Letters to the Editor 

Not looking for a handout

To clarify confusion around last week's article on the demise of the Nordic ski legacy, some history is required ( Pique Sept.8, 2011). Callaghan Country was instrumental in supporting the Olympic Games from its inception at the bid stage in May 1998 through to its eventual staging.

In order for the Whistler Olympic Park to be built, Callaghan Country was requested to forfeit all of the land required to do so, from its own cross-country ski area land license that the company had been operating on for twenty years.

As you might well imagine, the loss of prime x-country ski terrain was a tough pill to swallow and was eased only by the benefits the company was assured would flow from the conditions and understandings in the transfer documents. Implicit in all of the agreements was that both organizations (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games "VANOC" and Callaghan Country) would agree to co-operate and that by doing so, both would prosper by working together. Specifically, the Madeley Creek Forest Service Road was agreed to remain as a free access for Callaghan Country guests to access Madeley Lake and the company's tenure area beyond.

VANOC having agreed to this as a condition of the land transfer recognized that co-operation would yield better results and moved forward with the Customer Reciprocal Use Agreement. The basis of the Agreement is quite simple. Each ski area operator covers all its own costs for maintenance and provision of services within its respective tenure area, and retains the revenue at their gate. Skiers displaying valid trail passes from either organization are free to enjoy the full services of both facilities. By working closely together, the two organizations have produced a product that is of exceptional quality and extraordinary value. And as a result, over the course of the past four years, Nordic skier visitation to the Whistler area has increased almost threefold.

Last season Whistler Sports Legacies, the new owners of Whistler Olympic Park, and Callaghan Country decided to experiment with the concept of obtaining better efficiencies of service delivery through the integration of key operational aspects such as ticket sales, parking and grooming. WLS now claims that the cost of providing these services outweighs its benefits but, instead of agreeing to revert back to the original agreement, WSL has decided to revisit and test the original set of understandings that created Whistler Olympic Park and in doing so, has notified Callaghan Country of its intention to erect "physical separations or other means of access control" around its property.

WSL now claims it is not bound by agreements that Callaghan Country had entered into with VANOC. Callaghan Country does not share that belief and welcomes the opportunity to share the contents of those agreements with the taxpayers and residents of British Columbia.


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