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Mayor offers insight into Torino Olympics

Games strategy is up to them, Melamed tells business community



Whistler may need to develop a temporary visitor plaza at Creekside, let restaurants stay open all-night and even relax nightly rental bylaws to make sure the guest experience at the 2010 Games is the best it can be.

Those were just a few of the thoughts Mayor Ken Melamed shared with close to 80 business people at this month’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.

The ideas were drawn from his trip to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

He told the audience that in the mountain venues at the last Games dozens of temporary market stalls and restaurants sprang up to serve all the visitors.

He said the same thing might have to happen here.

"At Creekside most of the area is going to be within the (Olympic boundary fence) so it will not be accessible to the average person or to merchants," said Melamed.

"So we may have to create another little merchant village, wherever we can find space because there will be thousands of tourists and visitors and guests who are going to be going to the events, and where are they going to go?"

Melamed admitted that many of the changes that need to be made, like allowing nightly rentals in homes not zoned for them, fly in the face of current bylaws.

So, he said, the rules will have to change.

"I want everybody to keep in mind that our approach in developing a business plan or strategy for 2010 is pretty much a blank page," he said.

"At the municipality we see that pretty much everything is on the table for discussion."

The municipality is in the final stages of producing a business plan, which will help guide the process, said Melamed.

But the most important thing to remember is that if the Games are to contribute to Whistler’s sustainability the guest experience must be awesome.

That means good value, outstanding service and fantastic memories, said Melamed.

"The opportunity is enormous," he said. "There will be an incredible world audience which will be focusing its eyes on Whistler and it is our opportunity to grab their imagination and impress them with what we have to offer here in Whistler."

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