It’s hard to imagine when you walk past the pit that is Lot
1/9 right now, but in a few years that same barren area may be home to
Whistler’s vibrant arts and cultural community.
According to an information report issued back in March
updating council on the Whistler Village Celebration Plaza — what Lot 1/9
will be called after the Games — the site will be “the epicenter for
Whistler’s arts, culture and heritage precinct.”
Martin Pardoe is the manager of parks planning for the
Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).
He explained that they heard a demand for incorporating the
arts into the space through the community’s masterplan consultation process.
Plans include an Institutional Building Program, which could
provide an area to house the Whistler Arts Council (WAC), the museum and other
local arts, culture and heritage groups after the Olympics. Council will need
to approve the initiative.
“That’s a decision for Council, and I think it depends upon
opportunities that perhaps present themselves as part of the Games or the
Neighbourhood of Nations program,” Pardoe explained.
There is space available for a larger building, which could
be used as artist workspace and display area, similar to the setup on Granville
Island, with office and retail space above.
“At this point in time, there is no timeline for delivery of
that building, but that would be up to future Council,” Pardoe explained.
While the Celebration Plaza has a lot of potential for the
local arts and culture sector, Pardoe said it remains to be seen how it will
end up being fully utilized after the 2010 Games.
The site was designed by Vancouver-based landscape
architects Phillips Farevaag and Smallenberg, but updated sketches and plans
were nor available as they first had to be presented to Council at a meeting in
July for approval.
But Celebration Plaza will definitely feature a large
outdoor performance venue to accommodate groups and productions of various
sizes. While it won’t be a permanent stage, the necessary infrastructure like
electrical and data wiring, and possibly lighting and partial staging system,
will be put into place.
“Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park has a clear stage and dance
shelter above that. That’s not what we’re doing,” Pardoe explained, “What we’ve
heard from people in the performance business is that if you build a permanent
stage, it typically is the wrong size and in the wrong location for just about
everyone, so rather than doing that, we’re providing a number of different
places within the venue that people could set up a stage, and providing some
basic building blocks for the stage.”