Whistler to get $30,000 for Torch Relay 

Local acts will be front and centre

Even as the provincial government announces $20 million in cuts to arts, community and sport groups it has proclaimed that $2.86 million will be given to communities hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic torch relay.

Whistler, which will keep the flame overnight Feb. 5, will get $30,000 to help it celebrate the torch relay.

Victoria, the first stop on the route, will get $100,000.

There are 50 "Celebration Communities" that will host events twice a day, in the afternoon and evening, as the relay continues. Another 218 "Route Communities" will see the torch for briefer pit stops along the way; 50 of these will be at aboriginal communities and will feature a "keeper of the flame" ceremony of elders.

Whistler is now working with community partners to line up musical acts and other entertainment for the celebration.

"We are going to be bringing in local music and we are going to have a community celebration that is family friendly," said Christa Vandeberg, village animation supervisor for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

"It is a chance for the community to gather and show their support for athletes and really feel the sense of pride that Whistler will be embracing over the coming months."

Vandeberg said they are looking at local and regional musicians and artists and involving the Whistler Arts Council with programming.

And, of course, there will be cake.

Locally, the District of Squamish will get $30,000, Squamish First Nation will get $7,000, Pemberton will get $8,000, and the Lil'wat First Nation will get $7,000.

"This grants program will enable communities to proudly showcase the very best of their heritage and culture to the world in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," said Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

Said Mary McNeil, Minister of State for the Olympics and ActNow B.C.: "As we prepare to welcome the world in 2010, the Olympic Torch Relay provides an unparalleled opportunity for all British Columbians to celebrate the beauty and diversity of our communities and our province."

The Vancouver Organizing Committee provides the flame and the stage but local communities must provide support for volunteers, road and traffic safety, and emergency response if needed.

The 2010 Olympic flame will be lit on Oct. 22, and handed to a Canadian representative in Athens.

It will then begin its journey into every province and territory in Canada, in the hands of about 12,000 torchbearers.

A map of the route and list of Canadian and B.C. communities the torch will visit can be found at vancouver2010.com .

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay route will be the longest domestic Torch Relay in Olympic Games history, stretching over 45,000 kilometres throughout Canada.

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