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white gold roads

The municipality’s official transportation plans for White Gold and the new Spruce Grove subdivision don’t sit well with most residents of the area. Approximately 45 people turned out for Monday’s information session, where municipal staff outlined the plan to eventually close the existing bridge on Nancy Greene Drive and build a new bridge a few hundred metres to the north. The new bridge, which is not scheduled to be built for at least five years, would connect Blackcomb Way with the south end of Spruce Grove and the north end of Fitzsimmons Road North. Most White Gold residents opposed the plan because it would mean all White Gold traffic has to go past the houses on Fitzsimmons Road North. Some of the future residents of Spruce Grove oppose the plan because it will make Spruce Grove a main thoroughfare. "I think it’s a mistake to make the main Spruce Grove road an artery," White Gold resident Scott Carrell said. Others pointed out that with the small lots and mandatory suites in some houses in Spruce Grove, it will be one of the densest subdivisions in Whistler — with skier traffic likely to be driving right through. "A bridge is going to have to be built," Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said, noting the current, temporary bridge on Nancy Greene Drive does not meet the Ministry of Environment’s requirements to withstand a 200-year flood. "Why build a new bridge where no one wants it?" was the response from one person. O’Reilly responded that the road and bridge alignment must meet the municipality’s overall transportation plan, which means including both subdivisions on a future bus route. "Then why didn’t you open the Blueberry gate? Do they have more money than us?" someone shouted. O’Reilly pointed out that the Blueberry gate is open to transit and that the decision to keep the Blueberry gate may not have been correct. It was then suggested that a gate similar to the one at the north end of Blueberry Hill, which can be opened by municipal transit buses and emergency vehicles, be put in at the Spruce Grove/White Gold border and that a bridge be maintained on Nancy Greene Drive. John Nelson, director of public works for the municipality, said that in order to build a new bridge on Nancy Greene Drive that meets the MoE standards it would have to be substantially higher than the present temporary bridge. Nelson added that the abutments at either end of the bridge would also have to be raised, "which doesn’t work for floodproofing." The higher abutments and ramps leading up to the bridge would back up water in the event of a 200 year flood, which could take the whole bridge out and/or cause flooding in White Gold. The proposed bridge location, downstream, has a wider, flatter area where flood waters could run free. While many don’t like the municipality’s proposed plan, not all were against it. Some people who have bought property in Spruce Grove felt they should be able to get to the village along Blackcomb Way, without having to get on the highway. However, other future Spruce Grove residents said they would prefer to use the highway, rather than have a thoroughfare through their subdivision. Paving of the Spruce Grove main road was expected to be finished Thursday (June 11). The municipality’s agreement with the developers, Greenside Properties, was that the gate at the south end of Spruce Grove would remain closed until construction is completed. Nelson said it will be another two months before infrastructure works are completed in Spruce Grove and the gate opened. Council made no commitment regarding what will happen with the gate when construction is completed. Similarlily, they made no decision on the final road and bridge alignment for the area.

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