Many years from now, the people of Whistler, Squamish, Vancouver and other towns in B.C. may look back on this week as one of the critical points in the development of their communities. As everyone who knows even a smattering of Whistler’s history can tell you, the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California were the inspiration for a Whistler ski area. Following those Games a group of Vancouver businessmen and a Canadian Olympic Association official went looking for a mountain north of Vancouver which could host the 1968 Winter Olympics. Whistler was, of course, developed but lost out to Banff in its quest to be the Canadian bid for the 1968 Games. Whistler won COA approval to go after the 1976 Winter Olympics, but that approval was revoked when the COA endorsed Montreal as Canada’s bid for the 1976 Summer Games. Whistler is probably better off today because it lost both earlier bids. This week, Vancouver-Whistler received a new endorsement from the COA, to bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. There is still a long way to go before the International Olympic Committee decides in 2003 who will be awarded the 2010 Games. But regardless of the success of the Vancouver-Whistler bid internationally, one thing this process has done and should continue to do is get people looking at issues beyond the next couple of years or the next election and working together. For example, the Lower Mainland, the hub of the provincial economy, has some serious transportation issues which provincial and local governments have repeatedly failed to address. Increasingly, those transportation issues extend beyond the Lower Mainland, out the Fraser Valley, certainly up the Sea to Sky Corridor, and into the Interior. The Olympics present an opportunity to address these issues. Whistler, have reached a level of maturity, faces a number of other issues in the next decade: village renewal, new sources of funds for the municipality and the Whistler Resort Association after growth ceases, cultural facilities and secondary industry, to name a few. The Olympics won’t — and shouldn’t — be the final panacea for any of these issues, but they can be a catalyst for solutions. By focusing on 2010, rather than the next election, it’s possible to take a longer-term view of solutions to these issues. It will take co-operation and common dedication but, without sounding too idealistic, that is one of the values of the Olympics. In one of the most astute political moves seen in a while, Whistler invited all the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District directors, including the mayors of Lions Bay, Squamish, Pemberton and Lillooet, to Tuesday’s Olympic announcement in the conference centre. The inclusion of those representatives was more than symbolic; the SLRD directors have been working on a transportation plan for the corridor for over a year, and now everyone knows it. The Squamish Nation has pledged its support in principle for the Games and the In-SHUCK-ch N’Quat’qua can see where the Olympics may fit with their plans. The opportunities that opened up this week are only starting to become apparent.

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