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FAQ

An incomplete guide of all the things you’ve been itching to know about Whistler, but were too polite to ask.

Shall we begin with the name?

There’s no better way to begin. This question never gets old because it gives us a reason to talk about marmots. Whistler Mountain used to be called London Mountain, named so by British Naval surveyors in the 1860s. Its nickname however was “Whistler” because of the whistle from the Western Hoary Marmots living among the rocks. It’s a little catchier than London Mountain, don’t you think?

How old is Whistler?

Officially, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (the RMOW) turns 40 years old this September. The town was incorporated on September 6, 1975. Now, we wouldn’t be Whistler if we weren’t planning on marking that occasion with a shindig! Plans are in the works for a 40th anniversary party this September. Keep your ears open for details and plan to celebrate with us.

Enough about the history, I can go to the museum for that. How can I find out what’s going on in town while I’m visiting?

Not to toot our own horn but our sister publication Pique Newsmagazine is the go-to source, keeping you up to date on local events, nightlife and the news. It comes out every Thursday morning, delivered to newspaper boxes around town. If you want to know what the locals are talking about… look no further than the Pique. And, it’s free. You can also head to the Whistler Visitor Centre in the village where friendly staff are on hand to help.

Good to know about all the events but what I’m really concerned about are the bears! What should I do if I run into a bear?

Respect bears! Give them plenty of space and never approach them. No one should ever feed, pet or pose for a photo with a bear. Take pictures with a telephoto lens from a distance. Learn all you can at www.bearsmart.com. To report a human/bear conflict, call: 604-905-BEAR (2327).

How can I stay safe in bear country?

It never hurts to sing a tune and whistle as you walk along the trails. It lets the bears know you’re near. Never feed a bear, either intentionally or unintentionally. All garbage must be disposed of in bear-proof containers. In Whistler, it’s the law! Bear-proof containers are located throughout the village, municipal parks and the Valley Trail.

Alright, but how do I open the bear-proof containers?

It may not look like the kind of garbage bins you’re used to but it’s easy. Just stick your hand in the latch and lift up. Our local bears are clever and unfortunately they have figured out how to open doors and windows and fridges. But they haven’t figured out this one.

Where can I check out the free concerts?

Follow the sounds to Whistler Olympic Plaza. This is where you’ll find the outdoor stage and a wide expanse of grass, perfect for taking in an evening concert as the sun sets behind the mountains. There are free concerts most summer weekends. Check out our calendar of events in FAQ for more info.

What’s the scoop on tipping?

The general rule of thumb in Whistler, and the rest of Canada, is 15 per cent — more if the service is outstanding. Some restaurants will add on a tip for large parties. Check your bill to see if the tip is already included.

Where do all the locals live?

Right here! A large percentage of Whistler’s workforce lives right here in town, in the neighbourhoods scattered off the Sea to Sky Highway north and south of the village. That’s unusual in world-class ski resorts where the cost of housing often far outstrips earning power and workers are often relegated to bedroom communities. This is another part of Whistler’s charm — it always feels like a bustling ski town with a permanent population of roughly 10,000 people.

What is the name of the giant rock column sticking out of the mountain south of Whistler?

That’s Black Tusk. Aptly named, to be sure. It’s a member of a chain of volcanic peaks that run from southwestern B.C. to northern California and it’s located in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

What is WORCA?

This is our 26-year-old bike club — the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association. We’re very proud of it. With 1,800 members, it’s one of the biggest bike clubs in North America. It’s a volunteer organization with a mandate that includes maintaining hundreds of kilometres of local trails. All are welcome to join in the weekly Toonie Rides ($2 a week). You need to be a member of WORCA to participate for insurance reasons.

Should I go swimming if I see a sign for swimmer’s itch?

Swimmer’s itch is a temporary, itchy rash caused by microscopic parasites passed between water fowl and certain snails. It is not related to the quality of the water but the resort municipality will post signs at the local beaches if there are reports of swimmer’s itch. It’s perfectly safe to swim, but think about staying clear of areas with weed growth. Swimming off a dock will cut down the risk. Also think about wearing waterproof sunscreen and towel off vigorously or take a shower immediately after leaving the water. There are outdoor showers at Lost Lake, Wayside, Lakeside and Rainbow Parks.

If I get something a little more serious than swimmer’s itch, what do I do?

There are walk-in clinics and doctors’ offices in Whistler. There is also the Whistler Health Care Centre, which has a fully staffed emergency department. It’s on Lorimer Road. You can’t stay overnight but it’s open until 10 p.m. There are doctors on call throughout the night.

What are the big, colourful tarps covering in the middle of the parking lots?

We were hoping you’d ask! This is one of the most exciting projects in Whistler’s history. It’s called the Audain Art Museum. It will be home to philanthropist/developer Michael Audain’s private art collection, which includes one of the best Emily Carr collections and a gallery devoted to West Coast artist Edward J. Hughes. The new museum will be a 56,000 square foot facility and is set to open Nov. 21, 2015. That gives you another reason to come back to Whistler to visit!

What’s the Top of the World trail?

This is a unique alpine trail that starts at the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain and gives you 347 metres of vertical (1,091 feet). Like A-Line in the heart of the bike park, Top of the World is for advanced riders. This trail is well worth the gondola and chairlift ride to the peak.

Where are the best places to see the alpine wildflowers?

The High Note Trail on Whistler Mountain. Take it to the grassy meadows of the south flank of Whistler. On Blackcomb, take Lakeside Loop Trail.

Anything else new on the horizon?

A $30 million plus art facility isn’t enough? Fair enough. We wouldn’t be Whistler if there wasn’t something else in the hopper. Plans are in the works for a BMX track at Bayly Park. There is also major work underway for an $800,000 upgrade to the skateboard park in the heart of the village. Whistler Blackcomb is always up to something new too. Keep your eyes peeled on that world-class bike park. A little further afield in our backyard playground are plans for the Spearhead Hut Traverse — a winter and summer time trail that will take you from hut-to-hut in the backcountry. So, there you have it. There’s always a reason to come back to Whistler.