Many in community still want referendum on hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games 

Council moves ahead with endorsement despite on-going calls for community vote.

There were more calls for a referendum on the Olympics this week even as Whistler council finally endorsed the bid at the end of a five-and-a-half hour council meeting at the Chateau Whistler.

The community has been "deprived of a public hearing on this issue," said local Casey Niewerth reiterating his call for a vote on the Games.

"The issue is that this is not your call. It is up to the community.

"You cannot railroad through an issue of this scale without putting it to a plebiscite. Failing to accommodate us will hopefully cost you your jobs."

Others asked the vote be delayed or a question be added to the Nov. 16 municipal election ballot.

But after an hour long presentation by Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, an hour-long presentation by the Olympic bid’s Terry Wright, and a couple of hours of public comments and questions from an audience of 400, council voted five to one Monday to endorse the bid.

The lone dissenter, Ken Melamed, said he could not stand behind the bid because he felt it failed to shield the community from some serious issues.

"At this time I do not believe we have sufficient safeguards to withstand the coming pressure that the bid brings," he said.

"I would like to see a number of policies put in place to put those safeguards in place. Locally we need an affordability strategy. We need a workable teardown policy and we need to have a new integrated capped growth employee housing strategy.

"If we as a community, in good faith, were to endorse the Olympic bid tonight what assurance would we have from tomorrow onwards that senior governments, who are providing the major funding, will not unilaterally do what they please, as has happened with virtually every past Olympic bid in the world?

"As councillors representing our constituents what assurance do we have that our Vancouver-Whistler bid criteria will continue to be respected?"

Melamed is concerned that several components of the bid may not be in the best interests of the community. He questioned the plan to build employee-restricted housing in the Callaghan, the site of a 300 acre land bank negotiated by the municipality as part of the legacy package from the provincial government.

"Is a satellite resident housing project down valley integration or segregation?" asked Melamed rhetorically.

"Will it mitigate the effects or does it in fact entrench us firmly on that path. "The proposed employee housing, which is needed now in Whistler not eight years out and down valley, comes with a $30 million enticement to what I believe will become a post games subsidy and commits us to the dilution of Whistler’s soul."


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