Many members of the community - and even some councillors - have made it clear that they are unimpressed with plans to host a $96,600 party over the Canada Day long weekend. But the event is still moving ahead, full-steam.
Bob Andrea, manager of Village Animation, is one of the people working behind the scenes to make the Resort Municipality of Whistler's post-Olympic party a success.
According to a presentation made to council last week, the event is designed to celebrate local athletes who competed in the Olympics and Paralympics, rekindle community spirit and pride, enhance the launch of the summer tourism season and strengthen partnerships.
"The purpose is definitely to recognize the Sea to Sky corridor athletes - Olympians and Paralympians - and to say 'thank you' to Whistler for a successful Games. And we want to rekindle spirit and pride in Whistler and we should be proud of ourselves! The rest of this country certainly is proud of itself and I don't think we should not be proud of ourselves," Andrea said.
They also plan to use the party as a tourism driver, to create "buzz" with visitors and draw media from outside the community to come and see our medal-winning athletes like Ashleigh McIvor. Andrea couldn't confirm which athletes will be present for the event, but said organizers are working to ensure as many as possible can attend.
"As with everything we do in Whistler, when we create any event, whether it be the World Ski and Snowboard Festival or Crankworx or this particular event, it's about marketing Whistler and we want, of course, people to know that we're the same community that hosted the hugely successful Olympics and Paralympics and 'Guess what, we're open in the summertime, and look what we have,'" Andrea said.
So, why hold a post-Olympic celebration on a weekend that is already traditionally busy in Whistler?
"It's not about drawing people here on the Canada Day long weekend, it's about getting the message out that we are here, we are open, we are awesome and we have a great summer product, as well."
Cost estimates show that stage, sound and labour will account for approximately $35,000 of the $96,600 budget, while talent, including emcee and green room, will cost $25,000. The remaining $36,600 will go towards overnight security, communications targeting the region, augmenting the existing street performer budget and enhancing the Canada Day Parade with fireworks and a musical performance.
"For Canada Day, we've got a whole run of show, how it would flow, and it would flow from morning to evening, finishing with fireworks," he explained.
Andrea points out that they have also been able to roll some existing events, like the Canadian National Dragon Boat Races, LUNA Fliks film screenings and the B.C. Bike Race finish, into the four-day party.
"Again, like we would with any other event, you capture things that are also happening," Andrea explained.
They're also hoping to include a dance performance by Soul Funktion or one of the neighbouring First Nations groups.
But one of the biggest draws for the weekend should be a series of free concerts held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, on a stage set up in Village Square. Offers to musical talent have already been extended and organizers are awaiting responses. So while Andrea couldn't say who they are hoping to book, he hinted that the music will most likely be local and regional, akin to groups like Delhi 2 Dublin, Animal Nation and Mother Mother.
"Right now, we have our feelers out for all sorts of different types of programming because, Village Animation for that weekend, we're enhancing it for the entire weekend, as well," Andrea said.
"We wanted to add to their budget so that we could go after some of the acts that may be out of our range in terms of funding that we had here during the Games period."
Andrea expects the full itinerary for the event will be made public in early- to mid-June.