Last week the Resort Municipality of Whistler announced plans to move the “Welcome to Whistler” sign on Highway 99, currently just south of Function Junction, to a better location even further south.
The initial work is expected to be complete this Friday (Dec. 20) if the weather cooperates, with the sign occupying a new site just north of the Brandywine Creek Bridge and south of the Callaghan Road, about 1.8km north of Whistler’s southern boundary. The installation includes a concrete foundation for the sign and electrical service for the lights. Landscaping and stone cladding of the sign’s base will take place in the spring.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the sign move was a needed first step for an overall welcome strategy.
“We’ve discussed (the welcome strategy) with this council, because there’s a level of dissatisfaction with the current entrance to Whistler,” she said. “It’s really kind of a non-event, with the welcome sign adjacent to the sewage treatment plant, and all the signage around Function Junction. It’s really cluttered and not very welcoming, and this is the first step to making the south entrance a more welcome event.”
The new sign installation will be located at a pullout. “It’s my expectation that there will be flags, some signage and some (visitor information) of some sort. We’re not talking about a manned station, we’re not going that far,” said Wilhelm-Morden.
The budget for the sign relocation was approved earlier this year in the 2013-2017 Five-Year Financial Plan, along with other landscaping and remediation work between the new location and Function Junction in 2014.
Wilhelm-Morden said that other welcoming strategies are also being looked at for the rest of the way into the village. One priority is to make the village Greyhound bus station and tax loop area more visible.
“There’s no actual bus shelters there, so people might end up standing in the rain or snow and it’s difficult, too… because of all the trees and foliage it’s difficult to see when you come out of the village,” she said. “So we will be doing something there too.”
The previous council entertained the idea of building a $7 million welcome hub in Whistler Village with space for buses, information for visitors and other amenities, but it never progressed past the initial concept.