As summer approaches (really, look at the calendar) and we head into the July-August political vacuum where few major decisions are made and public interest in issues is limited to vacations, soft ball and what books to read, we’re left to contemplate what we have learned these past 10 months and the enormity of what we still don’t know.
September to June is not only a school year, it’s the period when legislatures sit, when corporations make strategic decisions and, generally, when things get done.
Summer is a time for contemplation. And in Whistler there is one thing that dominates any thoughts about the future: the 2010 Olympic Games.
The Games are still three winters away but families, businesses, full- and part-time residents are all quietly mulling over their plans for February and March 2010, and they still don’t have enough information to make sound decisions.
There will always be questions, and it’s not always possible to provide answers, particularly 32 months prior to an event. But we would all have a better feel for the Olympics if, after a summer of contemplation, VANOC, RMOW, RCMP, IOC and other officials in the alphabet soup could answer some basic questions. Questions such as:
Will Whistler residents be able to drive to the village during the Olympics, and if so, will they be able to park in the village?
How many parking spots will there be?
What will it cost to park?
Will there be increased and/or free bus service around Whistler during the Games?
During the Olympics, will Whistler get any revenue from the day skier parking lots it now owns?
Where will all the buses bringing people from Squamish and Vancouver park after they get to Whistler?
Will corridor residents be allowed to drive up and down Highway 99 at any time of the day or night during the Olympics?
Will there be security checks on the highway?
Will there be security checks on the highway within Whistler?
Will there be an alternative to the highway, such as a train service?
Presumably there will be restricted zones around the Olympic venues and the athletes’ village. How far from the venues will those secured areas extend?
What sort of security check points will there be in the village and the underground parking entrances?
Will there be any restrictions on suppliers delivering to business during the Games?
Is it likely to take longer for services in the village, such as garbage and snow removal, during the Games?
Where will all the extra port-a-potties be located in the village area?
Is there any point in some businesses opening during the Games?
Are those businesses free to rent their space for some other use during the Games?
Will there be any relaxation of licences or bylaws on what can and can’t be sold during the Olympics?
Will kiosks for temporary vendors be allowed in the village or elsewhere?
Do we have any idea how many private functions corporate sponsors and Olympic family members may be contemplating, and the impact this may have on restaurants and clubs?
Is it too late to book a dinner reservation for February 2010?
Will there be a specific plan for getting people to and from the medals ceremonies?
Can I rent my house to someone on a nightly basis during the Games?
Can I invite the family of an Olympian, or foreign visitors, to stay in my house during the Olympics, and if so how do I go about doing this?
Are the schools going to close during the 2010 Games?
What will parents do with their children if the schools are closed and they’re working?
Are there Olympic opportunities for students?
How will the students make up the lost school time?
We’re building a village for all the athletes to stay in during the Olympics but an awful lot of accommodation is needed for others involved in the Games — technicians working for television, data and communications providers; Olympic family members; media; VANOC personnel; security; volunteers; oh, and Whistler employees. When will we have some idea how many beds that will leave for spectators?
We’ve been told that tickets to events will include bus transportation to and from the events, but do we have any idea how many of those ticket holders will be staying in the corridor?
If spectators come up from Vancouver for an event at the Nordic centre, for instance, will they have time or opportunity to get into the village before returning to Vancouver?
If an event is delayed or postponed a day because of weather, can we expect the 5,000 people who had tickets to that event to come pouring into the village looking for something to do?
Do we need to have something for them to do?
What about people who come from around the world, who don’t have tickets to events but just want to be part of the scene? Any guesses on how many they might number, or whether they are going to be discouraged from coming?
The Olympic events that will be held in Whistler — alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, biathlon and sliding events — reflect the Winter Olympic Games’ roots in the Alps and Scandinavia, so one might expect there to be a number of spectators speaking German, French, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish. What sort of language services will we have available for them/us?