Callaghan favoured for athletes village 

By Clare Ogilvie & Bob Barnett

The Callaghan Valley appears to be the favoured site for an Olympic athletes village, and the land bank legacy that would be left to Whistler.

A document presented by the 2010 Bid Corporation at the May 15 Olympic Infozone meeting in Whistler, titled Planning for the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games, refers to the Callaghan as the site of the paralympic athletes village. It says the paralympic athletes village and the Olympic athletes village would be the same.

Maureen Douglas, director of community relations for the bid corporation, said the Callaghan is currently the working site and is the most logical choice for the athletes village, but it is not signed, sealed and delivered.

"Examining all four sites, this has become the logical arena for both space and long-term use," Douglas said Wednesday.

"Every one of the sites had challenges. It’s also a matter of return on your investment, and at this time the Callaghan has the greatest return on our investment.

"It provides the best legacy," she said.

Four sites were identified as potential locations for an athletes village in Whistler: the Callaghan, Brandywine and the Upper and Lower Cheakamus areas.

The athletes village site is intended to become a community land bank – a site for affordable resident housing and related services – following the 2010 Games. Whistler is in discussions with the provincial government and expects to be awarded the land bank legacy regardless of whether the bid for the 2010 Olympics is successful or not. There were indications the land bank legacy could become available to the municipality in the next 12 months.

Studies have shown the Callaghan and Brandywine sites have the greatest development potential of the four sites – the Callaghan site, at slightly more than 300 acres and relatively flat, has the capacity for more than 8,200 bed units, while the two Cheakamus sites are steeper and have capacity for 2,900 or 3,700 bed units.

However because of the potential size of the Callaghan site it would cost more to develop. Earlier estimates set the price of infrastructure at more than $50 million, compared to $15 million and $27 million for the two Cheakamus sites.

Infrastructure costs in the Callaghan would include a water treatment plant, sanitation treatment plant, sanitation connections, crossings over creeks, a fire hall and trucks, a highway intersection, as well as the development of the housing areas.

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