Athletes’ village nearing completion 

Now, VANOC is preparing to install temporary components, like social housing

The $18.2 million temporary housing portion of the athletes' village is expected to arrive in Whistler in September, Nejat Sarp of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) said this week, and construction on the athletes' village is wrapping up.

Sarp said the site in the athletes' village for the temporary housing will be prepared over the next four months, with plumbing and electrical services forming the bulk of the work.

The temporary housing will be part of the athletes' centre inside the village during the Games and will house 320 Olympic officials and athletes.

After the Games, the temporary accommodation will be converted into 156 units of permanent social housing and relocated to six B.C. communities outside the Sea to Sky corridor.

"What we are doing in Games time is actually using those units as two-bedroom (units), whereas in the legacy mode, they will be one-bedroom plus a living room area," said Sarp.

The deal between the province and VANOC was created last fall, after the International Olympic Committee asked VANOC to provide more beds in Whistler's athletes' village. It is the first time this type of Olympic legacy is taking place, said Sarp.

Following the Games the buildings will be transported to Chetwynd, Chilliwack, Enderby, Saanich, Sechelt and Surrey and be set up as permanent structures used to house seniors and single mothers.

To fund the project, VANOC is providing $9.4 million and sponsors Britco and Rona are donating approximately $8.8 million in kind by providing the raw materials and building the structures. The province will kick in another $20 million after May 2010 to reconfigure and relocate the buildings to the six communities.

Sarp added even though the buildings will be temporary, they will "look nice."

"One of the things we have to remember with these units is we have to meet IOC requirements. As you can appreciate for the Games, the IOC does not have standards that you can't compromise," said Sarp.

The other housing provided by VANOC within the athletes' centre is a 100-unit lodge, costing $9 million, and 20 townhomes, costing $16 million. Both those structures will remain in Whistler after the Games wrap up to house visiting athletes, cultural groups and educational groups. They will be run by the Whistler 2010 Sports Legacies (WSL2010.)

A $9.3 million high performance centre is also being built for the centre.

Meanwhile, Sarp said construction on the larger athletes' village is moving "very much on schedule, if not actually better than schedule."

He added that Whistler Development Corporation (WDC) will start building other temporary facilities required for Games-time on the site, like a dining hall and transportation mall, in July.

"We are very pleased with the progress, and more importantly, the national Olympic committees absolutely love it," said Sarp.

"In the past there has always been the tendency that people were considering actually staying outside the village (during the Olympics). Now we seem to be getting a lot of support from Olympic committees trying to convince athletes to stay inside the village. I think that speaks volumes."

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