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Squamish says yes to arena

Squamish wants the Paralympic ice arena that was once slated for Whistler.

Mayor Ian Sutherland confirmed this week that Squamish sent a notice of their decision to both Whistler and the Vancouver Organizing Committee on Wednesday. It’s now up to Whistler to accept it or reject it.

"(We) would love to do it," said Sutherland simply.

Though he would not release any details about the arena development in his town, he did say they have come up with a financial model that could work for them.

In order for it to work, Squamish needs a Junior A hockey team. They have verbal confirmation that the Chilliwack Chiefs would move to Squamish and play out of the new 5,000-seat arena.

VANOC had promised Whistler $20 million to build the facility in the resort.

It is not clear how much money VANOC will give to Squamish as part of this potential new deal.

However, if the arena moves south, VANOC will provide Whistler with funds for a second ice sheet in the resort, most likely to be built at Meadow Park, as well as financial contribution to the athletes centre in the athletes village.

The final decision now rests in Whistler council’s hands.

The Paralympic arena was expected to go on Lot 1/Lot 9 in the village. But after a financial analysis and a KPMG report that said an arena of that size may not necessarily drive more visitors to the resort, council began exploring other options.

One of those options was to move the facility to Squamish, where it would be cheaper to build.

Council will receive a staff report at the Aug. 15 meeting outlining in detail all of the information about the arena. They will not make their decision at that time but will hold a public open house so that members of the community can comment on the proposal.

Council will make their final decision at the Sept. 6 meeting.