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Editorial

The time has come for many things

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"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes… and ships… and sealing-wax…

Of cabbages… and kings…

And why the sea is boiling hot…

And whether pigs have wings."

— Lewis Carroll

The time has come for many things that will go a long way towards shaping Whistler’s future.

Next week the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games is expected to announce the president/CEO of the organization. This will put a face and a name on what will become, for the next six years, the most powerful organization in the province, outside of the provincial government itself.

We haven’t heard too much from the Olympic people since Vancouver and Whistler were awarded the 2010 Games last July, but that doesn’t mean they have been idle. Staging the Olympics is an endeavour that covers a spectrum of issues in B.C. – the economy, tourism, First Nations, the downtown eastside, transportation projects, even athletics – certainly too much for everything to have been put on hold for seven months while the OCOG searched for a leader. When the new woman, or man, in charge of the Games is finally announced we should finally begin to get a feel for what hosting the Olympics means.

One of the first decisions the new OCOG CEO will have to make is where the athletes village will be built in Whistler. That announcement is expected to come in May, at the same time as Whistler is scheduled to adopt and begin implementation of its new Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. The two issues are related but separate.

The OCOG needs a place to house 2,500 athletes, coaches and trainers and assure their security. In the 1998 Olympic proposal, where the Canadian Olympic Association chose Vancouver/Whistler over bids from Quebec City and Calgary, the athletes village was going to be two existing hotels, the Delta Whistler Resort and the Westin Resort and Spa. At last summer’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee the athletes village was in the Callaghan Valley.

Based on feedback since the November open house on Whistler’s CSP, where public opinion clearly favoured infill housing over housing in the Callaghan, the OCOG is now evaluating potential sites for the athletes village within Whistler’s existing developed corridor. But that doesn’t mean the athletes village will be in Whistler. Security will be one of the highest priorities for the OCOG, and they may decide the Callaghan is the best option.

Meanwhile, municipal staff is developing a preferred scenario for Whistler’s CSP, based on public feedback to the five scenarios presented last fall. That preferred scenario, including the central question of where Whistler should build up to 7,000 beds over the next 15 years for residents, should be made public in the next few weeks. Feedback will be most welcomed.

The CSP isn’t the only issue at municipal hall. The governance review committee, which was struck in November, will meet for the first time next week. The governance review was a compromise proposal after Councillor Kristi Wells’ motion for a full structural review of municipal hall operations failed.

Central to the governance review is the role of administrator Jim Godfrey, whose contract expires in November of this year. However, the contract requires Godfrey be given six months notice as to whether he will be rehired or not. That means council must decide by May whether his contract will be renewed. Presumably the governance review will go a long way towards determining council’s, and Godfrey’s, decision.

In addition to these issues facing Whistler in the next few weeks there is also the matter of the provincial government’s request for proposals to provide passenger rail service on the BC Rail line. Applications from Whistler Railtours and Great Canadian Railtours are expected this month. The political alignments are interesting. Whistler Railtours, which is a partner in the Nita Lake Lodge development, has already reached agreement with Via Rail to handle the actual operation of its proposed rail service.

Meanwhile, Great Canadian Railtours has its successful record of operating passenger rail service between Vancouver and the Rockies and has also recently announced a partnership with the West Coast Railway Association in Squamish to operate a new excursion train from Prince Rupert and take advantage of the new cruise ship terminal there.

A decision on which company will get the right to operate between North Vancouver and Prince George will likely be made in March or April.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,

"You've had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?"

But answer came there none…

And this was scarcely odd, because

They'd eaten every one.

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