Pemberton knew it wasn't getting its security camp - and it knew that for a month before Whistler council decided on Tuesday to approve a Temporary Commercial Use Permit that will allow the camp at Rainbow.
That, at least, is the claim of Todd Severson, Project Director for Contemporary Security Canada (CSC), a consortium that has an approximately $100 million contract with the RCMP and the Canadian government to oversee private security at the 2010 Olympics.
Severson spoke to Pique the morning after the meeting and said the company gave "serious consideration" to Pemberton but at least a month ago notified the proponent, Pemberton Base Camp Limited, that they wouldn't locate in the Pemberton Industrial Park.
"We communicated to the contractor that was proposing to us that we weren't going to continue," he said. "The specifics of that are under a confidentiality agreement with the provider... a bit of concern was the distance, but in the end, the decision was not to go ahead with that."
On Tuesday Whistler council voted 5-2 to grant a temporary use permit for part of the Rainbow site, which will allow CSC to build a housing camp for 1,600 personnel. The permit was issued after the Village of Pemberton issued its own for the Pemberton Industrial Park with the hope that having the personnel in town could bring about $2.5 million to the local economy.
Pemberton officials including Mayor Jordan Sturdy attended the Whistler meeting and left in a huff when council approved the permit - with full knowledge that the camp wouldn't land in Pemberton anyway.
Cam McIvor, a Pemberton entrepreneur and head of Pemberton Base Camp Limited, admitted he knew some time ago that CSC didn't plan to house its personnel in Pemberton but he nevertheless held on to a slim hope that they'd end up in Spud Valley if Whistler didn't approve the temporary permit.
"There was a letter informing that they were not pursuing the Pemberton option and looking at other options, yes," he said. "If they got rejected in Whistler they would have to come back. We have our permits in place and everything identified. If they didn't have a site in Whistler they would have no choice, it would have to be in Pemberton."
But that goes against a claim Severson made in a previous Pique story, where he said that the security company would not locate in Pemberton even if Whistler council rejected the TCUP application. McIvor was nevertheless skeptical about the decision.
"I've never seen an application in Whistler go from application to decision in two weeks," he said.
McIvor applied for a temporary permit to house the camp last March. The Village of Pemberton approved the permit in May.
Sturdy was also aware that CSC was no longer considering Pemberton, but he too held out hope that Whistler would reject the Rainbow camp.
"In order for them to be located anywhere else they'd have to go through the same process as they went through here," he said. "We thought there was an opportunity that still existed."
Sturdy went on to say he made repeated attempts to contact Severson but that he didn't return calls.
Severson would not elaborate beyond "distance concerns" when asked why CSC wouldn't locate in Pemberton. He did, however, say he hopes to organize some day-excursions to Pemberton for security personnel.
"I hope we can continue conversations with the City of Pemberton about having some excursion buses or some way to get our staff to Pemberton," he said. "I remain interested in reach out to Pemberton and see how we can still involve that community and keep them engaged in our camp and have some excursions out to visit the city."
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