Whistler Blackcomb will unveil proposed updates to its master plans for Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains at an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
Senior staffers from the company and representatives from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will be on hand to answer questions about the proposed changes to the plan, which was last updated for 2011.
The master plans provide a 60-year vision for both Whistler and Blackcomb tenures, and master plan amendments often reveal future Whistler Blackcomb plans for lift development and expansion. For example, the ongoing project to move the Harmony Express Chair to the Crystal Zone on Blackcomb was first brought forward at the last update.
One faction, which will be interested to see the updates to the Master Plan, is opposed to paving an area of the Dave Murray Downhill that was removed from the run and flattened to create a finish-line staging area for the 2010 Olympics. People living in the area discovered that the area had been identified on the master plan for Whistler Mountain as a potential parking lot with space for approximately 175 cars.
There was also an effort to use the area as overflow parking for Creekside until residents spoke out.
As well as increasing traffic to the area, the campaign — Stop the Paving of the Dave Murray Downhill — was opposed to permanently narrowing the ski run in any way, pointing to original statements by the resort that the run would be restored after the Games. According to opponents, the new alignment takes away from the ski experience on one of the resort's most iconic runs while also creating a crowding and safety issue for skiers and snowboarders.
The petition has so far collected over 1,100 signatures.
Philip Langridge, who is overseeing the petition, said he's continued to work on the issue over the summer and spoke to a senior staff member to discuss the future of the lot. He was told that the lot would only be used a handful of days a year when the resort was at its busiest.
"Then why do it?" asked Langridge. "We bussed from Squamish during the Olympics. Those five or six days, (Whistler Blackcomb) could easily bus skiers from Function Junction."
Langridge expressed concerns that paving the lot would only be the beginning of development on the site. Neighbours are concerned that lights, washrooms, ticket booths and other facilities could follow.
Whistler Blackcomb disputed some of the facts put forward by the petitioners this week.
Doug Forseth, VP of planning, government relations and special projects for Whistler Blackcomb said that Phillip Langridge, who is spearheading the petition, never contacted senior management at Whistler Blackcomb to seek any information.