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Residents and businesses speak out against pay parking

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

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The parking lots are managed by the Parking Lot Operating Committee, which includes two senior staff members from the RMOW and two senior staff members from Whistler Blackcomb. It is responsible for decisions about the Day Lots' management, including parking rates, hours, budget, and maintenance.

Bill Barratt, the RMOW chief administrative officer, said negotiations to transfer control of the lots away from the province began after government representatives revealed the pay-parking plan.

Jan Jansen, the RMOW general manager of resort experience, outlined three main goals guiding the new strategy.

The plan was designed to change behavior, improve the visitor experience and demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

More than $11 million has been spent by the RMOW to upgrade the lots and to build the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier - a responsibility that the RMOW assumed in exchange for ownership of the lots.

"That is money spent and money that needs to get back into the reserves of the municipality," said Jansen.

Lot 5 will be paved in the fall he said.

Since the implementation of pay parking the average revenue has been $78,000 a month and the lots are projected to bring in $1.375 million in 2011. Jansen said $2 million a year is needed to cover all the financial commitments attached to the lots. From July 2010 to last month, however, projected revenue was at 50 per cent of what was expected. The original projections were made pre-economic meltdown.

"The numbers of vehicles we're seeing in the day lots really hasn't changed since the introduction of pay parking," said Jansen.

The parking pattern has shifted since pay parking was first implemented in July 2010, he said, with employees filling up many of the free spots in Lots 4 and 5 early in the day. Visitors, who generally arrive later, are making use of the spots in Lots 1, 2 and 3.

The desired change in behavior, Jansen said, is to increase the use of transit, bikes, trails and shuttles to get around Whistler. It's estimated that 49 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Whistler come from passenger vehicles.

"We sell the environment here," said Forseth. "Efforts to continue to keep it as it is are important."

Forseth called the parking plan a living plan and Barratt said this new model needs a full year of monitoring and evaluation.