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Municipality rolls out Celebration Plaza details

Still no money, timeline for an ice rink



Even though Lot 1/9 is completely barren except for a few trees at the north end, Martin Pardoe, manager of parks and planning for the municipality, eventually sees Celebration Plaza transformed into a flexible, affordable community space.

The plaza will consist of a large, circular lawn, indented at one end by a 400-person amphitheatre, Pardoe explained to council Tuesday night.

"Legacy Plaza" - a space dedicated to remembering the 2010 Olympics - will go where the Olympic Information Booth currently sits, next to the Brewhouse.

The playground structure near Marketplace will be expanded and designed for kids of all abilities. And, two spots have been set-aside for stages. The whole site will be wired for performances.

"One of the drivers is affordable community use and flexibility," said Pardoe.

"The other objective is to reduce the cost and risk of someone hosting a performance, whether it is a community group or someone outside the community."

The total cost to revamp the plaza from the gravel-covered space VANOC will use during the Games to its post-Olympic state is $6.3 million, said Pardoe. That amount is included in the $13.6 million construction budget, of which $4.5 million is coming from the Resort Municipality of Whistler's hotel tax revenue.

Part of that money will go towards "beefing up the existing trees," said Pardoe, as well as building a roof for the amphitheater.

With these planned features, Pardoe said the plaza could be used for busking, private and corporate events, exhibitions, classical arts, festivals, and performances.

A 2,000-person rock concert could potentially also take place in the plaza, said Pardoe, but because of the noise he does not see this being a common use.

But a skating rink will probably not be built.

No money or timeline has been announced for the "third" construction phase of Celebration Plaza, which includes five buildings and an ice amenity.

"I personally don't remain convinced that moving forward with an ice structure, whether it is indoors or not, is a good investment of tax dollars," said Pardoe.

"The capital costs to develop a facility... are significant. There is also another issue of the look of the concrete slab in the summer months."

Whistler residents will get access to Celebration Plaza once construction wraps up in Oct. 2010.

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