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Village ice rink idea remains alive

Tom Thomson calls ice rink the "cherry on the cake" for Whistler Olympic Plaza



Councillor Tom Thomson said it would be the "cherry on the cake" to have a seasonal ice rink in the heart of Whistler.

That's why he asked municipal staff to look at the possibility of annually installing a temporary ice sheet under the new pavilion in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

It's an idea that was top of Whistler's wish list leading up to the 2010 Games before the financial reality made it an impossibility in the short-term.

"Because we've shelved something doesn't mean that it's dead and cannot be brought back and resurrected and put into our quiver of wonderful event arrows," said Thomson this week.

"Ice and Whistler have long been one in common."

The pavilion, said Thomson, is a multi-purpose building and he envisions the seats being removed and a temporary ice sheet laid on the flat floor.

He sees the funding coming from provincial grant money through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program. This year Whistler received $7.5 million in that program, which is to be spent on tourism related projects. Staff is investigating his request.


Parking consultant hired after council approval


David Hill, of MMM Group, has been hired to help solve Whistler's parking woes.

Council vetted the choice of consultant after a contentious debate at its last public meeting.

Still, there are concerns.

Councillors Grant Lamont and Ted Milner said this week that hiring an outside consultant is the wrong move.

"I think the solution comes from within," said Lamont. "We've got to stop looking outside."

Milner echoed the sentiment: "They're going to borrow our pocket watches to tell us the time; that is my concern."

Council had to choose between two proposals and the majority selected Hill via email.
The MMM Group website said it is an industry-leading Canadian program management, planning, engineering and geomatics firm.

Specifically in the realm of parking demand studies, of which MMM has done hundreds for both public and private sector clients, it states:

"These types of studies are becoming increasingly important as municipalities seek to ensure sufficient on or off-site parking is provided without providing an over-supply that might support automobile use at the expense of efforts to encourage an increase in transit use, walking and cycling."

Last month Milner instigated a second look at the pay parking strategy, which was set to come into effect June 1 with no more free parking in the day lots and a daily rate of $13.50.

The strategy has been the subject of widespread furor throughout Whistler.

Lamont expressed his concern that the consultant isn't in tune with the unique challenges of resort communities like Whistler and its specific needs.

The municipality has budgeted $25,000 for the consultant, money that will come from the parking operations budget.

With Hill now chosen, an aggressive community consultation process will be set in motion.

On Tuesday July 5 there will be a pay-parking workshop with council and community stakeholders such as Tourism Whistler and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. The workshop will be held at Millennium Place from 1 to 4 p.m.

From July 6 to 18 the Parking Lot Operations Committee and the consultant will review input from the workshop, model options for how to structure parking rates and release an online survey. On July 19 there will be a second workshop.

Ultimately staff hopes to have council's endorsement of parking rates at the September 6 council meeting.




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