Most of the people who attended a weekend open house hosted by Whistler Blackcomb (WB) were fully supportive of the future plans for the local mountains.
However, a number of people in the crowd expressed concern with the demographic of session attendees, as the crowd was mainly made up of people over age 40. About 200 attended Saturday’s (Feb. 26) event to outline the mountain operators’ updated draft master plans.
After a presentation from Dave Brownlie, WB’s president and CEO, and Doug Forseth, senior VP of operations, most of the publicly-asked questions were about timelines. Brownlie said near the end of the open house session that many people he spoke with also wanted to know when the plans will be implemented.
“As soon as it looks like it makes sense for us, obviously from a business point of view,” said Brownlie. “I think it will be sooner as opposed to later.”
The draft master plans call for Blackcomb Glacier Provincial Park to be removed from the provincial park system, more lifts in the Musical Bumps area and the installation of lifts up the southwest portion of Whistler Mountain above Cheakamus Crossing.
The project identified by Brownlie and Forseth as the one most likely to move ahead first was also the one that received applause from open house attendees: The Harmony Express lift on Whistler will be replaced with a higher capacity lift, while the existing Harmony Express is slated to be moved to the Crystal Zone.
The project is a “top priority,” Forseth said.
Hugh Smythe, former Intrawest president of resort operations, attended the open house and said the idea to bring more skiers to the Harmony and Crystal areas is a good first step.
“Phasing is really important,” Smythe said. “You can get out of balance and the balance is so good right now how everything just kind of flows even on those big days.”
Long-time resident Terry Spence said the move will give “more access to the nicest skiing in the area.”
Spence said he likes that the mountains have long-term plans and he only had one concern.
“Concerns? That they will make it too easy to get to some of the really good stuff. I think you gotta put out a little effort to get into Spanky’s. I don’t want to see a lift up there,” Spence said.
His friend Bill Lamont said he wished the plan was a six-year plan and not a 60-year plan.
Casey Niewerth said the economy is not with the plan at this point, but when the economy does turn around he is all for the WB plans.
Genevieve Ciebien said the plan is a proactive one. Her husband Mike said he was happy to see that the mountains aren’t looking to triple the number of visitors they can put onto the mountains.
“Three dollar a day parking in the Village,” was on Mike Ceibein’s wish list. “That will help bring traffic to the Village.”
Dave Anderson said he thinks putting lifts into the Blackcomb Glacier isn’t a great idea.
“It is a neat place to go to not serviced by lifts,” he said. “Putting lifts in there will spoil that. Putting lifts in there will mean more use and then it won’t be so good.”
In advance of the public open house, a presentation was held for WB employees and about 40 workers attended to learn more about the draft master plan.
The provincial Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is seeking public feedback on the new draft master plans for WB. The plans are available online at www.tti.gov.bc.ca/resort_development/resort_plans/list_of_plans.htm and comments can be emailed to email@example.com. The deadline is March 25.