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No Whistler council meetings from Dec. 16 until March 23



Whistler's council will not meet in January, February and most of March.

Councillors voted to suspend council meetings between Dec. 16 and March 23 so that they can properly host the Olympics, with only Councillor Ralph Forsyth in opposition during Tuesday's public meeting.

Council will also not have any committee or subcommittee meetings during that black out period.

Shannon Story, manager of legislative services, explained the council schedule was drafted this way because the mayor and councillors will probably be extremely busy during the Games period hosting dignitaries from around the world and speaking to the media.

"Any dignitaries that we are hosting, council will be doing the main role of hosting and touring them around Whistler," said Story.

"Secondly, we expect there will be a large media presence. Ken Melamed is only one man and he is going to really rely on council... We see all of council being acting mayor."

Story said the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference gave Whistler a good taste of what the Olympics could be like for the mayor. Although the conference was much smaller than the Games will be, Melamed was running from one event to another, she said.

Between January and mid-March, the council members can still call a special meeting at any time if needed.

Story explained the mayor or two councillors can call a meeting as long as they give the public 48 hours' notice. And if all seven council members unanimously call the meeting, they can hold a meeting immediately.

But Forsyth believes the black out period is too long for council to go without meeting.

"I understand it is the Games, but two and a half months is a very long time to go without any kind of meeting," he said.

He proposed council meet on Jan. 5., but Story said that would mean her staff would have to send out a council package on Christmas day.

Unlike Whistler, both Vancouver and Richmond will hold council meetings in January, as well as periodically during the Games.

Wendy Steward, assistant director of communications for the City of Vancouver, said Vancouver's council is meeting on Feb. 2 and they have set aside Feb. 16 for a meeting if needed. They also have a meeting on March 2 and they plan to assume their regular meeting schedule on March 23.

Richmond's council has only cancelled meetings for February.

"One of the reasons is Richmond is having a Live Site, just as Whistler is having, and ours is located adjacent to city hall," said Cynthia Lockrey senior manager of media relations for the City of Richmond.

"We felt it might be difficult for people to attend the meetings and gain access... But otherwise, it is business as usual."



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