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Callaghan Valley development not just for Games but for life

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Planners continue to meet with stakeholders

A key component of the development of the Callaghan Valley for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is what will be left following the two-week event.

"A central issue for us is what about after the Games," director of the Callaghan Master Plan George McKay told about 30 people at the InfoZone meeting last week.

"The jumps will still be there, the biathlon, cross country will still be there after the Games.

"Whistler is already a destination for other activities, but B.C. doesn’t really have a true cross country destination resort."

But should the Callaghan be that destination?

That is one of the key questions planners and stakeholders are working on. Their findings and options will be up for public discussion in the fall.

"I don’t know if it is a forgone conclusion that the intention is to create a legacy that will draw more people into the valley," said McKay in a later interview explaining why it was decided to develop a Master Plan for the area and not just a plan for venue development.

"Our intention was to look at the resources that were in the valley and the interests that were in the valley, and then if you added the venues to that mix of those things, what did that suggest for the future," he said.

There are already several operators offering a variety of activities in the Callaghan Valley.

The area is also actively logged and there are existing mining claims.

The Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations also claim traditional territory in the area, with significant regions of the valley on either side of the site of the Olympic venue designated as special spiritual areas.

"So it is not simply a matter of asking what people think," said McKay.

"There is an analytical sense to this too, as far as what is in there, what can we do, and what are the constraints to doing those types of things. We have to be grounded in reality. It is more practical than simply trying to demonstrate a long-term vision."

Some of the practical constraints include things like the provision of water, sewage treatment and power. And there is the cost associated with all of these utilities and amenities.

But whether or not the Callaghan is developed beyond the Games the venue structures will be in place, which include two ski jumps, 47 kilometres of track for several cross country skiing events, biathlon and the Nordic combined.

Up to 15,000 spectators will be brought by bus daily into the site 9.5 kilometres off Highway 99.

An athlete’s village, capable of housing up to 2,600 people, will also be built on the east side of Callaghan Creek about 8 kilometres from the venue site.

According the Olympic Bid Corporation’s mini bid book the land for the village is to be donated by the provincial government. The construction will be paid for with public and Olympic funds.

The mini bid book also estimates that the cost of publicly funded Callaghan Nordic venue would be approximately $95 million.

Separate discussions are underway between the provincial and municipal governments about the community land bank. The RMOW has suggested that the site of the athlete’s village and surrounding area is the best choice for the land bank.

The land bank would be used to develop resident-restricted housing and facilities. It is estimated that it would cost $50 million to develop the site.

The International Olympic Committee will announce the short list of candidates for the 2010 Winter Games in August. The host city will be chosen in July 2003.

The weekly Olympic InfoZone meetings are over for the summer but will return again in the fall.

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