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Councillors impressed by Salt Lake Games, but feel Whistler could do better



There is no doubt that Whistler and Vancouver can do a great job hosting the Olympics say two councillors just returned from the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.

"I think looking at what they did down there, I think we can do a fabulous job with the Games," said Councillor Nick Davies.

His thoughts were echoed by Councillor Ken Melamed.

"I came back with the sense that there is no question that Vancouver-Whistler can put on a Games of equal or superior calibre," he said.

"In fact I think we could do better because Whistler has better venues."

Both were impressed with the Salt Lake Games but saw many lessons for Whistler as the community considers hosting the 2010 Winter Games.

One of the most crucial lessons was the importance of tying down the legacies of the Games for the community.

"If we get the Games then the community has to get a substantial legacy package to make it worth our while," said Melamed.

"And they can?t be a burden on the community."

Melamed said he is not convinced Salt Lake got any real legacies out of the Games.

"You got the sense that after the Olympics left Salt Lake that there wasn?t going to be a huge legacy," he said.

"Looking at Soldier Hollow I believe it will flop after the Games. It will cease to exist. So there will be almost zero legacy for the Nordic facility. It is out in the middle of nowhere and it requires snow making on the whole track.

"If ours is to succeed it has to be properly endowed and it has to make sense after the Games."

Melamed believes the Callaghan has great potential but he also accepts that it faces real challenges. Like Soldier Hollow in Utah it is also some ways out of the village, which makes it less accessible. It does, however, have great snow.

And he believes having the Bobsled and Luge at Blackcomb?s Base II, as is currently under discussion, would also be a great legacy for Whistler, with the right endowment left to support it.

Both councillors found businesses that cashed in big-time on the Games and others who suffered with the Games in town.

Davies was struck by the success of a small restaurant in Park City which he discovered was only invented for the duration of the Games.

"What it was, was a catering company in town which rented the space to take advantage of the Olympics and open a restaurant and they were busy," he said.