Squamish to renew courtship with VANOC 

The District of Squamish moved to form an Olympic opportunities committee this week, with Councillor Greg Gardner piloting the initiative.

“The motivation for what we’re calling the Squamish Olympic Coordinating Committee (SOCC) is twofold,” he said in an interview with Pique Newsmagazine . “One is to co-ordinate the efforts for the various groups in Squamish towards leveraging the 2010 Olympics. That would include groups like the Spirit of B.C. Committee, SODC (Squamish Oceanfront Development Committee), Wild at Art and other groups.

“The second purpose would be to have one group that deals with VANOC on behalf of the community as a whole.”

Up to now, Deputy Administrator Brent Leigh and Chief Administrative Officer Kim Anema have led discussions with VANOC.

The motion was made during Tuesday’s strategy session. During that time, Councilor Jeff Mackenzie lamented the district’s efforts to secure a significant legacy from VANOC, a feeling that dawned on him as he drove through Lillooet a few days before.

“I’m driving away, and I look back at this big Olympic sign, and it said rink upgrades or whatever paid for by VANOC. And they’re Lillooet — not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

While SOCC is not due to report back to council until September, Gardner said the committee will begin its work much sooner.

While the district hasn’t secured an official legacy — like the athlete’s village in Whistler, for example — there are those who point to the highway and fibreoptic line as crucial inheritances. The Squamish Sustainability Corporation has identified the latter infrastructure as the backbone of a proposed knowledge-based industry.

“In terms of a concrete legacy, it’s pretty clear from VANOC that they’re not going to cut us a big cheque,” said Gardner during the meeting. “(SOCC) comes, in my view, from a feeling that we haven’t been very successful in obtaining benefits from the Games, other than the highway and Callaghan Valley.”

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