Death knell sounds for Whistler’s ‘iconic’ roof 

Premier’s plans for similar roof on Robson Square quash hopes

click to enlarge Branching Out Model of Whistler's iconic roof project, which may be in jeopardy after plans were leaked out about a similar design in Vancouver.
  • Branching Out Model of Whistler's iconic roof project, which may be in jeopardy after plans were leaked out about a similar design in Vancouver.

Whistler councillors are fearful that leaked plans from the premier’s office for a large wooden roof structure over an outdoor Vancouver ice rink could jeopardize the resort’s hopes for the “iconic” roof/ice rink at Lot 1/9.

“There’s not going to be any funding leftover for us,” said a disappointed Bob Lorriman.

Whistler’s funding plan for its roof/rink has always relied on financial support from the province. The worry is now that there may only be enough money for one iconic multi-million dollar structure.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who also worked on the sub-committee charged with exploring the possibilities of building the roof, was similarly pessimistic and said it “seemed unlikely” Whistler’s project would move ahead in light of the Vancouver plans.

Despite these worries from councillors, municipal staff said the work would continue as planned with the task force because they haven’t heard otherwise from the province. All the information to date is simply speculation, said spokesperson Diana Waltmann.

The province’s plans are not yet clear. But this week it was revealed in a column in the Vancouver Sun that there were plans for a large wooden structure over the soon-to-be-reopened Robson Square ice rink and they were being fast-tracked through Premier Gordon Campbell’s office.

A spokesperson for the provincial Olympic Secretariat Office said everything at this point is speculation and could not confirm the existence of any plans.

The plans, however, sound almost identical to the $18 million Whistler project, a proposed wooden roof over an outdoor ice rink in the soon-to-be-built Celebration Plaza.

Proponents of each hope to have their projects complete by 2010 to showcase B.C. wood products to the world.

Lorriman said the news of this Robson Square roof is a double edge sword — on the one side it’s nice to know Whistler was on the right track with an idea that would have garnered provincial support.

“The bad news is I think that pretty much kills our chances,” he added.

Whistler’s structure is contingent on funding from outside sources, namely one-third support from the province, one-third from the federal government, with Whistler raising the remainder in fundraising and support from the forestry industry.

“We just liked the idea of promoting B.C. wood,” said Lorriman.

The Whistler models were unveiled to the local community in mid-October, after months of planning and design work.

At that same time rumours began to surface of a similar project quietly moving behind the scenes within the provincial government.

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