers on the same day the RMOW hosted a media briefing.

As of June 1, free parking will be available in day skier Lots 4 and 5 from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. only. At all other times fees will be charged similar to Lots 1 to 3, and payment options will range from hourly, daily, evening, overnight, monthly and - for locals only - three- and six-month passes.

Doug Forseth, the Whistler Blackcomb senior vice-preisdent of operations, said during the media briefing that when the provincial government had control of the lots the province planned to contract Impark to set up pay parking and put the revenues back into provincial coffers.

"We were very concerned about that solution because we had no control," said Forseth. "We had no control over the rates, we had no control over the quality of the service and the quality of the experience. It just didn't seem to us like a fathomable solution so we wanted to avoid that at all costs."