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Olympic rings are coming to town

Whistler begins to unveil Look and Feel program



Whistler is getting its own set of large Olympic rings.

They are part of the Look and Feel initiative - the half-million-dollar program set aside to dress up Whistler for the Games.

"We've got the rings coming," announced municipal administrator and CEO Bill Barratt to a loud round of applause at last week's Whistler Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The 12 feet high by 25 feet wide rings are expected to arrive in town in early February and municipal officials are hoping they come in time for the Feb. 5 Torch Relay.

The rings will be installed at the edge of the Whistler Medals Plaza, beside the Brew House. They are one component of the municipal Look and Feel program that is fast becoming evident throughout town.

Strings of lights are wrapped around village trees, new banners are hanging from the lampposts, and a large Inukshuk will soon be erected at the corner of Whistler Way and Village Gate Boulevard.

All are designed to put the resort's best face forward for the Olympics.

The 8,000 strings of lights are more than double the annual festive lighting program in the village. The electric bill for the lights is about $5,200, a fraction of what the festive lighting program once cost because of the switch to LED lighting. The old incandescent strings would consume roughly $15,000 per year of electricity, and that was for half the time and half the strings.

After the Games the municipality will revert back to its regular festive light programming, which includes roughly 3,500 LED strings at a cost of $1,200 for the year.

Complementing the lights are the 368 blue and green banners fluttering from lampposts on all major arterial routes. The banners feature 36 designs, including 24 Olympic and Paralympic sporting events.

"These banners help create some excitement and help Whistler look great for the Games," said Kevin McFarland, park planner with the municipality.

The banners cost $20,000. After the Games the banners will be auctioned off to the public with a few remaining for charity giveaways and historical record.

The $500,000 Look and Feel program is funded from hotel tax funds and not from property taxes.


Whistler to get free outdoor gym

Fitness buffs and regular Joes will have another reason to go to Meadow Park to work out.

Whistler is getting a free new outdoor gym, to be set up temporarily in between the Valley Trail and the River of Golden Dreams.

"It should be a nice product for the community to use," said Dave Patterson, manager of parks and village operations for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Patterson, who explained that municipal staff first saw the outdoor gym equipment at the last Union of British Columbia's Municipalities meeting, said the equipment is made up of simple workout stations without complicated weights.

It will be coming to town free of charge,

"Free is always a good thing... if it's reasonable," said Patterson.

The GreenGym fitness park will arrive early next month with six to seven pieces of equipment that can generally accommodate more than one person at a time.

"We're delighted to partner with the Resort Municipality of Whistler that shares our vision and goals - a healthier and more active Canada," said Guy Chaham, executive director of GreenGym.

It remains to be seen where in Whistler the gym will be installed permanently.

The fitness parks are in more than 40 communities across Canada.

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