Whistlerites could see a wealth of new recreational opportunities in the resort if the recommendations presented in the municipality’s 10-year Recreation and Leisure Master Plan come to fruition.
The long-term vision for Whistler’s municipal parks, trails and recreation facilities was compiled following extensive community engagement and meetings with community groups, stakeholders and partners. The plan seeks to maintain and enhance the resort’s existing assets and consider new opportunities that present a benefit to the community while enriching recreational and leisure opportunities. The plan was organized around 20 topic areas, and provides over 50 draft directions for consideration.
Recognizing the need to increase utilization of existing sports fields, the plan recommends a temporary reconfiguration of Whistler’s field inventory to potentially allow for future recreational tournament. Staff recommended the sports fields at Meadow Park be converted from single to multi use, while the fields at Myrtle Philip Community School and Whistler Secondarywere singled out for possible renovation in conjunction with School District 48.
“(This) will add to the opportunities to run tournaments, and each one of those has an economic impact that could bring up to 500 families for different tournaments,” said Coun. Andrée Janyk, a member of the municipal Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee (RLAC).
Staff also proposed the introduction of a zero-tolerance policy for dogs on sports fields, provided viable alternative space for dog owners is offered.
In terms of municipal parks, the municipality continually heard the public’s concerns with unlawful behaviour and crowding. The draft plan recommends ramping up education efforts and bylaw enforcement to curb illegal activity, and creating ‘pocket parks’ in underutilized areas to address crowding, particularly at waterfront parks.
If approved, Municipal Hall will develop a rejuvenation plan for Whistler’s Village nearly 20-year-old skate park.
“There are parts of (the park) which are very cherished, other parts are worn out and others that are quite out of date,” said the RMOW’s manager of parks planning. “It’s an opportunity to give back to the youth.”
With Tourism Whistler indicating the recent growth of alpine hiking to municipal staff, the RMOW proposed exploring the development of this recreational product, and wants to track usage to explore potential opportunities. Similarly, the muni wants to capitalize on downhill mountain biking’s popularity by developing “a niche market of multi-use trails in the Sproatt/Rainbow area,” Pardoe said. Municipal Hall will also work with the Whistler BMX Club to identify a suitable space for an Olympic size BMX course.
Additionally, recreation staff suggested exploring ways to increase the profile of cross-country mountain biking in the community, and will work with the province to improve the road cycling experience on Highway 99.
Pardoe stressed the importance of working with community partners to enhance recreational assets that are adjacent to Whistler but fall outside of municipal boundaries, citing the recently completed Ancient Cedars improvement project spearheaded by the Cheakamus Community Forest as a prime example of this strategy working successfully.
“There are natural assets that are outside of municipal boundaries that are sometimes managed by others, but they’re all part of the Whistler recreational experience (and) guests don’t necessarily recognize those jurisdictional boundaries, and they have influence on their experience here,” he said.
Looking at Whistler’s recreational facilities, staff wants to implement a long-term needs assessment and phased master plan for Meadow Park that would protect possible space for a second sheet of ice in the future. Preliminary work on the expansion and rejuvenation of the Meadow Park’s change rooms has already begun.
A concept for a whitewater kayak slalom course will be explored for placement in the Village, if the draft directions are approved.
“It’s not something that’s going to provide a significant economic return, but it’s something that adds a layer of further animation within our community and adds to our identity as an adventure sports action community,” said Pardoe.
The plan recommends monitoring for potential user conflicts and inappropriate use on Alta Lake, where an opportunity for an indoor sailing or rowing club is also being explored.
Staff will also explore ways to improve gaps in the Valley Trail network, improve way finding and develop a means to address unsanctioned trails.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was impressed with the overview of the plan, presented to council Tuesday (Oct. 1).
“This has been quite a significant effort by a lot of people, both on RLAC and with the community workshops, so the overview was good, and I’m expecting the actual written report itself is going to be very detailed,” she said.
The final version of the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan is expected to come before council in November.
The full draft plan will be available for public viewing sometime next week.