Olympic planning continues…

“It’s normally very hard to get people out and to start thinking operational. They have a tendency to continue to plan — to get them to move out from their offices and start thinking of the operation, you almost have to throw them out.”

– Petter Ronningen, chief operating officer for the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, February 2007


“Council will be focusing the rest of their term on improving Whistler's air quality and finalizing the operational planning for the 2010 Winter Games.”

– RMOW press release July 24, 2007


I didn’t see the presentation to Whistler council last week of the 2010 Winter Games Strategic Framework quarterly update. I’ve only seen the slide presentation that is on the municipal website, so any additional context that was provided to council in the presentation by Whistler’s Olympic point man Jim Godfrey and representatives from Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Chamber of Commerce is missing from these comments.

But the information that is included in the slide presentation, which is presumably the key points, does nothing to dispel the notion that there remains a fundamental disconnect between Whistler’s planning for the 2010 Olympics and the people of Whistler.

Certainly, there are lots of things expected to happen on the Olympic front this fall: a manager of communication and community engagement will be hired; guest speakers will be coming to town; there will be opportunities for the community to provide feedback on the Games, version two of the Winter Games Strategic Framework will be released; and the school board will make a decision on whether to keep schools open during the Games or close them. For businesses, there have been seminars on becoming a supplier to VANOC, on licensing opportunities and, coming next week, a registry for restaurants and clubs that may decide to rent their space and services for private functions during the Olympics.

But I keep coming back to the blissful indifference so many Whistler people continue to show toward the 2010 Olympics, to Petter Ronningen’s comments and to last week’s 2010 Winter Games Strategic Framework quarterly update. Overlooking the fact that this quarterly update comes nine months after the previous quarterly update, it envisions three more years of planning.

To be fair — and this is where I may be missing context provided in the live presentation — the next three years of planning do include some mention of operation. Specifically, the most recent Strategic Framework calls for concept planning and public engagement from October 2007 to February 2008; Detailed planning and public engagement from October 2008 to January 2009, including operational outlines and expanded detail on things like transportation, site access, public safety and security; and Games readiness planning from September to November 2009, which will (finally) include complete Games-time details.

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