Good things never last. This is especially true in regards to parking. Every time you find that great parking spot close to the lift, or even close to your favorite hut’s trailhead, you know deep down that it is only a matter of time before some meter maid starts to come around and put a damper on your hoedown. The spot might be free for the time being, but once locals in their beat up Toyotas start to frequent these prime open spaces some sort of management will always step in to make a buck, or a Toonie. The disappointing phase of this inevitable cycle is occurring now in Whistler as the pricing scheme of Day Lots 1-5 is being revised. Lots 4 and 5, free until now, will soon cost $8-12 per day (the usual price in lots 1-3), and still be free in the evenings. Thank you Whistler Blackcomb Parking Lot Operation Committee for the generous continued free parking after 6:00pm in lots 4 and 5, the compromise is thoughtful, but my lift-accessed skiing tends to only occur until 4:30pm, and therefore I am still paying for parking. Unless a hearty face plant prompted way too many pain-relieving drinks during the ski day, and led to a sobering nap thereafter until the night begins, then the free evening parking is trivial.
The Whistler Way contends that these new charges will “Support the community’s long‐term transportation, greenhouse gas reduction, and air quality plans by promoting behavioral changes in modes of transportation (transit, cycling, walking on the Valley Trail, and bus/ shuttle services to Whistler),” but then goes on, in a conflicting manner, admit that the fees will serve to “Improve the visitor experience with better Day Lots: paving, stairs, improved lighting, and premium spaces for visitors.” And “Fund the Day Lot parking infrastructure, maintenance as well as transit, instead of having taxpayers subsidize costs, particularly since Council has committed to a tax rate increase in 2011 of no more than 4 per cent.” To me, these sound like very contradicting benefits. Lets review; increased lighting and infrastructure maintenance will somehow lower the carbon footprint of the Day Lots, all the while targeting a new clientele that is specifically expected to drive their vehicles from places other than whistler. It might take a stronger argument to convince me that the environment and a heightened sense of sustainable transportation among Whistler residents plays any role in the decision to charge money in Day Lots 4 and 5. I can, on the other hand, see the impetus behind a major ski resort capitalizing on the opportunity to garner added revenues, and in this case, why not just come out and say that this is the way things work in prestigious areas and tuff luck. I’ll do it for them: “broke and dedicated snow sliders of Whistler who will now have to pay for parking in Day Lots 4 and 5, your satisfaction is not comparable to the money that two flat and empty pieces of land can potentially generate for the massive Whistler Blackcomb Resort machine.” This new revenue stream for “sustainable parking lot management” would amount to $1.375 million for the next year and surely lead to a related swell in dollars from parking tickets as well, while locals search for their new secret spot. As The Whistler Way astutely points out, “There is no “free” parking. There are significant costs associated with the associated infrastructure and maintenance.” Well put. I wonder if the Whistler Way is in any way associated with the resort, or maybe they are associated with the Parking Lot Operation Committee; Hard to tell know, but I’ll have my associate look into it. One thing is for sure though; there is no free parking.