Olympic rings public art, not 'climbing gym' 

homeowner raises safety concerns with council

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Olympic-sized liability? Council is looking into the concerns of resident Kleo Landucci, who worries about the antics of visitors climbing the Olympic rings.
  • Photo Submitted
  • Olympic-sized liability? Council is looking into the concerns of resident Kleo Landucci, who worries about the antics of visitors climbing the Olympic rings.

Kleo Landucci has never written a letter of concern to a mayor and council before, but seeing a man standing atop the Olympic rings in the village was enough for her to put pen to paper.

"To be honest, we've had it. Because every night that we're up there at our place, the rings are used as yahoo-central late at night, and there's no one around watching," said the Vancouver resident, whose family has owned a place at the Tyndall Stone Lodge since 1996.

Landucci emailed her concerns to council last month, including several pictures taken from her balcony. One shows a man standing at the very top of the middle ring, at least 3.6 metres (12 feet) above the ground, hands spread high above his head in a victory pose.

The picture doesn't show the man's legs shaking as he attempted his feat.

Another shows more than a dozen teens standing beside the rings and on various parts of the rings. It too doesn't show the structure moving under the weight.

"I would hate for Whistler to have a headline saying 'Injury off Olympic rings,'" said Landucci. "It would be the worse thing ever for the person involved and for the town of Whistler."

The daytime problem is exacerbated at night after the bars let out when drunk people climb the rings. Landucci recalled one incident this summer when there were about 10 people on the rings after 2 a.m., each using the structure as a musical instrument for about 45 minutes.

"They're meant to be this terrific tribute to what Whistler has done... and someone's going to get hurt," said Landucci. "It's just a matter of time. It's really not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

It's not about noise, she added. Her family knew, buying in the village, there would be noise. The family doesn't come to Whistler to catch up on sleep, she said.

"I wouldn't be complaining if it was just noise," she added. "I would deal with that. But it's the safety of those rings."

When asked about the safety of the ring structure, Whistler RCMP Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair said:

"The rings are safe for their intended purpose (a visual reminder of Whistler's association with the 2010 Olympic Games... and perhaps a photo op for tourists and locals.) Those who climb on them put themselves at risk, however. The rings were not intended for people to climb."

Landucci doesn't have the answers. But she was impressed with some members of council's quick response to her initial letter.

She said: "They're obviously very interested in the wellbeing of Whistler."

Prompted by her letter, on Tuesday council asked staff to look into the safety and liability issues at the rings, as well as maintenance of the rings such as removing stickers and possibly getting fresh paint.

The municipality's general manager of resort experience Jan Jansen said the Municipal Insurance Association reviewed the installation of the rings and gave its input on how to manage the situation.

He said: "We'll certainly have another look at it and make sure we're in line with those recommendations."

The municipality will also look at maintenance issues.

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