Squamish wants to see Olympic legacies now 

Community feels left behind since 2010 Games awarded, struggling to get attention

The Squamish business community is excited about what the 2010 Olympics may mean for the town but wants to see something tangible soon from LegaciesNow.

"This is the first program of its kind in the world," said Ian Tait, director of community initiatives for 2010 LegaciesNow. "The Sydney Games in Australia had something similar, but it ended on the day of the closing ceremonies. These initiatives will have a 2010 focus, but with a 2020 vision."

Tait was in Squamish and Pemberton Monday for meetings with business and political leaders and to discuss community legacies from the Games. The goal of 2010 LegaciesNow is to maximize the benefits of the Olympics in 90 different communities across the province. LegaciesNow is concentrating on four district areas: sports and recreation, arts, literacy and volunteerism.

Tait, who worked for the 2010 Bid Corporation for four years as a community relations manager and spent lots of time in the corridor during the bid process, quickly found himself in the hot seat Monday in Squamish. The general mood in the room was that since the Games were awarded to Vancouver/Whistler in July 2003, Squamish has been left behind.

Mayor Ian Sutherland said he has "A hard time trying to find the right contact at VANOC. But in our heads, we know that VANOC is a big organization and it takes time to do things."

Sutherland called being one community out of 90, "One of our biggest challenges. What I keep telling people in VANOC and the government is that we know we are not a venue site, we know we’re not Vancouver, Whistler or West Van, but at the end of the day, we are also not Williams Lake, Cranbrook or Prince George. So we just want people to understand that we play a very unique role, being half way between Whistler and Vancouver, and we have some unique opportunities here and we want to make sure they get taken advantage of."

Gord Prescott, president of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t want to wait until 2010 for legacies. A high-speed passenger ferry was talked about in the bid book as a way to get people from Vancouver to Squamish. Prescott called the passenger ferry terminal his "pet issue".

"In a perfect world I’d like to have that thing built basically tomorrow, and I’d like someone else pay the bills for it. So the commuters of Squamish can make use of that – literately right away, not a day before the Olympics are ready it use it.

"The second part of that is the establishment of the facility down at the Nexan Lands could be an important link to the rest of the development down there," Prescott continued. "Olympics and development of our waterfront can be linked and I think they can both produce the legacy. We get to get off the system we are in now and be in contact with whoever it is, whether it be the province or the Olympic people, to try and get going on that right away.

"It would be unrealistic to build the infrastructure for the ferry and just use it for a two-week period, and… it’s one of the legacies that need to come to the community from the Olympics."

Prescott also pointed out that there is some substantial road work to be done in the next few years and that would encourage the commuting population to use the ferry right now.

For more information on 2010 Legacies Now go to www.2010legaciesnow.com.

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