Olympic Game Plan ‘turned a corner’ 

Most transportation, security questions answered at Whistler meeting

For months Whistler has struggled with Olympic anxiety and angst.

But it looks like the latest Olympic update, hosted last week by the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC), the municipality, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, and the Integrated Security Unit, may have helped change the mood for the better.

"I think as a result of Wednesday's Game Plan meeting I sensed that we turned a corner," said chamber president Fiona Famulak.

"We are moving into the next phase, which I think is a positive phase."

Famulak believes that businesses are now getting the information they need to plan for Games time. And, she said, it is available in variety of ways through a variety of different organizations making it more accessible.

The change was evident with the increase and change in tone in the calls received by the chamber the day after the meeting, which drew over 300 people.

"...It is quite noticeable that since Thursday morning, the day after, we have received very positive feedback from our membership and the tone of the calls that we are receiving now is more upbeat and more positive and the type of questions are more specific, which is good," said Famulak.

She isn't alone in her perceptions.

Ben Thomas of VIP Mountain Holidays observed the same sea-change.

"I think we have turned the corner," he said this week.

"I really got the feeling that this meeting helped people get over that hurdle (of not feeling good about the Games).

"I think absolutely the meeting was a very crucial one and it could have gone the other way if they had not given the information needed. We would have had another pay parking situation on our hands."

(Recently Whistler citizens voiced outrage over council's decision to introduce pay parking. Many felt there was not enough information and public consultation on the issue.)

While accepting that there was not much new information at the meeting, Thomas said presenting it in a clear way at one forum has helped dispel many myths, including that the highway will be closed, that residents will not be able to get around, that businesses will be unable to operate, that visitors and residents will not be able to walk around town without going through security, or that Whistler Blackcomb will not be open for skiing and boarding.

"Most of this information has been out there but people don't go into the right websites to look for it themselves and so this time it was given to them in plain English and that makes all the difference," said Thomas.

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