Close to 100 Squamish residents turned out this week to hear about how the 2010 Winter Games will impact their community.
The meeting, held at Quest University, was hosted by the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee as part of their Game Plan series.
Top of mind for most residents was how they would get around town by car and manage their commutes to Vancouver and Whistler.
Brent Macdonald, who drives to Whistler to work while his wife commutes to Vancouver, is concerned about how they will manage at Games time.
If getting to work means taking a shuttle back and forth, that adds hours to their day, commuting won’t work. Added to that is the worry about how to keep his children safe and occupied meaningfully as schools in Squamish will be closed for one or two weeks during the Games period.
“The big one for us is transportation,” said Macdonald.
“…If we are going to be herded to shuttle buses every day then how many more hours will that add to our day? Combined with the schools being shut down, it’s a challenge.”
He was also concerned about what his town is getting out of the Games.
“…Are we going to be known as the traffic jam place on the highway?” said Macdonald.
“Or are people going to be allowed to stop and see the waterfront and see downtown, or is Squamish just going to be by-passed and if it is then why are we participating at all? There really is no benefit at all if people aren’t going to be able to get off the bus to see it.”
VANOC spokesperson Maureen Douglas told the crowd that it definitely wouldn’t be business as usual for Squamish. But, she said, everyone will be able to get to work and residents will be able to commute both south and north without restrictions and without permits.
However, she said VANOC would share in the coming months the best times to travel to avoid peak load-in and load-out periods.
There will be an enhanced transit system put in place to encourage commuters to get out of their cars and take the bus.
“(Transportation) is a huge challenge at every Games,” said Douglas. “And we are investing a great deal of time into it.”
Speaking before the meeting Douglas also said VANOC’s commitment to Squamish’s success is firm.
“We are very committed in supporting Squamish in its endeavours to find its Games time success and being there to provide suggestions and support as requested,” she said.