VANOC still on the hunt for accommodation 

Temporary housing, tents and cruise ships around the corner if accommodation providers don’t step up

Olympic officials are still looking for accommodation in Whistler for thousands of essential workers and hundreds in the media.

They are now being forced to consider constructing temporary housing, using campsites up and down the corridor, and resurrecting the idea of using cruise ships in Squamish to meet their needs.

And in the last month they have worked with Whistler to introduce a new bylaw, which received first and second reading this week at council, to allow residents to rent out their homes to Olympic workers as long as it does not displace local employees.

Olympic organizers say they are surprised that they still have not finalized all the accommodation since, in total, they need less than 50 per cent of what Whistler says it has to offer.

“…Out of 10,000 bedrooms we have only secured 3,000 so where are the rest?” asked the straight talking Jacqui Murdoch, vice president of accommodations and services for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).

“We have worked very closely with Tourism Whistler and the (Resort Municipality of Whistler) and now we know that some people are holding out for a better price. We know that some people are holding out for a longer commitment, they are looking for two to three months (but) we really don’t have any clients left that are looking for extended stays.”

Murdoch said VANOC would not be offering more money as that would not be fair to those who have already signed deals and offered huge support for the Games. And, she said, many of the Olympic client groups already think Whistler is too expensive.

“Some have chosen to accommodate more people in Vancouver than Whistler because of that (price),” said Murdoch who also worries that faced with a challenge in accommodation some media may choose not to come to the resort at all.

VANOC must secure all the media accommodation by February.

In total VANOC needs 4,326 bedrooms in Whistler. Nine hundred and six of those are for the 2,500 to 3,000 essential workers and volunteers. Currently they need 411 bedrooms for the media.

“We are at a point where in the next couple of weeks we are going to have to make some commitment (to temporary solutions),” said Murdoch, adding that many acceptable solutions exist.

“But we would much rather, instead of putting money into temporary solutions with companies that don’t come from around here… be putting it into rentals.”

The new temporary commercial use permit (TCUP) bylaw, which also governs any out of the ordinary use for commercial property, is seen by the municipality as a positive way to get the media and the workers into lodgings for the Games.

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