It has been a busy year, and a busy political agenda, in Whistler, Victoria and Vancouver in 2002. From the World Economic Forum to the Olympic bid and the G8 foreign ministers, Whistler has caught the attention of the provincial and federal governments. West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling, minister responsible for the 2010 Olympic bid and Minister of State for Community Charter, sat down with Pique editor Bob Barnett June 22 to discuss some of these issues.
Pique: In February Premier Gordon Campbell invited the World Economic Forum to hold its annual meeting in Whistler. In April Whistler council put some conditions on that invitation. How did that go over in Victoria?
Ted Nebbeling: Well it was certainly something that was upsetting, because the provincial government was asked to participate and help out to make this event happen. It required a considerable amount of money, millions of dollars for the upgrade of the convention centre to accommodate the World Economic Forum, and at the request of Whistler that was done.
So we committed to participate in that the upgrade of the convention centre and thats part of the problem. We didnt, as the provincial government, come and initiate this. This came through Whistler and some Vancouver members of the World Economic Forum.
We certainly saw it as a great opportunity to bring world leaders in government and business, together in a place where I think dialogue has always been very specially treated. So I was very disappointed that the Whistler council basically, by their resolution, shut the door. The timeframe that they offered was clearly not a timeframe that worked with the whole agenda of the World Economic Forum, because they travel to other parts of the world as well.
The argument that I heard made against the World Economic Forum, for me really didnt sound very convincing. It was, "well you know during the World Economic Forum there will not be opportunities for people to do their work because there will be security and these people will not go to restaurants and they will not go to bars." Its interesting because we have the G8 right now in Kananaskis and yesterday I saw a report that the whole financial input into the area is calculated at $190 million, that will be spent in Banff, in Calgary, in all the surrounding communities. So obviously there is people there that spend money. So saying that it would make the work impossible for liftees and for restaurant workers is counter to what every other area has experienced.
What it would have done is of course, was once again focus the worlds attention on this very spectacular place called Whistler.