By Alison Taylor
At least four design concepts for Whistler’s new arena will be
revealed this weekend at a public forum/workshop.
It’s now up to the community to decide which one they like best
or if they want to take parts of each concept and come up with something new.
“They’re dynamic concepts that reflect the community’s ideas,”
said Mike Kirkegaard, senior planner with the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
Those ideas were canvassed at an open house in mid-January
where 150 community members brainstormed their visions for Lots 1 & 9, the
forested land behind the Brew House Pub.
Kirkegaard said the four concepts each allow Whistler to host
the Paralympic sledge hockey events in 2010 as well as have a facility with a
lasting legacy. That means these concepts aren’t just regular big box arenas.
Some of the complementary uses in the various designs include:
a museum, a centre for sustainability, local independent retail space, artist
space, classroom space, tourist accommodation and even employee housing.
There could also be room for a grand plaza, which could be used
as a commemorative space for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The design concepts have interesting names like The Frozen
River, The Mountain Ten, The Solar Rink and The Island.
The costs to develop each design will not be a part of the
workshop on Saturday. Whistler will be getting $20 million from the Vancouver
Organizing Committee towards the cost of construction. The remainder will be up
to Whistler to finance.
“We have some numbers but we’re not going to get into details
on that,” said Kirkegaard. “We don’t have the full detailed analysis of each.
These are conceptual at this time. (But) we’re certainly looking at the cost
numbers and the business plan.”
As per the community’s request, the designs combine the natural
elements of the outdoors, such as the mountains and the forest, with an indoor
rink big enough to host the Paralympic sledge hockey events.
That was reaffirming to planner Eldon Beck who has helped to
shape the village from its early days,
In his review of 32 pages of public comment Beck was very
satisfied to see the community hold up the original values of the resort plan.
“What I found was that many of them, I felt, were very much
aligned with the original purposes of the whole village, that this was a
village in the forest… and that this is a place in the mountains,” said Beck.
“Literally every decision we make should understand that the mountain
environment ought to guide us in some dramatic ways.”
Since the late ’80s the site has been earmarked for a community
facility as a place where all the people in the valley, both residents and
guests to the resort, could gather. Now it seems that original vision could be
the future of Lots 1& 9.
“I see it potentially as the social centre of the entire
community,” explained Beck. “I think it’s absolutely vital. I think it’s one of
the magic spots in Whistler.”
Much like at the first workshop in January, this Saturday the
community will spend the first hour in an unstructured open house format,
followed by an hour presentation of the alternative concepts and ending with an
hour and a half as an interactive workshop.
Childcare will be provided. The workshop will take place on Saturday, March 4 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the Telus Conference Centre. All are welcome and encouraged to attend and help shape the future of the last undeveloped piece of land in the village.