Feature - Keeping the faith 

After a year in operation Millennium Place is still a mystery to much of the community

Maurice Young Millennium Place and those who run it are on a mission.

They want to "challenge, engage and stimulate (the) community to explore (its) imagination and to develop (its) creativity, spiritual and intellectual awareness."

But unless you know someone who knows someone at MY Place its unlikely you would know about its mission and even less likely you would know how it will be achieved.

"I know it's a theatre and a church," said one local who didn't want to give her name because she was embarrassed not to more about the $7.4 million project which opened its doors to the public just over a year ago.

"And it has a daycare centre, but just for the kids of those who go to the church, right?" she asked.

Wrong.

It's for everyone, although it focuses on the locals.

"I know I should know more, especially since the muni paid it for," the local added as she started to walk away on a mission of her own: to find out more about Millennium Place.

One of the first things she would have found out was that the Resort Municipality of Whistler did not pay for MY Place.

Volunteers, people committed to bringing art, culture and spirituality to Whistler, have worked tirelessly for years to raise $5.4 million, making this the largest capital project by far for the resort. They still need to raise about $2 million.

While council supports MY Place its only financial contributions have been grants in aid totalling $450,000 to cover municipal development cost charges and interim funding.

The municipality has also guaranteed the $3.5 million short-term mortgage the Whistler Skiers Chapel Society sought and received to finish the project after fundraising stalled due to the global recession and the after effects of the terrorist attacks on the US last September.

The municipality does not pay the mortgage. It will be paid off by the Chapel Society using donated money in million-dollar instalments over the next two years. The first payment is due in April 2003.

The Chapel Society owns the building and leases it to Millennium Place.

The group developing the BC Rail lands has promised the society $1 million from an organization it started, The Scotia Creek Foundation. The foundation was started to raise money in the resort.

"What I am trying to do is not have dependency on the municipality," said Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, a key fundraiser for the project and frequent attendee at events in the centre.

"To think that we have raised five-and-a-half million dollars is very significant and I think everyone who has contributed should be congratulated.

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