Maxed Out 

A masterful plan for the Callaghan

One thing is becoming perfectly clear in all the hoopla surrounding the 2010 Vancouver Olympic bid. Nothing’s very clear. Murkiness abounds.

Larry Campbell, the newly elected mayor of Vancouver, ran on a promise to hold a referendum – he’s now recast the vote as a Vancouver-wide plebiscite – on the bid. Finally! Now that he’s won, the BidCorp and its supporters are circling the wagons. Preemie Campbell, The Niblet, Jack Poole and various other hangers-on are all saying the same thing, "The time is past to hold a referendum. It’s too late."

While that statement may have a ring of truth to it, it sounds uncomfortably like some guy telling his girlfriend, who’s just announced she’s pregnant, that he’s not ready for fatherhood and maybe they shouldn’t have sex. It’s only too late to have a democratic vote because the people complaining about it being too late are the ones who stubbornly chose not to hold one in the first place. Having engineered an intolerable situation, they shouldn’t be crying it’s intolerable now. Power to da people.

Exemplified in this is the arrogance of business and government. It’s an arrogance inherent in the human condition. It’s paternalism run amok. "We know what’s best for you," which is, after all, an insincere way of saying, "We know what’s best for us and if you know what’s best for you, you’ll just go along with us on this one and keep your mouths shut." The Olympics isn’t about athletic excellence and it’s only marginally about national pride. It’s about money. Money and commerce. Those things are all about power. And we all know what Orwell had to say about power. Oink,oink.

A spillover of this arrogance is playing itself out in the confines of Whistler’s muni hall. The issue is the future development of the Callaghan valley which is to say, the future development of Whistler. Whistler’s been promised – delivered depending on who you ask – 300 acres in the Callaghan as a land bank, one of our Olympic legacies.

One of the best arguments supporting Whistler embracing this gift is enabling the municipality to extend its influence over the Callaghan and shape future development in the area. If we don’t do it, the argument goes, it’s up for grabs, which is to say it’ll be developed by someone who probably has no regard whatsoever for the kind of development we might like to see down there.

Any credence that argument may have had was called into question last Wednesday when The Province published a story concerning a leaked draft document prepared by the government. It outlined the government’s possible strategy to buy the Squamish and Lil’wat bands’ support for the bid. Included in that document was a plan for the "Transfer of Crown lands, including land next to the Nordic Centre, for a native-run hotel and golf course."

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