Another type of legacy sought for Lot 1/9 

Task force work continues, community input will be sought

Just because there won’t be a Paralympic ice arena in the village doesn’t mean there won’t ever be ice-skating on Lot 1/9.

What happens on that piece of land is still up for discussion.

And with $4.2 million in funding from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games, there will be an Olympic legacy on that site.

"I’m really excited that we’re going to have something on Lot 1/9 that in 20 years from now people are going to come by and plop their kids there and take a picture to remember the 2010 Olympics..." said Councillor Bob Lorriman. "I think we’re going to have a tourist legacy, if you will, on that spot."

Lorriman was the council representative on the 11-member task force charged with looking at the best use of the village site, utilizing the $20 million leveraged from VANOC for the Paralympic arena.

It was a difficult task to be sure.

When asked what they wanted, the community was clear; they wanted an iconic building, a place that maximized the views and sunlight, a place that was "weather-shielded" but at the same time open to the elements and connected to nature.

They wanted a gathering spot for locals and guests. They were looking for space for some non-profit groups and they hoped the arena could be a multi-use facility, a place that could transform from a sledge hockey arena to a conference centre/concert hall/exhibition space.

In the end it was all too much.

The cost: $64.7 million.

Remember, said task force member Greg Newton, the community also asked that the arena not be a financial burden.

"We just didn’t feel we could recommend going to the people of Whistler, the taxpayers, and borrowing that money," he said.

None of the task force members interviewed this week had the cost breakdown itemizing the hard and soft costs for the facility.

The municipality is releasing a report detailing those costs for Tuesday’s council meeting. It is not clear this week why the arena cost so much or what was included in the $60 million-plus price tag.

Mayor Ken Melamed said council didn’t see the cost breakdown in detail and were only presented with the macro costs. But he acknowledged there is a higher cost to doing business in Whistler.

"You’ve got the Whistler factor of higher costs and you’ve got the Whistler engineering snow load requirement which you can imagine on a roof span that size gets exponentially higher," he said.

And there are also the village design guidelines.

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