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Council confident about 2010 after Park City trip

A recent trip by Whistler council to Park City, one of the venues of the Salt Lake City Olympics, has confirmed that Whistler is well-prepared for 2010 at this early stage in the planning process.

"The tour was really beneficial in a number of different ways," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly at Monday’s council meeting.

"We’re well-prepared. (But) we have lots to do."

A Whistler contingent made up of council and the senior members of the municipality took part in a whirlwind long weekend trip to Utah over the first weekend in October.

The trip was especially important for the three new councillors, who weren’t on council for the previous visit to Utah prior to the 2002 Winter Games.

Councillor Caroline Lamont said the trip made her realize how far along Whistler is in its planning for the Games.

"There may not be an awareness of how far ahead we are," she said, adding that one of the most critical ways Whistler is involved in the planning process is that RMOW Administrator Jim Godfrey sits on the board of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.

At the same time, Lamont also highlighted the fact that Whistler has more responsibilities for the 2010 Games, as opposed to Park City’s involvement in the 2002 Games. Park City for example, never had an athletes village.

Council picked up a number of tips from the Park City trip. They were told not to get too detailed at the early stages of planning. As well, they were told to develop a strategy for keeping Whistler’s name in the forefront.

A meeting with transit officials, who shared the story of a bomb scare during the Games, highlighted the importance of being flexible.

Whistler was also cautioned to plan for after 2010, particularly when it comes to venue development.

"They can make anything happen in 17 days but you want to know that you’re stuff’s going to be appropriate for your community and it has the best opportunity to be successful," said O’Reilly after the meeting.

In addition to learning about the Games, the trip was also a team-building experience for council and the senior staff at municipal hall.

On his return the mayor could say with confidence: "We have done an exceptional job to date."