Whistler sometimes has a funny way going about things.
Our merchants badly need more retail business yet we’re talking about banning plastic bags without offering a realistic alternative.
We flood the market with restricted housing without considering the impact on the value of other taxpayers’ homes.
We defer to the interests of the communities up and down the valley without recognizing how dependent their fates are on our own success.
We rely heavily on air transport but reject air transport as unsustainable.
We recognize the importance of rubber tire traffic, then force drivers to park in the smallest parking spaces on the face of the planet.
In short, we sometimes appear to enjoy cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
This being the Christmas season, my mind turns to a subject near and dear to all of our hearts — booze. We are a town that somewhat relies on booze, yet we don’t treat drinkers with the reverence they deserve. What I am talking about here is the cash flow booze generates and the way we treat those who pay to drink it while on holiday.
We sell booze to our patrons in our genteel and not-so-genteel drinking establishments. We entice guests to visit Whistler with seductive pictures of a young, or not-so-young, brave-heart seducing his intended partner with a well-placed glass of wine.
Our restaurants promote menus filled with booze-laden dishes or wine pairings. Booze companies sponsor our events and our local athletes.
Then we tell the people who pay darned good money for the booze and the expensive food that goes with it that they should not drive home if they have a glass of wine with dinner.
Sure, drinkers can take a bus or taxi home, but that begs a question. The idea of driving into the Village and taxiing home is perfectly reasonable, but where to park? According to Whistler.ca the library underground is available for 24 hours at a cost of $10. That is a great deal, but the number of spaces is very limited. The Conference Center is also available for 24 hours for the same price. For most revellers that is a great location but, again, the number of spaces is limited. The parking on Sundial Crescent and the Visitor’s Loop is limited to two hours. The parking on Main Street, Municipal Hall and Village Green and Crystal Lodge is a somewhat more generous at four hours.
The Municipality has always maintained that parking meters are not intended to be a revenue generator. They are intended to encourage shoppers to move along so that other shoppers can park their cars and shop. So the story goes.
For the life of me I can’t think of a single retailer who is open at 3 a.m. In fact, at 3 a.m. you can roll a bowling ball through most of the Village without disturbing anybody. So for the holiday season, instead of enticing people to our community, plying them with booze and then towing their cars if they are too prudent to drive home, why not let people park overnight in any of the municipal spaces, or Lots 1 through 4, for free?
Not only would free overnight parking be good for business, announcing the policy would allow Whistler to send the message that we are open for business and are thinking about our guests.
Sure, snow clearing might be a problem but it will work itself out. Lack of guests, or unhappy guests telling their friends not to come here, is a bigger problem. The way I see it, free overnight parking — at least during the holiday season — is a no-lose proposition.