Athletes’ village may be Games’ biggest legacy 

Sustainability built into every aspect of Whistler facility

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Whistlerites will judge for themselves the legacies and sustainability of the 2010 Winter Olympics, but officials held up the athletes' village as a prime example of those qualities during a media tour Aug. 20.

"This village is a legacy. It's here for a purpose - to house Whistler residents," said Dan Doyle, VANOC executive vice president, construction.

Doyle called the Whistler Athletes' Village "one of the most sustainable sites in the Olympics.

"Special thanks to the Resort Municipality of Whistler for having the vision to build this," he added.

The athletes' village, most of which will become resident-restricted housing in a neighbourhood known as Cheakamus Crossing following the Games, is 95 per cent complete and on schedule for an October handover to VANOC. It is a mix of housing styles and sizes. Most of the units are townhomes, while some could be classified as apartments.

Eric Martin, a board member of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation, the municipal corporation responsible for building the athletes' village, also praised past Whistler councils for their vision.

"This could have been temporary housing, but the RMOW had this vision," said Martin. He said Cheakamus Crossing would be "a legacy for a long time to come."

Martin also praised "the people that had the faith in us, the purchasers of these homes."

More than 200 of the 295 townhomes and apartments have been bought by Whistler residents. Following the Games, an additional 55 units will become rooms in a building operated by Hosteling International Canada.

Martin said having a number of different contractors involved in building the athletes' village, rather than one large company, benefited many people.

"Our objective here was to be risk averse," he said. "We didn't put all our eggs in one basket."

By using a number of different builders, each with their own subcontractors - 95 per cent of whom were from the Sea to Sky corridor - the risks were spread wide, Martin suggested. There were no labour issues and none of the companies involved in construction went bankrupt during the building. If a company did have financial trouble, it would have been relatively easy to compensate.

Martin said if one company had been contracted to build the entire village it probably would have been Intrawest.

Intrawest is not involved in the Whistler Athletes' Village but its parent company, Fortress Investment Group, originally financed the troubled Vancouver Athletes' Village.

The district heating system, which uses recovered heat from the nearby sewage treatment plant to warm buildings, is one example of the sustainability of the Whistler Athletes' Village. But the concept that most of the units will be owned by Whistler residents, who might chose to live elsewhere if the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood wasn't available to them at a subsidized rate, is another example of sustainability.

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