With winter in full swing, officials are preparing for road congestion and busier parking lots once again, particularly during the holiday season.
Last summer, the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) introduced pay parking in Day Lots 4 and 5 during peak season in an attempt to curb the number of drivers going to the Village and help fund transit initiatives.
While pay parking was suspended for the shoulder season, it’s set to return on Dec. 15 until April 15.
“We keep monitoring it and trying to make it work for the community,” said acting Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. “So our ears and eyes are open to what’s working and what’s not working. The big message I hear on the positive side of things was the free and expanded transit was a win.”
The new initiatives stem from the TAG, which the municipality re-activated in 2015 to address congestion issues on both the highway and in Village parking lots.
For the second round of pay parking, the municipality is also introducing a car pooling pass — in addition to its resident/employee parking pass — that will allow workers to put multiple license plates on one pass. (Only one car will be allowed to use the pass in the lots at a time.)
“It’s been something the community has brought to the conversation,” Crompton said. “It’s something we think will drive people towards car pooling and it’s exciting when the community concept moves the dial for the RMOW.”
Another new initiative meant to encourage more people to ride buses is the Transit Spirit Pass, run in conjunction with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. It will allow employees who are participating in the Whistler Experience Program to buy a six-month pass at a discount that amounts to a free month or a 12-month pass for three months free.
While numbers haven’t been released on how many locals have purchased the pass, Crompton said he expects it to be successful.
“I would say anything that reduces the cost of transportation for our workforce is something that I enthusiastically embrace,” he said.
Meanwhile, the municipality is celebrating another big transit win. After a lengthy effort, Whistlerites are now able to bring their compost, recycling and garbage on the bus to the transfer station — as long as it’s in a container and not a bag.
“It took years of lobbying (BC Transit),” Crompton said. “It’s definitely the right direction. (The issue was) buses that have spills need to be taken out of service, so it has not been something that BC Transit has been enthusiastic about.”
To that end, he urges residents to be careful when transporting waste or recycling. “I’d strongly encourage our community to be very careful with their buckets of waste and ensure there are no holes or spills so we can keep it in place.”