As of press time Wednesday, it appeared likely the World Cup was still coming to Whistler but the deal wasn’t complete, as we reported last week. The W5 group apparently had a letter of intent from the Hong Kong Bank of Canada regarding the $3 million, interest-free loan it was prepared to provide and which is needed to pay for snowmaking and other infrastructure to put the races on in December. The municipality guaranteed $1.5 million of the $3 million last week, but it turns out the bank wants all $3 million guaranteed. The bank and some members of the W5 group — Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Resort Association, the municipality and the Vancouver Ski Foundation — met Tuesday to discuss terms of the deal and who would be the second guarantor. The municipality has already put its name on the line. The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have the money. The Vancouver Ski Foundation, which has been subsidizing World Cup races at Whistler for years, doesn’t have the money. And the WRA says it doesn’t have the money. That left Whistler Mountain. The Young and Barker families, principal shareholders in the privately owned Whistler Mountain Ski Corp., are, as they say, well off. But their company has had a few unanticipated expenses this year — such as the $14 million it paid for the bankrupt Taluswood project and $6.2 million for a new gondola. Although Whistler Mountain is getting the use of some snowmaking equipment by hosting the World Cup, putting the company name on the line for another $1.5 million in this year can not be an easy decision. If the loan is guaranteed, the Hong Kong Bank of Canada has extended the pay-back terms to 10 years, from five. That will ensure the bank’s name remains associated with the race and festival for twice as long, and it puts less pressure on the W5 group to repay the loan in a hurry. A former president of the Chamber of Commerce maintains that the greatest value of the World Cup is that it brings the whole community together; no other festival or event rallies so many people to focus on one thing like the World Cup. That’s something to keep in mind, assuming Whistler gets the World Cup. And remember who made it possible.


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