Olympic deadline nearing for Whistler 

Council still waiting to hear about proposed legacies before endorsing bid

When the official bid book for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid is sent to IOC delegates in January of 2003, it will include a wide range of legacy projects and programs for the town of Whistler – but maybe not all of the legacies Whistler has asked for.

"In the coming months we’re going to be asked to sign off on the bid and my feeling at this point is that it might not include a few of the legacies we had hoped for," said Councillor Ken Melamed, addressing the monthly AWARE meeting on Sept. 5.

"We’re in negotiations with the province, but it’s looking less likely as we get closer to the deadline. Whistler council is going to have to decide if we can endorse it without (the legacies)."

The 420-page Vancouver 2010 bid book has to be in the hands of IOC members by Jan. 10, 2003. Before it can be sent out it has to be edited, proof-read, translated into French and printed.

No final publication date has been announced, but principals of the bid agree that the final copy will likely have to completed in November. Whether or not the bid book includes a full endorsement by Whistler council is yet to be determined.

The federal government, provincial government and City of Vancouver have already endorsed the Olympic bid. Locally, both the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Whistler have officially put their support behind the bid. Whistler council is so far the only voice missing.

Whistler is waiting to hear if three key requests for legacies will be given a thumb’s up by the province: a land bank, new "financial tools" and expanded municipal boundaries.

The land bank is essentially a chunk of crown land within municipal boundaries that can be used to build affordable housing and an athlete’s village.

The financial tools requested would most likely be some kind of resort tax that applied to goods or services used by tourists to help pay for things like park maintenance and sewage. Currently the municipality is facing rising operating costs, and its only income comes from property taxes, fees and fines, and a portion of the hotel tax.

The expanded municipal boundaries would include a section of the Callaghan Valley and the Rainbow Mountain watershed. The Callaghan Valley will host the Olympic Nordic events, and is also a preferred site for an athlete’s village and staff housing.

According to Sam Corea, the director of media relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, Whistler is already in line to receive several legacies, including upgrades to the speed and technical ski event venues; a 5,000 seat multiplex sports arena for Paralympic ice events; a bob and luge track on Blackcomb; an athlete’s village that could become staff housing; Nordic facilities in the Callaghan Valley; and transportation options for the Sea to Sky region.

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