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Clock ticking on ambitious plan for Lot 1/9

Municipality needs to raise $20 million for outdoor rink and ‘iconic’ roof



Fourteen million dollars will get Whistler a green space to hold the medal ceremonies during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and an enhanced playground and amphitheatre seating after the Games are over.

And $34 million will get Whistler the same space with a circular outdoor ice rink with a centrally supported roof structure that proponents are describing as iconic architecture, in the same vein as the Sydney Opera House or the glass pyramid at the Louvre.

While members of the Lot 1/9 Task Force would like to see the more expensive option developed for 2010, they acknowledge that they’re working within a tight time frame.

“The time to raise the ($20 million) funding expires in March, 2008,” said municipal planner Mike Kirkegaard, who is a member of the task force. “After that they can’t build it in time for the Games, and we will go back to the basic plan which would include cutting down the trees, landscaping the site, the public art, and a temporary stage for the medal ceremony.

“Until then we’re on a fundraising campaign.”

The Task Force will bring its recommendations to council in November for the basic medals plaza, which the municipality has already budgeted $14.2 million to build. They will also ask for the municipality’s co-operation in raising the additional $20 million required for the ice rink and roof.

Kirkegaard said that taxpayers would not be on the hook for that additional funding, which was the prime concern brought forward by the more than 140 people who attended the open house on Oct. 18. If they cannot find an outside source of funding by March, the rink and roof will be off the table until after 2010.

There could also be up to three buildings on the site after 2010, each with 25,000 square feet of space dedicated to community uses. Possible uses suggested include an art gallery, an art market, a culinary school, the museum and the centre for sustainability. The buildings are expected to be built by other nations for the Olympics and left in Whistler after the Games.

Some of the potential funding sources for the rink and roof include the federal and provincial governments, Olympic and Paralympic corporate sponsors and B.C. industry groups. For example, it has been suggested that the B.C. forest industry might provide some funding for the unique $18 million roof structure as an opportunity to show off woodwork in the support trusses and alternative uses of pine beetle-killed wood.

The rink is expected to cost $2 million, and will be slightly larger in area than an NHL hockey rink.

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