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Quarterly report says Games on time, on budget

But opposition critic calls VANOC’s transparency into question

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By Clare Ogilvie

Olympic organizers spent more money on Whistler venues than any others the latest quarterly financial report shows.

Venue development expenses totaled $46.5 million for the three months ended Oct.31, 2006 and $34 million for the three months ended July 31, 2006.

“In both quarters the largest part of these expenditures related to work at Whistler Alpine, the Whistler Nordic competition venue and the Whistler Sliding Centre,” states the report released by the Vancouver Organizing Committee Tuesday in Vancouver.

“The overall increase of $12.5 million over the preceding quarter reflects the high level of construction activity during the three months ended Oct.31, 2006 on two of the outdoor venues, the Whistler Alpine venues and the Whistler Nordic competition venue.”

VANOC CEO John Furlong said organizers were committed to finishing most of the venues as soon as possible to get Canadian athletes on them.

“Our venue team has made excellent progress and we have finished the Cypress Freestyle venue ahead of schedule and we continue to be on time and on budget with the rest of our program,” he said.

“This will be a very big year for us (2007). Seven more venues will be completed by this time next year and our Canadian athletes will be making plans to come out to train in Vancouver to prepare for the Games.”

To date the total spent on the Whistler Nordic venue is $49 million, with $20.3 million spent on it in the last quarter. The total cost is expected to be $115.7 million.

Work on the $99.9 million Whistler Sliding Centre on Blackcomb Mountain cost $14.9 million this quarter, with the project to date consuming $44.2 million.

About $7.9 million was spent on the Alpine venue on Whistler Mountain at Creekside. Most of the money for the $26.2 million venue was spent on site preparation and snowmaking equipment.

Furlong also told reporters via teleconference that more than 80 per cent of Canadians know about Vancouver and Whistler’s hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

That’s up from 69 per cent in 2005, said Furlong.

“That is a huge number and we know that our efforts to cross the country sharing the stories of Canada’s Games in 2010 contributed to that,” he said.

But despite that awareness provincial NDP Olympic critic Harry Bains questioned how open VANOC is and pointed to the organization’s plan to release “elements” of its business plan in the New Year.

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