Athletes' village construction back on track 

On schedule for '09 completion

Despite the delays in getting final approval and some minor delays due to the forest fire hazard the Whistler Athletes’ Village construction is on pace for the season.

The work got underway on July 19 with logging crews clearing the main village areas and housing lots. When completed the village will occupy roughly 30 hectares, but only 10 hectares had to be cleared.

The next stage involves building roads and flattening out the areas where residences and buildings will be constructed. The municipality is currently tendering a contract to start blasting in the area. That contract will close this week.

Neil Godfrey, vice president of development for the athletes’ village, says the project is back on the original schedule for completion by 2009.

There were a few delays as Whistler and the provincial government renegotiated the sharing of construction costs in light of rising material and labour prices, as well as a further one-month delay to get the necessary environmental approvals.

"What we were hoping for this year is to clear the site, get the roads and building pads leveled in and the earthwork and blasting completed," said Godfrey. "Next year we’ll start putting pipes in the ground and getting to work on foundations. Even if we started earlier without any delays I don’t know if we would have been able to get more done this season. We’re getting done everything we hoped to get done this year."

Although blasting should get underway later in the month, Godfrey doesn’t expect many disruptions. The Ridge Trail in the Interpretive Forest was temporarily closed during the logging operations, and there may be some additional trail and road closures during the blasting, but otherwise the area remains open to hikers, runners and bikers.

Godfrey expects one blast per day followed by clearing, and says there will be minimum noise for businesses in nearby Function Junction.

An official project launch was expected to take place last week during a VANOC site tour, but due to conflicting schedules the launch will be delayed until a date can be confirmed with representatives from the provincial government.

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