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No military camps in Whistler during the Olympics

But Canadian Forces ‘probably’ housed at Twin Rivers, Cal-Cheak quarries

How many Canadian Forces personnel will be in the Sea to Sky corridor for the Olympics in 2010, and where exactly the military camps will be, are questions that the federal government hasn't yet answered.

But at least one thing is clear: none of the army camps will be located between Function Junction and Emerald Estates.

This week, an official with the 2010 Integrated Security Unit (ISU) said both the B.C. Hydro site near Nesters and Spruce Grove have been scrapped completely from the military's plans.

"The original idea was that both the RCMP and us would put a command and control capability into the Spruce Grove site," said Lieutenant Colonel Graham Thornton from the ISU, an Olympic partnership between the RCMP, Vancouver Police, West Vancouver Police and the Canadian Forces.

"However, there is a daycare next to it, and it has four ball diamonds, which would allow great illumination for night flying, but we felt our helicopters would chew them up in a heartbeat. We opted to go out of town to the south."

Thornton said that the ISU is looking instead at housing military personnel at two sites owned by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation: the Twin Rivers quarry between Whistler and Pemberton and the Cal-Cheak quarry on the Cal-Cheak forest service road south of Whistler.

A camp will also be erected at the Squamish Airport, and the Pemberton airport will have a military "presence," he said.

And another camp is likely to be at the DND Sherman Armory in Richmond, according to a Request for Proposals posted by the federal government.

Thornton could not confirm previous reports that the Sea to Sky corridor camps will hold 1,800 people and cost about $43 million, even though a Defense Construction Canada report from August 2008 outlines these numbers.

He said more plans will be finalized once Exercise Silver, the ISU's first active test in preparation for the Olympics takes place. Exercise Silver runs between Feb. 9 and 13 in Whistler and Vancouver. There will be helicopters, personnel carriers and some military personnel in the area for the exercise.

"There is some sensitivity around that (1,800 number), because the plans are not yet firm," said Thornton.

"The reason we are doing Exercise Silver is to validate the plan, to see what works well and wasn't doesn't work well."

Thornton added that not all the camps will be fully occupied during the Olympic Games period.

"I'm creating enough temporary accommodation facilities to take care of what I view as all possible options," said Thornton.

"As we move people around to suit the changing circumstances, some will probably be occupied only for a period of time."

Thornton said the ISU plans to use six temporary buildings from the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range. The buildings are typically used for fire fighting in the summer months.

"All we have to do is winterize them," he said.

Defense Construction Canada is also reviewing bids from contractors hoping to supply prefabricated, portable buildings and other temporary services for the Canadian Forces. According to the Request for Proposal, the project will cost $33.2 million.