Whistler Village – sweet as a nut!

After our time at Richmond on this trip, we spent a few days in the largest ski resort in North America and most visited one in the world, Whistler Blackcomb. I’d been there before, but only for two days trips, one in summer, one in Autumn (or the fall as they call it here). It was really pumping, as it was peak season over Christmas-New Year, so I saw it as full tilt. There wasn’t much snow there when we arrived on New Year’s Day, but some good falls a couple of days later meant we saw it in full winter operation.

Of course, people go there for the skiing, but I spent a lot of time walking around it, and seeing how it works. Purpose built as a resort, it differs from quite a few other Canadian ski towns, like Banff, Revelstoke and Ferny that had a former life as timber or other towns. So Whistler is a planned town, starting in the 1960s, but with the major development in the 80s and 90s. You can read a bit about its planning here, and an early sketch of it from that article is below:

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The resort is focused around its “village stroll” (the brown area in the design above is part of it), the central pedestrian spine that winds its way through the centre. It has a great scale, widens and narrows between 3-4 storey buildings with shopping on the ground level, and often full of people. It goes over roads and water features, and is punctuated by memorable features like the Olympic Rings (celebrating its central roll in the 2010 Winter Olympics). It allows for new vistas to open up as you stroll through, plenty of reasons to stop to shop, eat & drink, and just enjoy the expedience. And in the snow, it takes on a great character. Sweet!

IMG_0859.JPGAnd at night, it is wonderfully lit, so it becomes a real celebration of this place:

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Immediately outside of this wonderful pedestrian core are service roads, major parking lots and major roads carrying a lot of traffic. In the snow, this become tricky to cross and navigate. All necessary to make the place function, no doubt, but it makes for a hard outer shell around the core.

So for me, Whistler Village is like a nut: sweet on the inside, hard on the edge!

Greg Vann
January 2015

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