Lamont opposes Whistler’s plans for post-Olympics party 

$150,000 would be better spent elsewhere in the community, says councillor

Councillor Grant Lamont thinks the $150,000 that the municipality has pencilled in for a post-Olympic celebration should be spent on something else.

This week, the first-term councillor asked to go on record saying this is not the time or the place for the Resort Municipality of Whistler to be spending that kind of money.

"We just had a really good party and I don't think it is the time to spend $150,000 to pat ourselves on the back," said Lamont. "The Olympics have been a positive thing, a really good thing, but I am just concerned that we could spend that money on something better."

The post-Olympic party has been on the municipality's agenda since September 2008, when the "Investing in the Dream" budget was released.

However, few details about the event have been presented to date. And Whistler's mayor and council still haven't seen a breakdown of where the money will go.

"I don't think it is a good thing to spend that money and I have heard that from a lot of other people as well," said Lamont.

"I would like to see how that money is going to be spent and how they are going to do an RFP on it. To put on a $150,000 party, there has to be a lot of contracts, but I haven't seen any RFPs go out."

Lamont pointed to the B.C. government's cuts to funding for sports, arts and nonprofit groups in the past year. He said the municipality needs to be prepared for more applications for its Community Enrichment Program (CEP) grants - during the council workshop Tuesday - as community groups continue to look for extra funds to sustain their operations.

"We haven't seen them (CEP grant applications) yet, but I am really anticipating a lot of people will be looking for stuff, although we are going to run a tight ship on that as well," said Lamont.

The provincial government significantly cut funding to nonprofit sports and art groups that used to come from its gaming grant program. That is affecting many community programs. Last week, the province announced more money would be put back into the program, although funds would still be down compared to previous years.

Meanwhile, Michele Comeau, manager of communications for the municipality, said details on the "We did it" post-Olympic community celebration should be released in the coming weeks.

"We really feel like it would be great to have the opportunity to come together and celebrate once more as a community and reflect on how great it was and what it meant to all of us in various parts of the community," said Comeau.

"We are definitely looking forward to bringing the Games spirit alive again and finding ways to keep it alive."

According to the Investing in the Dream document, the "We did it" party's $150,000 budget is part of the $8.7 million the municipality will spend on the Winter Olympics, not including Games-time operations. Indirect costs associated with hosting such a large event were not factored into that $8.7 million total.



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