*** Want to hear more on this story? Listen to CBC Radio newscasts tomorrow morning, Thursday February 26th, for excerpts from an interview with Priya Ramu, who contacted me after reading Wednesdays bits and bites feature.
That is the word from Vancouver 2010 representative Suzanne Walters, who advised me via an email through Tourism BC that the Sea to Sky highway will remain open during the games – at least that is her understanding. VANOC has yet to release the official transportation plan.
However, anyone wishing to drive to Whistler will need proof of a designated parking spot. There will be no public parking available for the duration of the games. She refers to this link on the Vancouver 2010 website for more information:
Suzanne does mention, however, that an overview of the transportation plan will be released in a couple weeks, and more specifics will be known then.
The question is, how good is this current information from VANOC regarding possible restrictions on the Sea to Sky highway and will it change? And what does this mean for people trying to make travel plans and reservations for their visits to BC during the 2010 Olympics?
A little background to get you up to speed.
After hearing from several of my readers that the information they had received from travel agents around North America was proving to be very inconsistent as to whether or not the Sea to Sky highway would remain open for public travel during the games, I decided to see what Vanoc had to say when a potential visitor called or made email enquiries regarding just this issue.
If anything, I wanted to be able to provide some clarification for my readers. And honestly, I was quite curious myself.
Could I get the right information about the Sea to Sky highway if I were to try and make travel plans?
I initially contacted the Vancouver 2010 general information line on February 12th in an effort to find out exactly what potential visitors were dealing with when trying to make travel arrangements to visit the area during the Olympics. After being told by the clerk who answered that she didn’t know, I was put on hold for 14 minutes while she tried to find someone that did.
When she returned, she told me that the highway would be open with no restrictions, but that there was going to be no public parking in Squamish or Whistler, so that would be an issue. You would need to have accommodation’s that come with a parking spot.
Immediately after this call, I also sent an email to the Vancouver 2010 information address asking this:
I see that on the 2010 site that there is an Olympic bus network for travel to whistler during the games.
Will the Sea to sky highway be open for regular traffic during the period of the games for drivers not attending a venue? We are trying to determine what plans we should make to visit the area during this time, but do not plan to attend any ticket events.
On February 19th, I received the following reponse:
Thank you for your interest in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is working with our local and provincial government partners and various transportation agencies to ensure an efficient and sustainable Games-time transportation plan.
Part of the plan includes ensuring that the highway between Vancouver and Whistler can be travelled safely and quickly. Access to the highway may be restricted during peak hours for buses of athletes and spectators and local residents. The use of an “Olympic Lane” during peak hours is a common practice at Games, but VANOC and our partners will make every effort to minimize any disruption to local residents.
Thanks again, Vancouver 2010 Info”
So, one inquiry tells me the highway is open and no restrictions, and this email implies there are likely to be restrictions ?
Clearly, one can ascertain that there are some immediate issues for anyone trying to make travel arrangements such as vehicle reservations, or ensuring that their accomodations do have a designated parking spot. It seems that reliable – and correct – information is not easily at hand for those making enquiries though www.vancouver2010.com site. As of yet, the true availability of public travel on the Sea to Sky highway is unknown to anyone but those in charge of the Transportation plan, which we expected to see today, but alas- it is still no where to be found.
So today, trying once again to see what potential tourists who wanted to go to Whistler via their own vehicle would be told, I went to the Canvouer 2010 website to call the general information line again, but the link leading to that number was non-operational. Trying the next best thing that a tourist might look at, I found a link with a number for Tourism BC and spoke to Mika Ryan… who, unfortunately, also did not know whether or not the highway would be open,closed or restricted.
Tourism BC doesn’t know either ??
Come on VANOC, people have to make plans here. To say I felt frustrated was an understatement. What would someone from another country be going through? The highway is open, the highway is closed, the highway will be open but with restrictions…..Nothing jives but the parking issue. However,after Mika promised that she would forward my question to her contact at VANOC, I gladly fired off yet another email in my quest to find out what is going on with that darned highway.
” Hi Mika, thanks for your assistance.
The question is as above – in trying to make travel arrangements now, for the period of 2010, will the sea to sky highway be open to regular travel for non-ticket holders who want to travel to Whistler? Travel agencies are giving vastly different answers with regards to travel.
To which I received this reply :
“The highway will be open but parking at Whistler will be the issue – my understanding is that to drive to Whistler drivers need proof of a designated parking spot. An overview of the transportation plan is coming out in the next few weeks so there will be more specific information coming on that front.Laila will find this page useful
So there you have it. Depending on who you ask, the highway ” will be open”, and it ” may have restrictions”, however there is no parking to be had in Whistler -and dare I say- Squamish? What are earth must people be going through to find out this information, and what happens if and when this information changes?
One would think that definitive plans would have been finalized by VANOC now, in order to facilitate the ease of which people plan their trips.
Clearly, you take your chances if you are making travel plans around driving to Whistler, or renting vehicles, or simply trying to sight see during the games.
Until VANOC releases a definitive ( read carved in stone) transportation plan, you are on your own.
Vancouver 2010 is giving mixed information and at the very least, really should just be telling people the truth – that their representatives honestly do not know much more than we do right now, and to say anything else is asking for problems down the road.
What should you do until then?
I would suggest that if you are planning to go to Whistler during 2010, plan on taking their buses or other public transit.
Certainly, I would suggest that to sign a contract or give a deposit on a rental vehicle reservation is risky right now, if you don’t have parking in Whistler.
That much at least, seems to be reliable information that can be counted on.
However, I wouldn’t rely on anything you hear from your travel agent, or any other Vancouver 2010 information line until that Transportation plan is released , because making plans without knowing all the details might just leave you… and your wallet – out in the cold.