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Sea to Sky commuter gets March 30 reprieve



The Sea to Sky Commuter bus service between Squamish and Whistler has been extended until March 30. After that, council has made it clear that it's up to Squamish to decide whether it continues the service.

Mayor Ken Melamed, who was opposed to the motion, said that he heard complaints from Pemberton council, which funds 100 per cent of the commuter between the two municipalities, when Whistler splits the cost with Squamish.

He said that if the RMOW can't find a way to fund both services equally then they need to cancel the "unfair" service.

The decision to extend the service will cost the municipality $30,000.

The commuter service is currently being paid for out of a reserve fund that councillor Chris Quinlan said is "depleting." Staff said that the balance of the reserve fund is $1,310,500.

"I'm concerned going forward that we'll just be extending it to continue to extend it, whereas we have some issues to deal with in our community," Quinlan said.

He said that he supported the option to extend the service until March 30 only, at which point it will be up to Squamish to step up their game and decide what they want to do with the service.

The option to extend the service until March was just one of several options presented to council by the RMOW's traffic demand management coordinator Emma Dal Santo. The other options included making the bus a winter-only service, as it was when it began in 2005 ; offering the service only in the morning or only at night; or cutting the service entirely.

Dal Santo said that if council decided to axe the service, there would be a perceived savings of $208,000, when in actuality the savings would be between $60,000 and $133,000 because B.C. Transit recognizes the Sea to Sky as one complete region and would need to redistribute buses throughout the area.

"The service has been growing over the years because of the stability of it being there, so people are actually taking jobs at different times of the day because of the bus schedule," Dal Santo said. "It does change when people know that the service is there and they change their habits when they know that the service isn't there."


Free Monday cross-country skiing axed

Shed a tear, folks. Council voted to axe free Lost Lake cross-country skiing on Monday nights.

They opted instead to provide $20 all-inclusive ski passes instead, which includes rentals and the ski pass. The pass is now $5 for skiers with their own gear.

A staff report to council indicated that the RMOW has experienced a loss of revenue by providing free skiing on Monday nights over the last four years. There has also been a challenge to service all the guests and the new Monday night fees will help to pay for adequate staff throughout the season.

Council passed the motion unanimously with several of them saying that $20 for ski pass and rentals is still a very good deal.

"Talk about champagne trails. There's nothing like getting out there when you have the fresh groomers and you're skating or you're skiing. It's priceless. It's absolutely priceless, and the best buy in all of Whistler," said Councillor Tom Thomson.

No pedestrian crosswalk on Highway 99

The B.C. government will not pay for a crosswalk on Highway 99 at Alta Lake Rd.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure stated in a letter that they would not support the crosswalk because it didn't meet the warrants of one. The letter was written by RMOW staff in response to a June 15 council recommendation that staff look into the issue.

Now it's up to the RMOW if they wish to increase safety at Alta Lake Rd. and Highway 99. The options presented to council by staff were to spend $2.7 million on a pedestrian overpass, similar to what's available at Nordic over the highway, or to install an intersection with a pedestrian signal at a cost of $300,000.

Council made no direction to staff to look into the matter further.