A comprehensive study of Whistler’s transportation needs and problems will cost $375,000, but councillors are convinced it will be money well spent. Whistler resort planning firm Ecosign and Reid Crowther, a Vancouver consulting engineering firm, were unanimously chosen by the Transportation Advisory Group to conduct the study, despite the cost. "This kind of planning is the basis for potential expenditures of hundreds of millions of dollars," Councillor Hugh O’Reilly said. "Everyone was surprised at the cost of the proposals," Councillor Max Kirkpatrick agreed. "But I was very impressed with what we saw. I don’t think we have the luxury of time to delay." The 1996 budget for the project is comprised of $100,000 the municipality has set aside for the study and a $30,000 grant from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Ecosign President Paul Mathews told council he was proposing an extensive, landmark study of transportation in the valley. "We’ve done these in Europe, but Whistler has become so successful we’re moving into new territory," Mathews said. He noted there may only be five resorts in the world that handle the level of skier visits Whistler now gets. "We got to 33,000 beds and 1.4 million skier visits fairly smoothly," Mathews added, "but traffic is now beginning to affect our lives." Mathews noted the village has now expanded beyond walking distance to the lifts and the profile of the village is changing, with so many public beds on the Benchlands and in Village North. The Comprehensive Transportation Strategy, as it is officially titled, will integrate both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains’ master plans with the community master plan for the first time. Mathews promised to look at new transportation technologies and study new portals; where they may be and when they may be needed. "The key is to understand the motivation for movements," Mathews said. "We’ll be building some fairly sophisticated models. "Ideally we wish to reduce the demands on standard transportation methods and we will try not to use typical engineered solutions. "My goal is less hassle than we have at the moment." The study will not be completed until January 1998. It is intended to be a very public process, with an initial public workshop scheduled for this fall’s Town Hall meeting. "I hear you incorporating ideas and a though process similar to the vision that created the village in 1975," Mayor Ted Nebbeling told Mathews. "I feel very comfortable with the proposal."