By Clare Ogilvie
The Whistler Legacies Society and the City of Richmond will get millions of dollars annually from the federal and provincial government to help support the cost of running Olympic venues after the 2010 Winter Games are over.
This week Premier Gordon Campbell announced at the site of the Richmond Speed Skating Oval how the Legacy Endowment Fund created in late 2002 would be divided, with 40 per cent of the funds going to support the Richmond Oval, 40 per cent going to the Whistler venues, and 20 per cent being kept as a contingency fund.
“We are hopeful that this Games Operating Trust will provide support for the facilities not just leading up to the 2010 (Olympics) but well beyond 2010 so that they are giving to the next generation of athletes in the way we are trying to give to this generation of athletes,” said Campbell.
The Whistler venues will be managed by the Whistler Legacies Society (WLS), which has several stakeholders including government, first nations, and sport representatives.
Asked if Whistler’s share was enough to support two legacy facilities as compared to one venue in Richmond, WLS board member and Lil’wat representative Lyle Leo said: “We have no concerns at this point… (but) we are still detailing the business plans.”
WLS, which was incorporated March 14, will also manage the athlete’s centre at the site of the Whistler Athletes’ Village.
Leo hopes the business plans will be ready by the end of 2007. Once they are complete, said Leo, the WLS will be able to look to future sponsorship partnerships after the Games.
“This announcement gives us some financial security,” said Leo.
“The Games Operating Trust is one of the most crucial legacies for the 2010 Games to those of us in the Sea to Sky corridor. This enables us to move forward in developing a business model that will ensure financial stability of two key resources in the corridor which we will own and operate.
“The WLS is confident that the sliding centre and the Nordic centre will become main attractions in the province post-Games, offering excellent training opportunities for current and future athletes and first rate tourist amenities for visitors.”
The money flows from the Games Operating Trust (GOT) set up in 2002 by the province and the federal government. Each contributed $55 million to support the $178 million Richmond Olympic skating oval, the $104.9 million Whistler Sliding Centre, and the $119.7 million Whistler Nordic Centre after the 2010 Winter Games.
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