What it’s about
Outdoor and indoor recreation and programs; more specifically, it pertains to municipal parks, trails, natural and urban open spaces, indoor facilities, programs and user fees.
Whistler is recognized as a leader in offering recreation, sport and leisure activities in a beautiful mountain environment.
Known for our healthy and engaged recreation-minded culture, residents and visitors of all ages and abilities enjoy year-round, affordable and diverse opportunities that encourage active living. Collectively, our recreation and leisure offerings provide opportunities to be physically, mentally and socially active for life, while at the same time being a foundation for athlete development and growth in recreation and sport.
Whistler’s outdoor recreation and leisure opportunities occur in, and celebrate, our mountain landscape and natural beauty—characteristics that are key to our sense of place and well-being. The resort community is recognized for its efforts to protect, as well as minimize and manage impacts on, the natural environment associated with recreation and leisure infrastructure and operations.
An extensive network of open spaces, trails, parks, natural areas and facilities is continually enhanced and provides diverse opportunities for recreation and leisure. Whistler’s lakes remain a quiet reflection providing needed contrast to the energetic resort community vibe.
Whistler’s indoor recreation and leisure opportunities include a range of weather independent, scalable and flexible use indoor community activity and recreation spaces for programs and services, including Meadow Park, which is a full-service recreation centre.
Whistler’s recreation and leisure amenities and services are not only provided by the municipality. Partnerships, collaborations and private enterprise expand offerings and maintenance responsibilities, and help achieve mutual local, regional, environmental and economic goals.
The community-developed Recreation and Leisure Master Plan (RLMP) continues to be the guiding document for Whistler’s recreation and leisure amenity needs, and is periodically updated with public and stakeholder engagement. Recreational trends, issues and opportunities are always changing, and Whistler continues to provide new or refreshed reasons to be active for life and come to the resort.
Recreation and leisure in the natural environment are the foundation of Whistler’s culture and our sense of place, and are major drivers of the local economy.
Recreation and leisure foster psychological, social, economic and spiritual benefits that support the well-being of Whistler’s residents and visitors. This focus is a natural extension of the community’s roots in recreation-based active lifestyles.
Whistler’s recreation and leisure opportunities are diverse. Residents and visitors choose from an impressive variety of physical and leisure activities supported by Whistler’s natural areas, open spaces, trails, parks, lakes and recreation facilities. The diversity of opportunities is delivered through the combined efforts of private enterprises, local government, partnerships, community members and dedicated not-for-profit groups. Recreation opportunities typically exist on municipal and Crown lands. Whistler’s recreation and leisure facilities are shown in Schedules E1, E2 and F. Additionally, active transportation infrastructure is shown in Schedule E3.
The Council-adopted RLMP (2015) reflects the needs of Whistler residents and achieves a balance between recreation and leisure infrastructure and protection of the natural environment. With input from relevant stakeholders and agencies, the RLMP provides direction for municipal Council to ensure that Whistler’s natural and recreational resources are preserved, demand is managed and that parkland is set aside for future use. The RLMP allows the resort community to be strategic in the provision of recreation and leisure infrastructure.
Many of the recreational opportunities enjoyed and planned for by the resort community cross a variety of jurisdictional boundaries. Cooperation among all jurisdictions is essential to achieve individual goals that are mutually beneficial to all.
Click the ‘Objectives & Policies’ to display additional content.
9.3. Goal Continually reaffirm our sense of place as the foundation to Whistler’s recreation and leisure experience.
Whistler’s natural landscapes and scenic qualities are highly valued and preserved.
Recognize the value of the natural environment in contributing to our sense of place and the impacts of incremental change.
Identify, preserve, improve and maximize areas of physical and scenic importance within municipal boundaries in participation with relevant agencies and stakeholders in accordance with and to the extent permitted by legislation.
Identify, preserve, improve and maximize areas of physical and scenic importance outside of municipal boundaries and in coordination with the Cheakamus Community Forest, as well as other land managers and stakeholders.
Promote the preservation of suitable public lands through park designations or other regulatory and legislative means.
Designate natural areas for preservation, where appropriate and in alignment with OCP objectives.
Manage natural areas and recreation assets for long-term wildfire fuel management impacts and the mitigation of fuel-load hazards.
Strive to preserve viewscapes and scenic corridors as part of the development approval and rezoning process.
Retain scenic views to and from key open spaces to the extent permitted by legislation.
Support existing provincial and federal regulations that restrict motorized boat use, motorized activities, fishing and accommodation on Whistler’s water bodies.
Whistler’s recreation and leisure system contributes to the social well-being of residents and visitors.
Recognize that recreation and leisure provide opportunities for social interaction and add social value to our community, thus building upon our sense of belonging to this place.
Encourage opportunities for social interaction, diversity and inclusion that further our collective well-being and the Whistler way of life.
Residents and visitors are knowledgeable about and engaged with our unique natural environment, cultural history and way of life.
Regularly communicate responsible ways of interacting with our natural environment and each other.
Encourage opportunities to communicate our natural and cultural history and local culture within Whistler’s recreation and leisure system.
Encourage opportunities to restore and embrace our natural environment.
Non-motorized recreation and leisure experiences are preferred.
Non-motorized, low-environmental-impact and low intensity recreation and leisure activities are preferred over other activities, while recognizing inevitable motorized technology changes, as well as the key contribution of mechanized lift access on Whistler Blackcomb to the local economy.
Encourage non-motorized recreation to promote the health and well-being of residents and visitors.
Encourage existing motorized recreation providers to transition to more environmentally sustainable and responsible operating models consistent with Whistler’s values.
9.4. Goal Achieve a balance between user needs, the natural environment and user experiences in providing recreational opportunities.
Ensure that recreational opportunities respect Whistler’s natural environment.
Allow for public use and enjoyment of natural watercourses, water bodies, wetlands, natural forested areas and alpine areas on a site-by-site basis, where such use can be shown to be compatible with OCP policies and development permit guidelines, the Riparian Areas Regulation, public safety including source water protection, provincial biologist recommendations, other legislation and best management practices.
Continue to monitor and manage user levels, including backcountry and alpine areas, to prevent overuse and environmental damage.
Promote use of preferred modes of transportation to access recreation and leisure amenities to reduce public vehicle parking requirements with consideration given to maintaining site-by-site accessible parking.
Recognize that public vehicular access to and parking at recreation and leisure amenities may be targeted, restricted, discouraged or managed due to environmental concerns, neighbourhood disruption, demand management, feasibility and cost.
Evaluate access, parking and ancillary support facilities needs at remote areas on a site-by-site basis, in consideration of Policy 184.108.40.206. above.
Proactively manage assets to ensure responsible use and retention of the natural environment.
The Parks Bylaw in conjunction with the Animal Control Bylaw will be the primary means of determining acceptable human behaviour and activities in municipal parks and along the Valley Trail network.
The Parks Bylaw and Animal Control Bylaw will be reviewed and updated periodically or on an as-needed basis.
Continue to use the RCMP, municipal Bylaw Services, conservation officers, and third party security services to enforce, manage and further monitor responsible use.
Continue to proactively manage four-season recreational use in and around the 21 Mile Creek watershed.
Use seasonal or temporary closures, event restrictions, signage, social media and other public communications to encourage responsible use and protect assets.
Growth and capacity are managed to maintain experiential values and sense of place.
Work with tourism and marketing partners to strategically promote (or not promote) particular amenities in respect of current use levels and social media trends.
Where possible, work with online and traditional media and other marketing and communication channels to strategically promote (or not promote) particular amenities in respect of current use levels or other issues.
Establish qualitative and quantitative baseline user level data for key amenities to inform future studies about limits of acceptable change.
Consider a process by which amenities can be prioritized and limits of acceptable change can be determined.
9.5. Goal Continue to maintain, improve and provide a diverse variety of high quality and affordable recreation and leisure amenities and experiences.
Maintain a variety of recreation and leisure amenities.
Maintain Whistler’s high quality overall recreation and leisure infrastructure.
Ensure amenities are well-connected and integrated.
Public space is accessible and suitable to a range of ages, abilities and income levels.
Active and passive spaces provide areas to congregate, socialize, recreate, be physically active and spend time outdoors.
Retain a variety of open spaces for resort community needs.
Promote retention and careful management of a variety of open spaces, ranging from natural forests, alpine areas, waterbodies and open lawn areas to constructed urban spaces.
Ensure that an appropriate range of recreation and leisure amenities and services is available to residents and visitors.
Provide a variety of recreation and leisure amenities for the use and enjoyment of the resort community as shown in Schedules E1, E2, E3 and F.
Maintain a variety of affordable recreation and leisure opportunities.
Continue to provide a broad range of age appropriate recreation and leisure services.
Continue to provide recreation and leisure services and amenities catering to a broad range of knowledge, skills and abilities.
Provide accessible information and features within municipal websites, parks and facilities, so people may choose the type of recreation opportunities that best meet their needs.
Consider and test new recreation and leisure ideas, trends and opportunities.
Ensure that recreational opportunities highlight Whistler’s natural environment and cultural history.
Continue to develop and maintain natural environment and cultural history interpretive information that educates and connects the public to our landscape, while advancing natural area and cultural tourism objectives.
Collaborate with partners and stakeholders when developing natural and cultural history information.
Collaborate with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation when developing interpretive information to integrate both Nations’ history.
Provide and manage a system of major parks for resident and visitor use and enjoyment in support of the RLMP.
Continue to designate, develop and maintain major parks possessing unique or highly popular qualities as shown in Schedule F.
The planning, design and programming of major parks will reflect the broad needs and opportunities of the resort community.
Achieve a balance between neighbourhood and resort community needs in major parks located within or adjacent to residential neighbourhoods.
Consider sport, tournament facilities and event uses within major parks in consideration of sport tourism strategies and adjacent uses.
Provide a system of neighbourhood parks for resident and visitor use and enjoyment in support of the RLMP.
Continue to designate, develop and maintain neighbourhood parks as shown in Schedule F.
The planning and design of neighbourhood parks will reflect the recreation and leisure needs of the neighbourhoods’ residents.
Provide a recreational Valley Trail network.
Maintain and protect a comprehensive multi-use recreational Valley Trail network that links built and natural amenities as shown in Schedules E1, E2, E3 and F.
Use of the Valley Trail will be consistent with relevant municipal bylaws including the Parks Bylaw and the Animal Control Bylaw.
Plan, improve, expand and connect the recreational Valley Trail network in support of the RLMP, active transportation objectives and the Cycling Network Plan as shown in Schedules E1, E2, E3 and F.
With respect to future Valley Trail linkages shown in Schedules E1, E2, E3, and F, use a range of measures to legally establish the linkages, including: acceptance of trail dedications and grants of rights-of-way by landowners related to subdivision and other development approvals; voluntary donations; density bonuses in zoning regulations; amenity provisions in phased development agreements; and acquisition in cases where municipal funds are available.
Use the Valley Trail network for emergency access and egress where possible.
Plan, design and construct the Valley Trail network to allow appropriately sized service and emergency vehicles, where reasonably possible.
Apply wildfire risk reduction principles to the Valley Trail network to reduce ignition probabilities and the rate of fire spread, and to protect the network’s emergency capabilities in a prioritized manner.
Provide a recreational off-road trail network.
Continue to maintain and protect a comprehensive multi-use recreational off-road trail network as shown in Schedule E2.
Ensure the use of recreational off-road trails is consistent with relevant municipal bylaws including the Parks Bylaw and the Animal Control Bylaw, as well as the Forest and Range Practices Act where required.
With respect to electric powered bicycles, monitor ongoing policy development, uptake and enforcement at senior levels of government and in other jurisdictions, and update municipal policy as required.
Develop, implement and communicate trail management programs and infrastructure.
Continue to collaborate with relevant agencies, user groups, stakeholders, local health authorities and the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation regarding recreational trail management and development issues in Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor, including the Sea to Sky Trail.
Improve, expand and connect the recreational off-road network in support of the RLMP and in consideration of other off-road trail user groups and stakeholders.
With respect to future off-road recreational trail linkages shown in Schedule E2 and located upon Crown lands, use the section 57 “Authorization to construct, rehabilitate or maintain a recreation trail” and section 56 “Established recreation trail” process under the Forest and Range Practices Act to legally establish the linkages.
Apply wildfire risk reduction principles at off-road trailheads and congregation areas in a prioritized manner to reduce ignition probabilities and the rate of fire spread.
9.6. Goal Continue to work collaboratively with partner organizations to provide quality recreation and leisure amenities and experiences.
Municipal, regional and provincial land managers offer an array of quality offerings and services.
Encourage land managers responsible for areas of physical, scenic and recreational importance outside of municipal boundaries to identify, preserve and improve assets in response to demand and resort community objectives.
Maintain an active role with relevant agencies and stakeholders in reviewing proposals for non-municipal recreational activities and development within and adjacent to Whistler’s municipal boundaries.
Maintain and enhance, where necessary, existing School District 48 Joint Use Agreements.
Give consideration to new School District 48 Joint Use Agreements for any new or substantially changed School District No. 48 facilities.
Actively engage with senior levels of government to maintain experiential and natural habitat values on Whistler’s lakes.
Non-profit third party recreation service providers thrive, complement resort offerings and contribute to the social well-being of residents and visitors.
Continue to monitor and support local recreation groups, clubs and non-profits in the provision of integrated and well-rounded recreation and leisure offerings.
Partner with local recreation groups, clubs and non-profits on more significant initiatives as required.
9.7. Goal Strategically plan, engage, design and monitor significant recreation and leisure initiatives.
The RLMP is the guiding document for Whistler’s recreational and leisure needs.
Review and update the RLMP periodically.
Areas with recreation potential will be identified through the RLMP.
Use a proactive and consultative approach in the planning and development of recreation and leisure guiding documents, master plans and other significant and related initiatives.
Consider other high level municipal documents and initiatives, including the Economic Partnership Initiative, the Community Cultural Plan and the Corporate Plan, when planning, developing and reinvesting in recreation and leisure initiatives.
Integrate efforts with relevant agencies, committees of council and stakeholders where necessary.
Consider public engagement in the planning and development of recreation and leisure guiding documents, master planning processes and other related significant initiatives.
Investigate and test new initiatives where appropriate.
When required, undertake planning and feasibility studies when considering new amenities or reinvestment in existing amenities.
Use pilot programs to test the feasibility of new initiatives, where appropriate.
Strategically design recreation and leisure infrastructure.
Integrate and prioritize new recreation and leisure activities and amenities with existing or other new amenities where feasible.
Use best practice design principles to integrate amenities with overlapping and adjacent land uses and the natural environment.
Ensure infrastructure is universally accessible where possible, accommodating the functional needs of all individuals, including children, adults and seniors and those with visual, mobility or cognitive challenges.
Monitor amenities to inform operational needs or design modifications.
Review and monitor recreational amenities on an ongoing basis to ensure that they remain sufficient in scale, relevant to the resort community and environmentally appropriate.
9.8. Goal Continue to acquire lands to maintain a sense of place and to benefit the public.
Acquire lands to realize the RLMP’s objectives.
Explore opportunities to acquire or access lands in support of the RLMP.
Identify potential public access threats to recreation areas and explore opportunities to secure long-term public access.
Require recreation areas or open space to be dedicated as park or otherwise be provided to the municipality in accordance with and to the extent permitted by provincial legislation.
Maintain a park acquisition reserve fund to secure properties in support of the RLMP.
Require recreational trails shown in Schedule E2 to be dedicated as a public right-of-way or otherwise be provided to the municipality in accordance with and to the extent permitted by provincial legislation.
9.9. Goal Balance the use of public amenities for commercial and event use with the needs of residents and guests.
Ensure that commercial and event uses are consistent with the overall Community Vision and do not erode community needs or sense of ownership.
Use of public amenities by commercial and event operators is to be consistent with the overall Community Vision.
Continue to discourage intensive use, negative impact and motorized commercial business applications on Whistler’s lakes and throughout our recreation and leisure system.
Continue to discourage commercial watercraft uses at Lost Lake.
Recognize the limited capacity for commercial recreational opportunities in the public park and trail system.
Ensure that commercial and event uses consider potential impacts to use by residents, guests, adjacent lands and facilities.
Consider residents’ and guests’ use and enjoyment of public amenities and adjacent lands with respect to impacts of incremental use when assessing a potential commercial or event use of a given amenity.
Consider an amenity’s current levels of use, as well as any necessary ancillary lands and uses, when assessing a potential commercial or event use.
Manage and protect assets from potential impacts of commercial and event uses through municipal bylaws and concession agreements.