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Open house on Whistlers work March 1

by Craig Gilbert |

If anyone is going to be whistling while they work this winter, it’s them.

Parks Canada officials last week said they expect the contract for the retrofit and renovation of Whistlers Campground just south of the Jasper townsite by the summer.

Worth in excess of $30 million, the project will leave the largest single entry campground in Canada with a decidedly less single entrance, a wider, more pavey ring road, updated utilities and 17 individual washroom/shower complexes strewn about the 780-campsite complex.

On March 1 locals will get their chance to talk with Parks types, see conceptual drawings close-up and feedback on the plan. Just show up at the Chateau Jasper between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. or as the elk call it, happy hour.

Project manager Ryan Hill said the new welcome building at the Whistlers entrance will feature washrooms and six manned kiosks to streamline admissions. He said a study showed that on a peak day, 540 cars passed through the gates between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. They were all processed by just two people.

At 1.4 reservations per minute, that doesn’t leave much time for the human touch, and it doesn’t allow pre-registered campers to skip the queue, defeating at least part of the point of booking in advance. It does leave a lot of time for drivers and passengers to hold it while they wait to get into the campground and get to a privy.

Speaking of.

Each of the new shower buildings will feature three male and three female combined shower/bathroom spaces, plus one family/gender neutral stall. They’ll be spread out so campers won’t have to walk more than 250 metres from their tent or RV to reach one.

Parks communicator Michaela Campbell said 91 percent of campers in Jasper National Park come from within a 500-kilometre radius; nearly two-thirds of them within less than 380 km.

“They’ve been coming back for years,” she said. “A lot of them go back to the same exact campsite, they know how to get there. Now, they’ll be able to go straight to their campsite, which is another huge thing.”

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