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Sea to Sky Highway upgrade scaled down



But businesses still concerned about impacts form closures

The Sea to Sky highway will not be re-built to a four-lane freeway all the way to Whistler.

Rather, it is likely to be a combination of two, three, and four lane sections from Horseshoe Bay, with an estimated cost of $580 million.

But even this latest plan, which changes almost weekly, includes lengthy closures and delays which visitors, residents and businesses will have to cope with.

"If they are talking hours of delays in the middle of the day it will kills us," said Peter Lostale, one of the owners of the Pemberton Transport Company, which is the most-used refrigerated trucking service in the corridor.

Currently there are 87 closures of four hours each planned during the four years of construction. Other longer closures would occur at night and there would be scores of 20-minute delays, according to The Province newspaper.

Lostale is particularly concerned about perishable food such as ice cream, fish and produce.

"Of course we pack (ice-cream) in freezer boxes and with dry ice," he said.

"But in the heat, if the truck is stuck on the highway with the sun beating down on the truck the refrigeration system can only do so much work."

Delays for Lostale could mean trouble for his customers.

"What is going to happen is that the stores won’t have any fresh produce in the morning, they are going to get in the afternoon and the consumers are going to have to learn to buy product in the afternoon," he said.

"And most of the restaurants don’t have the facilities to keep products for days so they get it fresh everyday.

"Customers up in Whistler tend to want the best. They don’t mind spending money but they want what they paid for.

"So what happens if a restaurant opens at four o’clock and we can’t get, say, the fresh bread to them because we are delayed. That is really going to hurt their business."

But for Rolf Gunther, co-owner of the RimRock, the concern is not getting fresh supplies it is bad publicity about the highway.

"It may deter some people from coming," he said

Bruce Stewart, manager of Nesters Market and Pharmacy said the latest details bring some relief and it appears as if the closures will not be as severe as originally outlined.

Just a couple of months ago the government was proposing closing the highway for four hours each day and eight ours each night for four days a week, nine months a year for four to six years.

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