There’s no money as of yet
for the $20 million ice rink roof for Whistler’s Celebration Plaza, but the
project isn’t dead.
That’s the message from
Councillor Bob Lorriman, even though the soft deadline for funding has passed.
“It’s one of those things
where everybody always seems to wait until the 11
Lorriman, who is on the task force charged with moving the project along.
“It’s no different that the
athletes’ village. We went beyond the 11
hour in the athletes’
Lorriman is referring to the
critical promise of funding Whistler secured from the province before the $131
million Olympic village project could move ahead.
Likewise, Whistler is looking
for provincial funding, as well as federal and private funding, for the
“iconic” roof structure over a proposed ice rink on Celebration Plaza in time
for the 2010 Games. The unique structure, designed by architects Bing Thom and
Associates, is meant to showcase B.C. wood products and craftsmanship.
The mid-February deadline to
raise the $20 million has technically passed but Lorriman remains hopeful that
the money will come in within the next month.
“I think everybody recognizes
this will be an iconic image people will remember after the Olympics,” said
Lorriman. “I think a lot of people understand the importance of doing that. It
all comes down to money.”
As Whistler hurries to bend
the ears and open the pocketbooks in the private and public sector, the
provincial government has plans of its own for a unique wooden roof structure
over a new ice rink in Robson Square.
Minister Colin Hansen, in
charge of economic development, the Asia-Pacific Initiative, and the Olympics,
was not available for comment this week.
The province has been
tight-lipped on their Robson “clam” project ever since it was leaked to
newspapers in the Lower Mainland.
The conceptual drawings are
before government and remain in a state of internal discussions. Public
consultation will take place before any final decisions are made.
There is no connection to the
roof planned for Robson Square and the one planned for the Celebration Plaza in
That’s reassuring, said
Lorriman, who was concerned that Vancouver’s plans could jeopardize Whistler’s
chances for funding.
“That’s actually very
positive,” he said of the news that the two projects are not connected. “I’m
glad to hear that.”
The province would not
confirm any numbers but according to a report in the
the province’s plans include the $42 million roof, a
$23 million Asia-Pacific centre, and more than $20 million to revamp and
revitalize Robson Square.
Whistler’s project is part of
a massive multi-million overhaul of Lot 1/9 which will be turned into
Celebration Plaza in time for the 2010 Games.
The roof/ice rink will not
happen before the Games if Whistler cannot find full funding for the project
“Unless we get full funding
this isn’t going to move forward,” reiterated Lorriman.
“What we have to keep in our
gun sights is the fact that there’s going to be an ongoing cost to that.”
He said municipal staff have
done a preliminary investigation of the cost to maintain the structure.
“Personally I’m comfortable
that if we could get the full capital amount that the ongoing costs are
certainly workable without taxpayer contributions.”
He is not ruling out the
possibility that funding would be needed from the hotel tax.
“But it clearly falls within
that hotel tax structure — it is a tourist amenity and I think it’s one more
reason for people to come to Whistler for their holidays.”
Staff is expected to bring forward
a report to council on the roof/rink at the second meeting in March, scheduled
for Monday, Mar. 17.
In the meantime, talks are
continuing with key players.
Lorriman said they have
support from some of the interior communities in the province as well as the
B.C. Wood Council.
“There are a couple of
meetings that we’re hoping to put together that will probably make or break the
thing,” he added.
“It’s not dead yet.”