Going, going… 

Proposal is for Paralympic arena in Squamish, second rink and enhanced athlete centre in Whistler

Trust us.

That’s the message from Whistler’s Mayor Hugh O’Reilly in response to questions about the 5,000-seat Paralympic ice arena being moved out of Whistler to Squamish.

The details of that proposal are not yet public as negotiations continue but the mayor Monday asked for trust in council as they work to find a solution, which works for everyone.

"We’re asking the community to trust us a little bit, that we’re trying to come away with the best options for ourselves long-term and maybe (leave) the legacy for one of the other communities because that’s what partners do," said O’Reilly after Monday’s council meeting.

After reading a prepared statement at the meeting, the mayor later confirmed that council is pursuing an option which would see the Paralympic ice arena being built in Squamish, a second smaller ice rink built in Whistler and a financial contribution towards the athlete centre in the athletes village. While these details are more than what’s been released in recent weeks, there remains a dearth of information about the proposal, particularly the financial aspect of what’s proposed.

Information to date indicates the Vancouver Organizing Committee was to have given Whistler $20 million to help build the arena.

VANOC spokesperson Renée Smith-Valade said this week the $20 million was offered to the RMOW as part of an overall package of facilities in Whistler.

"If the ice sledge hockey arena comes out of that package, then we would have to re-evaluate both location and budget," she said.

Under the new proposal, however, the mayor said most of the money would be staying in Whistler even if the Paralympic arena moves to Squamish.

"We think it’s a win-win situation," he said. "It’s a sharing of the legacies. We’d come away with some fabulous facilities, significant investment is made here and it also contributes to their economy."

O’Reilly’s comments come on the heels of pressure to make public the details of negotiations for the Paralympic ice arena.

"When is the public going to get a look at these options?" pressed community member Bob Lorriman at Monday’s meeting during the public question and answer period. "We’re left out in the dark here."

He later added he was uncomfortable with the way council is moving forward without keeping the public more informed.

"You’ve got to let us know what’s going on so we can trust you," he said. "I think somewhere along the line they should have told us ‘look, we’re having some challenges here, this might not work for us’ and they should have introduced that thought process to us at an earlier stage."


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