Getting in the Olympic spirit? 

160 people pack into Millennium Place to voice concerns and discuss Whistler's biggest event

click to enlarge Open Forum Mayor Ken Melamed, VANOC CEO John Furlong and Olympic skier Steve Podborski discuss the 2010 Olympics at Whistler's first Olympic town hall meeting last weekend. Photo by Brad Kaeelman, coastphoto.com.
  • Open Forum Mayor Ken Melamed, VANOC CEO John Furlong and Olympic skier Steve Podborski discuss the 2010 Olympics at Whistler's first Olympic town hall meeting last weekend. Photo by Brad Kaeelman, coastphoto.com.

Page 2 of 3

The meeting started off with a presentation by Mary Conibear from VANOC on planning for the Games, followed by both Conibear and Maureen Douglas, director of communications for VANOC, answering questions from the public.

Several of the questions were diverted because they were not directly related to “planning”.

A Dave Letterman-style interview then took place, with Olympic skier Steve Podborski talking to VANOC CEO John Furlong, and Mayor Ken Melamed.

The finale of the open house was an intense, hour-long question and answer period with the public.

According to Melamed, the meeting is part of the municipality’s ongoing commitment to share information on the public about the Games.

“Please don’t hold back,” said Melamed, encouraging people to contact the municipality with any questions they have.

“The more information today, the more opportunity to work through the challenges,” he said.

He added that while Whistler is good at doing events, this is the ‘quintessential event’, and the municipality needs the support of everyone in the community.

Not everyone was satisfied with the answers they got at the meeting.

Local mom and chair of the District Parents Advisory Council Cathy Jewett attended the meeting with four specific questions.

She was quickly shut down when she began asking whether the volunteer age would be lowered to accommodate high school students, which is what parents have been led to believe through the ongoing negotiations with VANOC.

“It was a tightly managed forum that really didn’t allow us the latitude to ask the questions we wanted to ask,” said Jewett of the meeting.

“It didn’t live up to my expectations.”

Council and VANOC representatives were willing to answer several questions about accommodation and transportation and planning processes but Jewett felt she got a terse response to her questions, saying that the meeting had a very narrow focus.

The official word response about the volunteer age was that VANOC has yet to come to final agreements with the school board. Fifteen-year-old students, however, may not be able to participate in the official volunteer program.

“The door isn’t closed by any means,” said Douglas.

Jewett also agreed with Erickson’s comment that there is a lack of spirit in the community about the 2010 Games.

“There’s an attitude of expectation,” she said. “We have to figure out why that is and turn it around before the Games.”

Readers also liked…

Latest in Whistler

More by Claire Piech

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation