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Waffling over WEF

After weeks of intense back and forth debate between proponents and critics of the plan to host the World Economic Forum in Whistler, at last a decision has been made.

After weighing the pros and cons of hosting a global even – the pride and prestige of hosting a global event with the generous backing of the federal and provincial governments verses the disruption of security and its negative impacts on tourism and recreation businesses – municipal council has at last has handed down a resounding "maybe".

If the timing of the conference can be moved from January, peak season, to the slower spring or autumn months;

If the federal government picks up the security tab;

If the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Whistler doesn’t deteriorate into violent protests;

If the WEF doesn’t affect the normal functioning of the resort;

If the WEF’s annual meeting embraces the sustainability principles adopted by Whistler;

If provincial and federal governments chip in $15 million to renovate the Whistler Conference Centre;

Then, and only then, will Council give a thumbs up to the WEF.

It’s quite the grocery list of demands, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it prompted the WEF to pull up its stakes and look for another world class locale to host their annual meeting. After all we’re supposed to be honoured by their generous offer to bring the conference to Whistler, not the other way around. We’re just not awed enough.

So many towns and cities out there would do just about anything to land this conference, but Whistlerites are hard to impress. Maybe if Secretary of State Colin Powell dropped a 70-footer and Archbishop Demond Tutu showed up with a skateboard we’d warm up a little to these world leader types a little. Right now we have nothing in common.

For a town that is built on hard core outdoor recreation, deeds not words, the WEF is really too much talking for the average person to get excited about it.

A citizen’s group mobilized against the WEF and received so much grass roots support many councilors had no choice but to find a compromise which wouldn’t interfere with our peak times for business. Good for them.

As a result ball is back in the WEF’s court. But will they still want to play ball?

Forget the dignitaries and rock stars for moment and think of the payola.

We would get a newly renovated conference centre out of the deal, plus some cash for other village improvements.

We would receive an insane amount of media exposure as reporters – who really couldn’t get a lot of information out of the last WEF meeting because of all the closed doors – turn over every stone in the village just to find something they can file.

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