Council supports bid for Oly 2010 Up-front community support needed to get Winter Olympics By Chris Woodall Arthur Griffiths and Bruce MacMillan touched all the right buttons with Whistler council, Monday, when they got a unanimous vote of support after explaining what's needed for a 2010 Winter Olympics bid. After seeing how the Games were run in Nagano, Japan, Griffiths says "it's music to my ears" to hear councillor Ken Melamed insist that a rapid rail line must take precedence over widening Highway 99 to four lanes to get people to Whistler. "I'd also like to hear a commitment that a Winter Olympics will have a zero effect on wildlife, a zero increase in emissions and a zero increase in waste," Melamed says. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has put a pro-environment clause into its charter, MacMillan says, and will look favourably on the Whistler/Vancouver bid because of the heightened concern people here have for the environment. "It's something we can hold our heads high on," he says. Griffiths is the former owner of the Vancouver Canucks. He describes himself as a part-time resident of Whistler. He’s also on the board of BC Transit and said a passenger rail line from Richmond through Vancouver and the Sea to Sky Corridor is part of the public transit authority’s long-term plans. MacMillan is vice-president sales and marketing with Tourism Vancouver. MacMillan and Griffiths made it clear a successful bid needs up-front support from Whistler residents. "The IOC will be looking for evidence of public support," MacMillan says. "One of the deal breakers is a lack of political and popular support. It won't fly unless we have the support of the community." Media support is essential, too, says Griffiths, but it must be inclusive boosterism. "If the media don't support it — or more important, don't elicit public support for it — the Olympic bid won't happen," Griffiths says. Toronto's run for an Olympic bid eight years ago failed in part because the city newspapers pushed a "you must have it" attitude, rather than attempting to get public feedback, Griffiths says. Whistler council will not be required to put up money or staff time at this stage of the process, Griffiths assured Councillor Kristi Wells, although "the municipality is expected it will have to do whatever needs to be done" when the bid process matures. "But we hope that won't be burdensome," Griffiths says. Having several Winter Olympics venues in Whistler, and the crowds that will attract, will mean continued heightened recognition of Whistler internationally, MacMillan says. But it doesn't mean exploding Whistler's bed unit cap to accommodate the Games, Griffiths says. "We want the Games to fit within the community," Griffiths says. "We're not here to shape Whistler for the next millennium, but here to build on what you've already done." With a main Olympic village in Vancouver, a separate Olympic village in Whistler would not be necessary. It is expected Whistler will host the most if not all the skiing and snowboarding events, with the exception of ski jumping. That, too, may come, as well as luge and bobsleigh facilities. "We're going to have to rely on local knowledge of geography," here and at Vancouver-area sites, Griffiths says of what will determine final locations for venues between the Lower Mainland and Pemberton. Ski jumping, for example, can't occur in direct sunlight. Whistler/Vancouver's chances to at least win the right to represent Canada are good, and aren't too shabby when put against international contenders. "The simple fact is that the stars may be lined up for a Vancouver/Whistler bid," Griffiths says. Calgary and Quebec City are expected to be keen to represent Canada, too. But while Calgary claims its 1988 Games experience makes it a natural for 2010, Griffiths says IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch likes to see the Games legacy go to new host cities. And skiers think Calgary's slopes stink, compared to Whistler. "Skiers don't like their hills and their ski jump is no good," Griffiths says. And speaking of a quality downhill ski course, Quebec can forget it. Internationally, "there is no European bid, and no U.S. bid for 2010 because it wants the 2012 Summer Games," Griffiths says. But for now, boosters of a Whistler/Vancouver bid have set a March 15 deadline to decide if they'll go ahead for the right to represent Canada. That effort will cost $600,000 in cash and $250,000 in goods and services. Half the cash and $155,000 of "in-kind" have been identified so far with the rest to be pigeonholed by April 30.