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callaghan logging

Cutblocks planned for the Callaghan Valley this summer may impact on the nordic facilities proposed for the 2010 Olympic bid. Western Forest Products has several cutblocks proposed for an area above Alexandra Falls in the Callaghan. The cutblocks would be visible from the area proposed for the Olympic cross-country skiing and ski jumping stadiums. "Forestry and First Nations are the issues in the Callaghan. Every day is a lost opportunity," Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly says of Western’s plans and inactivity on the Olympic bid since Vancouver-Whistler won the Canadian nomination in December. "I can only keep waving the flag," O’Reilly said. "If we don’t plan our future someone else is going to do it for us." After the Canadian Olympic Association chose Vancouver-Whistler over Calgary and Quebec City as the Canadian nominee to host the 2010 Games the Vancouver-Whistler Bid Society ceased to exist. A new bid society, including members of the COA and the Vancouver-Whistler group, is to be formed to carry the bid to the International Olympic Committee, but that has yet to happen. "We have to wait for the province," O’Reilly said when asked what is holding up formation of the new bid society. "They signed all the documents, because the City of Vancouver wouldn’t, so they’re the ones that have to take the first step. But the province has more on its plate right now. This is not a priority." The fact that it is the provincial government leading the Olympic bid, rather than the host city or cities, may not be a bad thing, according to the mayor. "It’s not a bad thing to have the province sign, because then they’re committed. But right now their attention is elsewhere." O’Reilly has heard that the new bid society could be appointed by May but that may be too late to change Western’s logging plans. In the meantime, there doesn’t appear to be anyone standing up for the Olympic facility in the Callaghan. O’Reilly would like to see Whistler extend its municipal boundaries to include the Callaghan, but that’s not likely to happen in the near future. Western would probably oppose such an annexation, but so too would the Lil’wat Nation of Mount Currie and the Squamish Nation, both of whom have claimed the Callaghan as part of their traditional lands. Brad Sills, a partner in Mad River Nordic Centre, a commercial cross-country ski operation in the Callaghan, says it’s not a matter of stopping Western from logging in the Callaghan, but logging in a way that is not going to limit future options. "We recognize our neighbours to the north and to the south rely on forestry. We’re not saying don’t log, we’re saying here’s an opportunity to work together," Sills said. He adds that if the various provincial ministries and the communities in the corridor can’t work together on something like an Olympic bid, when can they? Sills also says the IOC, which will chose a site for the 2010 Olympics in 2003, looks more favourably on a bid when it can be demonstrated the sports are already taking place there. To that end, he suggests a small ski jump and cross-country trails should be built in the area proposed for the nordic events, to introduce kids to the sports and to show the IOC there is a commitment to the Olympics.

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