IOC prefers Cheakamus South site for athletes village 

Council to be presented with site recommendation this month

The International Olympic Committee has put Cheakamus South at the top of their wish list as the site for Whistler’s athletes village.

John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver 2010 Games Organizing Committee (VANOC), confirmed Monday the Cheakamus South area is the site the IOC would prefer.

"It’s a good site," he said.

"It’s right in the heart of the Olympic plan in Whistler."

But Furlong was also quick to point out that ultimately the decision on the location of the athletes village lies with the community.

"The decision is really the community’s in co-operation with the IOC," he said.

That decision should be coming this month.

On Monday, June 21 municipal staff expect to present council with a recommendation on Whistler’s preferred site for the village.

There are two sites on the table. They are Cheakamus South and the Rainbow lands in between Alpine and Emerald.

The municipal planning department is now examining both sites from a community planning perspective to see which is best for Whistler post-Games.

Parts of the athletes village will eventually become resident housing for Whistler employees. This was part of a deal the resort negotiated during the bid process of the Olympics.

"We still get to choose," reiterated Mayor Hugh O’Reilly at an informal community meeting put on by the Whistler Forum last week.

"We think both sites are excellent and we expect both will be developed at some point."

He added that a key point in favour of the Cheakamus South site is that it’s on Crown land. The Rainbow lands, on the other hand, are privately owned. Choosing the Cheakamus site would remove third party negotiations with private landowners.

Located next to the landfill, Cheakamus South has always been the backup plan for the Olympic Village in Whistler, coming second to the Callaghan Valley site, 13 kilometres south of Whistler.

Last winter, after considerable community consultation, the Callaghan was rejected as the athletes village site as residents and second homeowners favoured putting future resident housing in the existing developed corridor between Function Junction and Emerald Estates.

Armed with that information council asked staff for an assessment of other potential sites that would satisfy the infill option.

Among the areas studied were the Whistler Golf Course, the Zen lands north of Function Junction, the Rainbow site on the north end of Whistler and a piece of land between the Montebello townhomes and the highway.

Each was reviewed under the specific constraints of an Olympic village, such as security concerns and transportation issues.

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