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Olympic costs questioned at council

Council gets first look at Whistler’s Olympic plan

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How much have the Olympics cost Whistler already and how much are they expected to cost in the long run?

Those were the questions posed to council at Monday’s evening meeting from community member Brian Buchholz.

"I don’t know where to turn for that information," he said.

He didn’t get an answer on Monday.

Councillor Kristi Wells explained that the cost of the Olympics hasn’t been tallied specifically. Specific expenses, such as traveling to Park City to learn from their experience, have been absorbed in other budgets.

"At this point I don’t think there is any one line that tallies that number," she said.

Buchholz said he was asking his questions in an attempt to figure out if council was doing a good job or not.

"The information needs to be more easily accessible," said Buchholz.

Earlier that day council got their first presentation from Jim Godfrey, former municipal administrator and now the executive director for the 2010 Games, Whistler, on the resort’s business plan for the Games.

Godfrey outlined the preliminary draft of Whistler’s 2010 Strategic Plan. The strategic plan for the Games will be prepared by February 2006 and revised after Torino.

Among the draft Guiding Principles of the Whistler plan are that the Organizing Committee must:

• operate the Games within a balanced budget;

• be ethical and transparent; and

• ensure that an endowment fund is created to support the ongoing operation of the Nordic and Sliding Centres post Games.

After receiving the information Councillor Caroline Lamont said that there was a lot to digest. She had been hoping to receive a written report, which she had asked for at the last meeting, to help her understand everything.

"This is really important," she said "I need to understand it."

She also wanted to ensure that key decisions are not made before community consultation begins.

Godfrey said he intended to update council once a month.

Councillor Nick Davies said his sense from the community is that there’s a vacuum of information which people interpret as "nothing is happening."

He asked if it would be possible to include updated information at the Olympic Info Centre.

Godfrey also updated council on the news that Whistler had received special designation for its role in the Games.

The designation is Host Mountain Resort. This is the first time the International Olympic Committee has granted a separate community special designation for their role in the Games. This represents significant recognition of Whistler’s role, along with a specific logo, much like VANOC’s but with different wording.

A graphics standard manual is being developed and a licensing agreement is being negotiated.

The designation also extends to host province and host country.

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