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Whistler neighbourhood calls for parking restrictions

RMOW looking at options, but won't give timeline for expected changes

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Residents of Alpine Meadow's Mountainview Drive say they don't want this summer to be like the last and are looking to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to implement measures to stop illegal parking on their street before hiking- and mountain-biking season kicks into high gear—but it's unclear if they will see changes anytime soon.

As reported by Pique last year ("Some Mountainview Drive residents upset over illegal parking," Sept. 30, 2018), Mountainview Drive has seen a significant increase in cars parking on the street thanks to the RMOW's alpine trail network, a vast offering of alpine trails that opened in summer 2017. One of the entrances to the trails is at the far end of the cul-de-sac at the sumit of Mountainview Drive.

Neighbourhood residents said it is now common to find hikers and bikers parked on both sides of Mountainview Drive (in contravention of Whistler bylaws) on busy days. Neighbours spoke out last year after the RMOW installed a porta-potty at the end of the cul-de-sac. (It is unclear whether or not the municipality will be bringing it back this summer.)

Mountainview resident Janet Hart is calling for the trailhead to be closed altogether, adding that the principal concern of residents is fire safety.

"If there is a fire at the end of our cul-de-sac" and people are parked on both sides of the street, then "how does somebody get up there?" asked Hart.

Residents are looking for some immediate measures to alleviate the problems, she said, explaining that residents would like the RMOW to replicate the "Lost Lake solution."

The area surrounding the popular lake had significant issues with illegal parking until the RMOW instituted a number of measures, including establishing tow-away zones, installing better signage, and ramping up enforcement, said Hart.

"I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel," she said. "We think this would be a pretty simple (approach)."

Hart is not the designated spokesperson for the residents and added that some want Mountainview Drive to move to residents-only parking.

Last month, a group of about 25 people from the neighbourhood met with RMOW staff, said Hart, adding that she understands that the RMOW needs to be strategic.

"In fairness to the muni, they have a lot of balls in the air, and I know they have to (take) an integrated approach," she said. "I understand where they are coming from—as do our neighbours."

That said, the neighbours feel that signage is "a pretty simple solution" to implement quickly, said Hart.

Backcountry access is an issue across the corridor, said Mayor Jack Crompton, adding he is interested in "long-term coordinated solutions."

"Staff are taking all issues raised into serious consideration, including moving the trailhead and whether to have portable washrooms on site. Staff will be reporting back in the coming weeks," he said.

Crompton did not give a definitive timeline for when any measures could be expected, saying that it is important to look at the system as a whole.

"I think the most important piece of this is our Recreation Trails Strategy," he said, of the forthcoming RMOW project that will establish policies to address management and access issues related to the alpine trail network. "We want long-term sustainable solutions for these challenges. I am not in favour of reactionary planning."

According to the RMOW, the Recreation Trails Strategy is expected to be launched later this year and the project is expected to take a year to complete.

RMOW staff has a wealth of experience to draw from when it comes to responding to parking issues, added Crompton. "There is a tremendous amount to learn from both our successes and the times when we haven't got it perfectly right," he said.

When Pique first wrote about the Mountainview issues, then-mayor, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, suggested that a proposed new parking lot—to be located under the BC Hydro transmission lines, between Stonebridge Drive and Nita Lake Drive, and accessed by Alta Lake Road—could help alleviate the Mountainview Drive issues

That new parking lot was targeted for construction this summer. But according to RMOW staff, the project is now on hold and there is no timeline for advancing it.

Crompton believes the parking lot would likely make little difference in terms of alleviating the Mountainview Drive issues. "The Skywalk Trail access and the Westside Trail access are two totally different locations," he said.

In Hart's view, solutions are needed quickly, and residents are in the right to demand them.

"We are not just fighting for our own neighbourhood; we are fighting for the integrity of (all) neighbourhoods around Whistler," she said.

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