More than 200 people attended Saturday’s public forum on Lots 1 & 9, where four concepts for a Paralympic arena and surrounding buildings were presented.
“Lots 1 and 9 are close to the centre of the whole valley,” said Eldon Beck, who began his involvement with the design of Whistler Village in 1978. “If this becomes the heart or the centre of Whistler, that would be wonderful.”
The four concepts — dubbed The Solar Rink, The Sunny
Island, The Mountain Tent and The Frozen River — were developed by a team
that includes Beck, Mark Lakeman, Bruce Hemstock
municipal staff and a panel of community members,
based on public feedback from a January workshop.
“Intangibles are things you can’t measure,” Beck told the
workshop Saturday. “Good planning starts with intangibles, and I think the list
of words and values that came out of the January workshop — ‘authentic,’
‘magical,’ ‘animated’ — are intangibles.”
An arena is the centerpiece of each of the four concepts, with
a public plaza or gathering space outside the arena. Each concept maintains a
tree buffer along Blackcomb Way.
Three of the arena concepts include free-form ice shapes that
would accommodate an International Ice Hockey Federation-sized arena for the
Paralympics but would also convey the idea of a frozen pond or stream.
Temporary bleacher seating could be provided for the Paralympics and other
special events but benches, logs, rocks and other informal features around the
arena would provide seating at other times.
In addition to skating, the arena has the potential to host
cultural events, conferences, festivals and other recreational events.
A variety of mixed use buildings surround the south and west
flanks of the arena in each concept. No specific uses were identified for the
buildings. Instead, they were identified as mixed community commercial, with
commercial accommodation on the second floor, or community services
institutional, possibly including employee housing above. Total square footage
of the mixed use buildings ranged from nearly 80,000 square feet in the Solar
Rink concept, to approximately 54,000 square feet in the Sunny Island concept.
“I think generally people were very supportive of the direction
we’re going,” said Mike Kirkegaard, Senior Planner with the municipality. “This
is an important project, and I think people appreciate being involved. And we
can still address ideas; we’re at the concept stage.”
Kirkegaard said there is lots of work still to do, as far as
programming, architecture, financing and sustainability.
The total development on Lots 1 & 9 is intended to be a
showcase for sustainable practices.
No capital or operating costs have been determined for any of
the concepts presented, but Kirkegaard said officials are pursuing additional
sources of capital funding. These include money VANOC has set aside for a
medals plaza in Whistler and provincial funds through the Olympic Live Sites
program. As well, there are various government grants for “Green” building
projects that may be available.
VANOC will provide Whistler with $20 million towards the cost of an arena for the Paralympic sledge hockey.