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transportation study

Transportation plan on display Dec. 12 The long-awaited draft Whistler transportation strategy focuses on transportation demand management and away from roads as the solution to all Whistler’s transportation problems. "We’re trying to change people’s travel habits," said Bill Murray, chair of the Transportation Advisory Group. "All the key players are generally supportive of the plan," Murray said. Work on a comprehensive transportation strategy began more than two and a half years ago. Representatives of Whistler council, Whistler-Blackcomb, the Ministry of Highways and BC Transit have had input into the strategy. Murray said the plan keeps a number of options for future roads open by protecting road rights of way, but the emphasis is on transportation demand management. A series of incentives and dis-incentives, to reduce reliance on the automobile and make public transit, car pooling, bicycles and other means of transport more attractive, are built into the plan. "It may mean things like reducing transit fares, implementing pay parking and creating high occupancy vehicle lanes," Murray said. He admitted there has been some resistance to the demand management strategy from engineers, but all TAG members were in agreement that such a strategy has never been given a full opportunity to succeed. "It’s a little bit controversial, a bit leading-edge thinking," Murray said. "What we’re hoping to avoid is a four-lane, multi-stoplight road through the centre of the valley." He said the Ministry of Highways has some concerns about the transportation strategy and Whistler council hasn’t approved the plan yet, but all TAG members generally support the overall concept. "Hopefully people will view it in its entirety," Murray said, rather than criticize or demand changes to individual components of the plan. He said some adjustments may be necessary if council doesn’t support particular aspects of the plan. Murray gave the example of council’s decision to install a gate between the White Gold and Spruce Grove subdivisions as something that went against the transportation strategy recommendations. The plan concentrates on transportation issues within Whistler because that is what Whistler can affect, Murray said. "There are some references to (transportation in) the corridor, but those decisions are mostly beyond our means," Murray said. Copies of the summary report are now available from municipal hall. A copy of the full report is also available for review at municipal hall. A public meeting on the comprehensive transportation strategy will be held Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Delta Whistler Resort, starting at 3 p.m. Murray said the time and place were chosen to give skiers an opportunity to drop in after their day on the mountain. Representatives of TAG, municipal support staff and consultants Ecosign and Reid-Crowther will be on hand for the meeting. There will be a number of displays and a presentation will take place between 4 and 5 p.m. A question period will follow. Murray said that if the transportation strategy is accepted some parts of the plan could be implemented almost immediately.