News » Whistler

Walk Safe program 'definitely beneficial'

Reflectors in demand, transit to housing well used



For newcomers to Whistler, safety might not always be top of mind.

"I think a lot of people, they come thinking, 'I'm just going to have a great season, I'm going to work hard, I'm going to play hard,' that sort of thing," said Nicole Desjardins, housing manager with Whistler Blackcomb.

"A lot of them don't come thinking, 'How am I going to stay safe?'

That's where the Walk Safe committee comes in.

"It's nice that there's a community group out there who is thinking about that on a regular basis," Desjardins said.

It's hard to quantify just how successful the program has been, but anecdotally, at least, it's a winner.

The 5,000 reflectors handed out as part of the program are visible all over the resort and remain in high demand, Desjardins said.

"They're still coming in and asking for them, so there is a demand for it," she said.

"They want to be safe. They know that it's a dark environment."

Another new initiative brought in this year is the addition of free transit to staff housing during hours when the Excalibur Gondola isn't running.

"The groomers say that they're seeing less foot traffic up and down that hill, which is good," Desjardins said.

"I mean it's not hard, concrete numbers, but people seem to be riding the bus, or you see people at bus stops and they have their reflectors out."

Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said concrete stats are hard to sort out, but the program is "definitely beneficial" to the community.

"Anecdotally I can say that when I'm out driving in Whistler in the evening, I see people with the Walk Safe reflectors," LeClair said.

"They're very visible, as opposed to somebody who is not wearing one and wearing dark clothing. That person, you're on them almost before you see them... we encourage more people to take advantage of it and make use of the reflectors."

There has been one incident involving a pedestrian being hit on Highway 99 this season, though RCMP determined that the driver was not at fault.

That incident renewed calls for a safer pedestrian crossing on Highway 99 between Village Gate Boulevard and Lorimer Road.

"I was going to have a discussion with my staff about that," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"I know we have talked about this periodically, and I know the Ministry of Transportation doesn't necessarily want another traffic light there."

That stretch of highway is difficult, Wilhelm-Morden said, because there are already two sets of traffic lights within a relatively short distance.

"From time to time we have discussed with the ministry various changes we would like to Highway 99," Wilhelm-Morden said, citing the new pedestrian-activated traffic light at Alta Lake Road and Highway 99.

"But... there are some instances where it just doesn't make sense, whether we wish it to be there or not, so (the Ministry is the one that makes) that final decision."

Resort Municipality of Whistler staff will be looking at that stretch of highway to see if there's anything that can be done, Wilhelm-Morden said.