Transportation Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of Village North sign in Whistler

User Pay Parking at Parks: Frequently Asked Questions

To manage parking demand at some of Whistler’s busier parks, the municipality is piloting a summer user pay parking program at Rainbow, Lakeside, Alpha and Wayside Parks and on Alta Lake Road, adjacent to the Rainbow Park entrance.

User pay parking at select parks is a summer pilot program (May 15 to September 15) and is part of the 2021 Summer Experience Plan, which has three goals:

  • Manage the increased visitation to Whistler’s busiest parks, thus ensuring that park guests have an authentic and positive park experience
  • Decrease park congestion and manage increased demand on park infrastructure and services, including washrooms and waste
  • Support the use of active transportation/sustainable transportation options thus supporting the RMOW’s Big Move: By 2030, 50% of all trips in Whistler are by transit and active transportation

Questions regarding the summer parking pilot project can be directed to

Please see below for Frequently Asked Questions regarding the pilot program.

Locations include Alpha Lake Park, Wayside Park, Lakeside Park, Rainbow Park and a portion of Alta Lake Road south of the Rainbow Park access driveway.   Parking is not permitted on Alta Lake Road between the Rainbow Park Entrance and Rainbow Falls Trail head.

  • The user pay parking pilot project runs from May 15 to September 15.
  • User pay parking will be in effect daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is free outside of these peak hours 
  • Accessible parking is free with a decal.
  • There is a 25¢ service fee for the PayByPhone service.

The hourly rate is $2 with a 6 hour maximum stay.   Parking can be purchased via onsite meters and PayByPhone.  Accessible parking is free with a decal. 

Last year, Whistler saw an unprecedented amount of visitation to our parks that was not sustainable. This had impacts on the overall experience of our parks and our ability to provide services to these parks. Some of the challenges included:

  • traffic safety issues
  • lack of parking availability during peak hours, and
  • Strain on our park infrastructure (washrooms, waste).

We learned from the Transportation Action Plan that adjusting the price of parking and using the funds to pay for transportation alternatives (secure bike parking, Rainbow Park Shuttle), helps shift some vehicle trips to preferred modes especially on peak days.

This is also a first step towards implementing the Climate Action Big Moves Strategy and targets.  Namely, half of local trips are by transit and active transportation by 2030. 

Informed by community members, partner organizations and local energy and climate change mitigation experts, the Climate Action Big Moves Strategy focuses on transportation, buildings, and waste, and articulates the key strategies Whistler will need to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet its targets. The Big Moves target commits Whistler to reducing GHG emissions by 50 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030. The Big Moves approach is being used by many other leading cities and communities, so Whistler is in good company as it embarks on this strategic path. Learn more at

Personal vehicles are by far Whistler’s largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 54 per cent of Whistler’s total emissions. Moving beyond car-based transport to active transport and increased transit use is a key opportunity to reduce personal transport-related emissions. Averaging out summer and winter 2019 survey results, 67 per cent of full-time residents make most of their trips to work in cars, while 33 per cent travel to work primarily using transit or active transport.

The user pay parking pilot program aims to:

  • Respond to capacity challenges including parking availability, and increased park use
  • Incentivize active modes of travel
  • Make active modes safe, easy and convenient through services like secure bike parking
  • Incentivize parking turnover and availability
  • Test and support transit opportunities

The program will be evaluated by:

  • Park Shuttle use levels
  • Bike Valet use levels
  • Pay parking length of stay by weekday/weekend
  • Pay parking “full by” times by weekday/weekend
  • Pay parking revenue generated vs preferred transportation (park shuttle) costs

The program will be actively monitored throughout the summer.  We intend on evaluating and refining the program in the fall based on data gathered during the summer.  User behaviour changes take time and a reasonable period of data collection is needed to monitor the impacts of the program and the other options available.  Making changes a few weeks into a program would not allow us to evaluate it effectively and would not create behavior change in users able to adopt new mobility patterns.

If you want to provide feedback on the summer parking program please email to help inform the staff report to council reviewing the summer pilot.

Each community and parking management situation is unique.  However, we are looking at other pilot projects across the lower mainland who are facing similar challenges with park visitation and parking constraints. Pay parking is a tool being piloted by many of these jurisdictions.

No, accessible parking is free of charge at any time in parks.

Yes.  The meters are operated by a third party.  Payments are completed by Moneris.

Our parks are nearly as busy on weekdays as weekends. 

Parking passes encourage people to drive and stay longer which continues to contribute to the lack of available parking. Hourly user parking fees encourage users to consider how long they actually need to park or if they can get to the park in another manner.  Successful parking management must consider both locals and guests in trying to create behavior change and access our parks in a sustainable manner. We must all do our part to make our parks a success.

In addition, a discounted or free resident’s pass would not guarantee parking availability therefore the RMOW would be selling a service that it cannot guarantee.

On all days of the week we are encouraging people to walk or bike to the park when possible.  Last summer and early summer indicators have shown that weekdays are almost as busy as weekends and parking is very limited during peak use hours.

Encouraging residents and visitors to use more sustainable modes of transportation, such as transit and cycling, is a first step toward meeting our Climate Action Big Moves Targets.  Namely half of local trips are by transit and active transportation by 2030.  We encourage the community to learn more about the RMOW’s Climate Action Big Moves strategy and targets at

It should also be noted that revenues generated from user pay parking at the park goes back into funding the free Rainbow Park Shuttle and the secure bike and gear storage at Rainbow and Lost Lake Parks.

Free transit on weekends and holidays was a recommendation of the Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) as part of the Whistler Transportation Action Plan.  Free transit on busy weekends was piloted in August of 2016. Starting July t, 2017, the free weekend and holiday transit has been a means of reducing traffic congestion during peak times. 

As a resort community, Whistler’s viability and economy relies on tourism and providing services to our guests. Council strives to balance the needs of our community members and visitors.  Free transit is a service that we hope both visitors and residents take advantage of.   

Revenues from park parking are reinvested into the free Rainbow park shuttle, secure bike and gear parking and park infrastructure.  These funds do not go to general revenue and are targeted to support reinvestment in our overall park experience for all users.

Revenues from Day Lots go back into operating expenses (such as snow clearing, line painting), repayment of the parking lot, reserves for capital and future operations and the Community Transportation Initiatives Fund, also known as CTIF.  Overseen by the Transportation Advisory Group, CTIF funds go towards transit subsidies, free weekend transit and additional local transit services such as the Route 10-Valley Express.

The free Bike Valet is an attended and secure bike and gear storage service.Situated within a gated corral, park users can leave anything ‘human powered’ (i.e. bikes, chariots, strollers, paddleboards) with the attendant for safe keeping.Similar to a coat check, simply drop off your bike and you will receive a ticket to reclaim your items. The Bike Valet service is available at Lost Lake Park, Rainbow Park and Whistler Olympic Plaza. Visit for more information.

Recognizing that watercraft transportation can be challenging without the use of a vehicle, we have installed additional watercraft storage spaces earlier this spring and 35 new spaces will be coming available in the coming weeks. Watch for advertisements in the Pique Newsmagazine.   For information visit

Assistance animals that are certified are allowed on public transit and the Rainbow Park Shuttle at all times. You may be asked to produce your Guide Animal Certificate.

On the Whistler Transit System, only small fur-bearing or feathered pets contained in secure, clean, hand-held cages are permitted on the bus. Cages (hard or soft shell pet carriers) must be small enough to fit on the owner’s lap.

Passengers must hold onto their pet’s cage at all times. If there is room, the passenger may place and hold the cage beside them on the floor. The cage should not block the aisle or restrict other passengers.

We encourage you to bring your pet to the beach during non-peak hours for more space and when parking is free.  Learn more about dog off leash areas at

Yes, gear can be brought onto the Whistler transit vehicles or the Rainbow park shuttle. For information about what you can bring on the Whistler Transit System, visit

Depending on park shuttle occupancy, there may be cargo constraints resulting in having to wait for the next shuttle.  The following items are permitted on the Rainbow Park shuttle:

  • Foldable wheelchairs and compact mobility devices – see note above under “Accessibility”
  • Medium sized bags and backpacks
  • Children’s stroller/trailer
  • Uninflated watercraft
  • Food coolers
  • Fold up chairs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about getting around Whistler:

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