Unaccredited media, Norway House to take over MY Place 

Tourism Whistler prepares to showcase Whistler to the world

Tourism Whistler is getting ready to tell Whistler's stories to the world's unaccredited media, who will be setting up shop at MY Millennium Place during the Olympics.

Casey Vanden Heuvel, director of communications for Tourism Whistler, confirmed this week that they are working on agreements with critical media outlets across the world, including CNN, ESPN and Associated Press TV.

"They'll provide tremendous reach," he said.

Tourism Whistler predicts there could be about 1,000 unaccredited media in the resort.

And they won't just be in Whistler covering the Games if Tourism Whistler and its partners have anything to say about it. Rather, they'll have easy access and help finding the other stories here - stories of the legacies of the Games, the history of the resort, the characters who live here.

There is an agreement in principle between Tourism Whistler and the municipality, owners of the multi-purpose MY Place building in village core, for use of the building as the Whistler Media House from Feb. 1 to 28.

"By far and wide, over and over, we hear that tourism and in particular awareness building for a community is the top benefit that's been seen (from hosting a Games)," said Michele Comeau, communications manager for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

"Providing the facility for media to build that awareness is something that's definitely been recommended to capitalize on as much as possible, and to facilitate as much as possible.

The municipality will not be charging Tourism Whistler rent for the space. It will, however, make some money charging out the 1,500 square foot Teddy Bear Daycare in the same building.

That space will be Norway House during the Games, according to a memorandum of understanding between the parties. The agreement has not been finalized.

"It provides an opportunity for them to have a small space in Whistler," said Comeau.

The daycare, along with all the other tenants of Millennium Place, will be moved out during the Olympic blackout period.

The Whistler Media House will offer much the same services as the official media hub for the accredited media at the conference centre; it will be a full service broadcasting facility, fully wired with networking and operating space.

It is not set up to operate like that as of yet. Neither are the stand-up locations for the TV broadcasters dispersed throughout the village. Tourism Whistler, in conjunction with partners Tourism B.C. and the Canadian Tourism Commission, will be paying to ensure the building and the stand up sights are operational for unaccredited media.

"We're working toward an equal funding partnership between the three parties," said Vanden Heuvel.

The province, on the other hand, is funding the Vancouver unaccredited media centre. At one time it was to fund the Whistler location too.

In early 2008, Whistler was informed that it would have to provide that service independent of the province.

"We were sort of left to fend for ourselves," said Vanden Heuvel. "We're definitely making lemonade out of those lemons."

Only one official broadcaster from each country receives official accreditation for the Whistler Media Centre at the conference centre. The rest will be operating at Whistler Media House.

Tourism Whistler is also putting on a media bus to shuttle unaccredited media from Vancouver to Whistler daily.

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