They're off: Whistler-Vancouver tandem launch Oly 2010 bid Buddy can you spare $850,000? By Chris Woodall The pistol has fired and the racers are off to "imagine" a 2010 Winter Olympic bid. The launch, March 11, of the "Can You Imagine 2010" campaign will try to convince the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) to give Whistler/Vancouver Canada's baton for a Winter Olympics. Whistler and Vancouver municipal councils have said yes, the provincial government has said yes, and surveys of Whistler and Vancouver residents have also indicated strong support. "The 2010 Olympic Winter Games would bring world-wide exposure to our resort, but most importantly it will serve as a catalyst for much needed regional transportation enhancements to benefit residents and visitors alike far beyond year 2010," says Craig MacKenzie, acting president of the Whistler Resort Association. The WRA has ponied up a $5,000 share of the non-refundable $15,000 sent to the COA to confirm entry of the Whistler/Vancouver intentions. Tourism Vancouver and Sport BC each chipped in $5,000. There's already a nifty logo, showing two snow-capped mountain peaks (to represent Whistler) fronted by a stylized profile of the waterfront Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre. And there's a website — "www.winter2010.com" — for preliminary information, a calendar of key dates, links to other Olympic websites, and a place to register as a contributor or volunteer. "One of the next steps is to sit down to organize the structure of the bid society," says Whistler Mayor Hugh O'Reilly. The next 45 days will be crucial for the Whistler/Vancouver 2010 Bid Society as it scurries about to secure critical financing from corporate and community partners for a $850,000 budget that will just cover a bid to represent Canada. The WRA and the resort municipality will be asked to dedicate staff time at this end as needed to supply information and to guide the process here. Calgary and Quebec City are seen as Whistler/Vancouver's main contenders to wave the Maple Leaf before the International Olympic Committee, the final arbiter of who gets a summer or winter Olympic Games. If the bid gets the COA nod, competing against "the rest of the world" to win the hearts and minds (and stomachs) of the IOC could cost $15 million. The IOC is not expected to make a decision on who will host the 2010 Games until about 2002. The bid's "imagine" theme will focus on the community legacies Whistler and Vancouver can expect from a successful Games, as well as the legacy it will leave for Canada's athletes competing in future Games. The 1988 Calgary Winter Games has been tagged as responsible for this country's golden showing in speed skating events at the Nagano Games, for example, because of Calgary's world-class indoor rink that was left behind as a training facility. Bright-eyed estimates of the impact of a 2010 winter games talk of $2 billion pumped into Whistler/Vancouver economies and 25,000 person-years of employment. Deciding to go ahead with the Games bid was based on three months of community consultations, logistical research and getting governments on-side. Getting the average Joe and Janet in Whistler and Vancouver to support the bid is important. "Entering the Olympic Winter Games bid process is a true testimony to the world-wide success of Whistler and Vancouver as visitor destinations and as places to live," says Bruce MacMillan, who will be managing the national bid process. "But that won't be enough to win. We need to mobilize as a region and province to demonstrate the support and enthusiasm we have for this opportunity," MacMillan says. The bidders look at Toronto's failed attempt to win the 1996 Summer Games as an example where not enough was done to get local voices to support the bid. Toronto was also on the lip of a slide into economic recession, as B.C. is now. "British Columbia really needs to rally around something positive for its economy and this could be it," says Arthur Griffiths, who is spearheading the bid.