Pemberton park and ride offers no legacy 

Pemberton has its park and ride but it will serve no purpose beyond its Olympic obligations.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy confirmed to Pique last week that VANOC has agreed to finance a temporary park and ride facility on the village's Wye lands property, located behind municipal hall on Prospect Street.

Village officials initially hoped a park and ride facility could be a legacy from the Games as part of a downtown enhancement project but that just won't happen, according to the mayor.

"It doesn't unfortunately really provide us with any legacy," he said. "The goal here was to ensure that the local taxpayer is not subsidizing the operation of the Olympics and I think we've achieved that."

In total the park and ride could accommodate up to 300 vehicles but Sturdy said it's possible there will be more.

"I'm confident we have the space we need to park up to 500 cars," he said.

Though the facility is being built, no one will come forward to admit how much it will cost, or who's paying what share. Sturdy said the village is contributing staff time to make it happen and said taxpayers are "not subsidizing" the cost of the facility.

"We're going to be administering it, we're responsible for snow clearing and that kind of thing," he said. "We've assessed our cost and are confident that we can operate the facility within the budget that we have agreed to."

Sheena Fraser, manager of administrative services with the Village of Pemberton, said there will be no cost to Pemberton taxpayers but she, like Sturdy, wouldn't disclose the budget or how much VANOC is contributing. She said budget figures are part of contract negotiations with the organizing committee.

VANOC wouldn't comment on its contributions to the park and ride, calling it "private information" and also wouldn't say what the Village of Pemberton is contributing.

The park and ride facility comes just a week after Sturdy sent a strongly-worded letter to VANOC CEO John Furlong that accused the committee of "dropping the ball" on what the mayor called a major planning priority in refusing to fund a park and ride in Pemberton.

The three-page letter had Sturdy saying that Pemberton won't get a single legacy from the Olympic Games despite a commitment from VANOC to council in 2003 that it would get something back when the Games were finished.

That commitment came under a previous council, overseen by Mayor Elinor Warner. Reached via e-mail, she said she did not recall any meeting where the village was promised a legacy.

The park and ride is the last of at least three attempts by the Village of Pemberton to secure a legacy for the community. It first tried last winter to take in the Jamaican bobsled team as guests at the Copperdome Lodge while the team trained to compete at the Olympics. The team later opted to train in Utah because it couldn't get training time at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Then the village tried to house security personnel in trailers at its industrial park. Contemporary Security Canada opted to locate at the Rainbow neighbourhood in Whistler due to proximity issues.

VANOC initially told Pemberton that it didn't want to contribute financially to a park and ride but that changed shortly after Sturdy sent his letter.



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