$11,000 each for council member to attend Torino Games 

Staff to investigate alternatives to send more people for less money

Only three members of council will be able to attend the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, at a cost of $11,000 per person.

That $11,000, which is the cost determined by VANOC, does not include plane tickets and expenses and it will be up to the municipality to pick up the tab.

VANOC confirmed this week that the $11,000 would cover 7 days at the Games including ground transportation, a clothing package, tickets for the events, food and accommodation. The accommodation in a three-star hotel runs from 300 to 390 Euros a day (or $440 to $575 per day).

This is the VANOC observer package which gives team members a backstage tour of operations, among other things.

"We’re paying for this," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, who presented the Torino plans at Monday’s council meeting. "It’s not VANOC paying for this."

The remaining four members of council will be attending the Paralympic Games, which will be cheaper.

Vancouver and Richmond are also only sending three members of council to the 2006 Olympics. O’Reilly explained that there are only a finite number of seats available for the VANOC team.

In addition to the mayor attending the games, O’Reilly said the two remaining Olympic seats for Whistler council would be drawn in a lottery system.

Though they supported the plans, councillors also had their own ideas about attending the 2006 Games.

Councillor Ken Melamed said he always believed this is the most important Games for Whistler to attend.

"As the next city to host the games, the lessons to be learned are significant," he said. "It’s critical to witness that."

He added it’s critical for all members of council to witness that and then debrief on what they’ve learned.

He supported the motion to allow just three members of council to attend the Olympics but was shocked at how exorbitant the prices were. Melamed asked staff, with council’s support, to investigate some alternative measures and cheaper ways for council to witness the Games.

"I’m prepared to bus in from the next town if that’s what it takes," he added.

Councillor Nick Davies echoed Melamed’s comments. He said going on the official Olympic junket is not the cheapest way to go and he wanted to start brainstorming ways to get more people to Torino for less money.

But the value may not be in just attending the Games, reminded Councillor Kristi Wells. It is essential to have a look at the host cities before, during and after the Games in order to get a complete picture of how the Games unfold.

Council asked staff to prepare a report which outlines options and plans to attend the Torino Games outside of the $11,000 VANOC requirement.

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