Project includes having a bigger beach, new dock, habitat improvements, additional seating and shade, and more!
Whistler’s iconic Rainbow Park will be refreshed this summer to accommodate increased visitation and target how its many user groups share the space.
The improvements include a bigger and improved beach, new dock, additional seating and picnicking zones, as well as trees in ecological areas and around the lawn for shade. A food truck plaza will be built, and a paved path and lift added to make this third dock accessible.
“Whistler is known for its outstanding parks and the Rainbow Park rejuvenation project will ensure this iconic destination continues to be a cherished spot for the community and visitors we welcome. The improvements will protect the area’s ecological health and ensure the park continues to thrive for many years to come,” says Mayor Jack Crompton.
Funded by the Province of British Columbia’s Resort Municipality Initiative, it will not impact municipal property taxes, but will address the increased volume experienced by the municipal park system.
Whistler’s four largest destination parks—Rainbow Park, Lost Lake Park, Lakeside Park and Alpha Lake Park—saw a sharp increase in visitation over the last two years. More than 176,000 visits were recorded in the summer of 2021 for a 77 per cent increase over visitation levels in 2019.
The new design expands and improves the beach, adds a food truck plaza, additional seating, a hammock lounge and shade beneath more trees.
“We know park users tend to gravitate to the perimeter of a park to people watch and enjoy the space, so we’ve maximized the edges to give as many groups as possible a way to comfortably enjoy the park,” says Jessie Gresley-Jones, General Manager of Climate Action, Planning and Development Services.
In order to accommodate the active construction zone, the park will close for summer 2023. Efforts to relocate some of the park’s popular amenities to other regional parks are underway and will be communicated through municipal channels, along with ways to access Whistler’s lakes.
This year is the second phase of Rainbow Park upgrades. Improvements were made to the entry and parking area last year. A turnaround for the municipal park shuttle service and easy drop-offs was added, and the upper gravel lot organized to reduce congestion. A Valley Trail segment was also built to link the washrooms and Alta Lake Road, and accessible parking added, with prioritized stalls.
The full redesign was informed by the Whistler Resort Development Strategy 2019 to 2024, the 2021 Whistler Summer Experience Plan, the Climate Action Big Moves Strategy, the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan, and the Official Community Plan. In addition, hundreds of community members shared their vision for Whistler’s parks through the Outside Voice engagement.