The International Olympic Committee isnt known for its sense of humour, but somebody must have been looking at the calendar when they scheduled the vote on who will host the 2010 Winter Olympics for July 2 in Prague. Patience please while we try to explain.
As the final 30-day countdown to the IOC decision has begun the recent Olympic news has included: 1.) Wayne Gretzky may be part of the Vancouver delegation making the presentation in Prague. 2.) CBS has joined AOL Time Warner in deciding not to bid for the television rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games. 3.) An Associated Press investigation has revealed a report urging the IOC to hold "smaller Games". 4.) Allegations China and Canada may have participated in a little horse trading, Canada supporting Shanghais successful bid to host Expo 2010 in exchange for the two Chinese IOC delegates votes in Prague.
Meanwhile, a formidable lineup of contenders for the 2012 Summer Games has come to include New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Havana and Leipzig, Germany. The stellar list of global capitals in search of the 2012 Olympics has renewed speculation about strategic voting for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
All of this is well beyond the interest or concern of most of the residents in our little valley. But in the last few months it has become increasingly clear that significant chunks of Whistlers future may be decided by the IOC members decision in Prague. At the very least, several decisions are on hold pending the results of the vote July 2. Money for the second phase of the conference centre renovations, for instance, has not yet been found but the feeling is if Vancouver-Whistler is awarded the Games then a few million may become available from somewhere.
Lots 1 and 9 (between the health care centre and the Olympic bid office), which the municipality has owned for many years but cant afford to develop, will be the site of the sledge hockey arena for the Paralympics if things go as hoped on July 2. If not, they will likely remain a nice forested area in the village, until one of the resident pot smokers drops a roach one day and burns the forest down.
The $600 million upgrading of Highway 99 is promised before 2010, regardless of where the Olympics are held that year. But you cant help but wonder if the project and the highway delays may be spread out over a longer period if there is no Olympic deadline.
And, as we tried to explain in this space last week, what happens in the Callaghan Valley may be largely determined by the IOCs decision. What Whistlerites think when they finally get around to the second phase of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan should also have an impact on decisions for the Callaghan, but if the 2010 Games are coming this way and its federal and provincial money paying for them, Whistlers wishes may be compromised.
That doesnt diminish the importance of the CSP in fact, it should increase its importance. It is the primary opportunity perhaps the only real opportunity for the people of Whistler to have a say in what this valley will look like over the next 10-20 years.
But a number of projects and decisions in Whistler will become clearer after the IOC delegates vote July 2 in Prague. Their decision should be made by about 8:30 a.m. local time. After that, you have until 5 p.m. that day to pay your municipal taxes.