Questions and solutions for Whistler Events Bureau 

Executive Director announcement due soon

Everyone agrees that it is a good idea in principle, but in the wake of failed negotiations to find a producer for the Crankworx bike festival several event organizers and now some councillors are asking more questions about the role of the Whistler Events Bureau.

A month ago Pique Newsmagazine revealed that negotiations between W1, the company that runs the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and the WEB to produce Crankworx had stopped.

WEB is continuing to move ahead with plans for the Crankworx festival, Aug. 3-7.

W1 Director Doug Perry decided against finalizing a deal with WEB for Crankworx because he felt that WEB had "changed the rules" in the telecommunications category to accommodate Telus as a major sponsor.

"W1's only condition was that WEB would not ‘block’ sponsorship categories," Perry said, although incumbent resort partners would be given first right of refusal. "In a sharp reversal, (after one partner signed a $30 million telecommunications deal) WEB blocked its first major sponsorship category."

Central to the failed negotiations, and which was not made public at the time, was a Canada-wide $30 million telecommunications deal between Telus and Intrawest, parent company of Whistler-Blackcomb.

Whistler-Blackcomb is one of the three partners in WEB. The other two stakeholders are Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. All three partners must take into account the responsibilities each stakeholder has to its sponsors.

WEB was created two years ago to stimulate events in Whistler and to ensure that there wasn’t any conflicting sponsorship deals with event producers.

But according to Whistler councillor Caroline Lamont the concept of WEB has become confusing, deadlines are being missed and the people involved appear to be getting overwhelmed with what they have created.

"My husband (WORCA President Grant Lamont) has been involved in mountain biking… so I am aware of what’s going on and it seems extremely unfortunate," said Lamont.

"(The Whistler council) have asked for something on WEB at the council table but there’s always five sides to the story.

"It’s unfortunate because what we were told when WEB was introduced was that it would be to nurture grass roots events and that was clearly a desire of council."

Lamont said Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and the municipality had budgeted $35,000 each to find a director for WEB who could help set some guidelines for event producers to work with. That now appears to be happening.

Tourism Whistler’s director of events, Paula Mohammed, is widely tipped to be the new executive director of WEB, overseeing a budget of $105,000 contributed by the three stakeholders.

"Of the three organizations involved with WEB we believe Tourism Whistler is the best suited to handle the day-to-day administration of WEB and then the funding would not be for Paula personally… it’s to provide her with the administrative support that she would need," said John Rae, who represents the municipality on WEB.

"This is one of the models that’s being explored but there’s a high likelihood that it’ll be executed soon."

Rae added that other changes were coming that will make WEB a recognizable entity.

"WEB is… a marvelous reality but we have discovered that to deal with this reality we need to expand dramatically to be able to do justice to all the WEB-generated concepts as well as all the third party propositions," said Rae.

"And we also realize that there needs to be a clearly articulated mandate and clearly articulated objectives and some responsibilities for WEB that have not yet been properly communicated."

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