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Corridor communities vie for ice arena

Whistler has yet to decide if it wants Paralympic facility

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"That’s what I was asking," he said. "We should not single out just Pemberton and Area C. We should have the same support (for) Lillooet or if Squamish wanted to apply for it they should have the same support."

When asked if Squamish was in negotiations with VANOC and Whistler to move the facility south, he replied: "I can’t comment on that."

The following day Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland, who was not at the board meeting, e-mailed this comment: "Squamish is committed to helping make the 2010 Games a success. With this in mind, we've had preliminary discussions with VANOC on several topics. These have all been exploratory in nature."

The point remains that just as Pemberton needs a facility, Squamish needs one too.

"Definitely we can use it," said Kahlon. "Right now the ice allocation is so tight in Squamish some people have to practice (at) two o’clock, three o’clock in the morning."

And ice time in Whistler is also at a premium.

VANOC spokesperson Maureen Douglas said a change in venue wouldn’t be a major concern, because there will be an efficient transportation system in place to move ticket holders and athletes to the various venues.

"In an ideal world it’d be nice to have that small a footprint but also for a Paralympic Winter Games, this is (already) an unusually small footprint," she said. "Even if there’s a move in the sledge hockey (venue), it still provides a really close set of venues unlike what they’ve experience generally in other areas where the venues end up being fairly far apart."

According to Bid Book information, Whistler’s Lot 1/Lot 9 site was acquired from the province specifically for the purpose of developing a multipurpose facility.

The proposed Olympic complex is slated to have a 3,500 to 5,000 seating capacity, and will accommodate both international and North American size ice sheet.

VANOC will kick in a $20 million grant for the facility, which was projected to cost $40 million during the bid phase over two years ago. Construction costs have risen substantially since then.

"The reality is that we’re trying to put the best facilities that have the lasting legacy, the real legacy," said O’Reilly.

"We can do it, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got Lot 1/Lot 9 but that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the best site. It’s a very expensive project.

"We know everything is getting more expensive and so I think VANOC is trying to make sure that we’re making the best decisions as we’ve done with lots of other venues – stuff moved in Vancouver, (and) the ski jumps are being reconsidered.