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Olympic party planned for Canada Day

Budget reduced to $100,000 for post-Games community celebration



Whistler will have its post-Olympic party on Canada Day at a price tag of just under $100,000.

That's $50,000 less than the original budget but still too much for Councillors Tom Thomson and Grant Lamont, who are both opposed to the party.

"I think I can best demonstrate it," said Thomson, donning the plastic blue Devo hat from one of the concerts during the Olympics.

"I'm partied out."

He also said there's no interest in spending this money within the community and he continued to promote his plan for a local pot-luck party on the lawn at medals plaza in the fall.

"I have found in no uncertain terms, zero uptake for us as a municipality to spend money on another party," he said.

But, he was told on Tuesday that this isn't just "another party."

There are three reasons for doing this: to celebrate our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, to rekindle the community spirit and pride seen here during the Games and to launch the summer tourism season with an ultimate goal of driving more room nights to the resort.

"There is an economic component," explained John Rae, the municipality's manager of strategic alliances and marketing services.

"This is intended to be an economic driver."

Rae highlighted summer occupancies in the last two years. For July 2008 and 2009 occupancy for the month was at 58 and 57 per cent respectively.

"This sets us up for the entire summer," said Rae of the Canada Day celebration, driving incremental room nights and day visits.

At the same time, it's a chance for the community to recapture that feeling of pride it shared during the Games.

Councillor Chris Quinlan supports the party but would also like to see the budget trimmed.

"I'm not tied to this plan or this number," he said.

The biggest line item in the budget is $45,000 for stage, sound and technical, followed by $15,000 to bring athletes to Whistler and $10,000 for more talent.

Rae cautioned against chopping the budget any further than the current $96,000 at a risk of watering down the party.

It is set to begin on Thursday, July 1 at the Canada Day parade, followed by an athlete meet and greet. The party will continue with street entertainment and performers the following day.

Rae also explained that the reason why this party was always budgeted in the "Investing the Dream" Games budget was because it emerged as one of the lessons learned from Park City, who wished it had channeled its Olympic spirit in the wake of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Mayor Ken Melamed threw his support behind the initiative.

"I think what we were trying to get away from is that this is just another party," he said.

Or, as Councillor Eckhard Zeidler put it: "a party with a purpose."

It is, he added, the bookend to the whole Olympic and Paralympic event, from the early planning through the Games to this celebratory party.

"This was an entire package from beginning to end," he said, adding that the end wasn't the Paralympic closing ceremonies, rather this community celebration.

But there was no convincing the other side of the argument.

"I think it is unnecessary," said Councillor Lamont.

"Let's move on, OK. The party's over."