Opinion » Editorial

Time to settle Callaghan legacy




It's a word that has so many layers. On a personal level it's what many of us think about when we imagine we are gone and wonder what we might leave behind — perhaps for our kids, our community, even our nation.

It can conjure up those big "meaning of life discussions" if one is left too long to ponder it in all its aspects.

In many ways the word has been hijacked in Whistler as it is constantly linked to the hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

For years leading up to the event the talk was all about the legacy the Games would leave behind, not just in our town, but also in Vancouver and beyond.

There were, after all, not just the physical legacies of the Games — sliding tracks, skating ovals, athlete villages — there was the emotional legacy too. That feel good, we did it, rah-rah sort of blanket we wrapped ourselves in.

And there is no doubt that Whistler gained many crucial legacies from the Games including the athletes' village, now our Cheakamus neighbourhood, a boundary expansion, and an upgraded highway to the resort to mention just a few.

But I can't help but remember several inspiring conversations I had with top officials of the organizing committee put together to host the Games about how one of the greatest legacies would always be the idea that in Canada everyone competes on a level playing field, that a sense of fair play is part of how we would put on the Games.

Perhaps it is the recollection of these understandings that causes me to struggle with the situation in the Callaghan.

In the last few months we have learned of on-going discussions between Callaghan Country and the Whistler Legacies Society (WLS). These talks have not gone well and the result has been that users of the area now have to buy a pass to all three local cross-country areas — Lost Lake, Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) and the Callaghan — or choose between WOP and the Callaghan.

No more joint use, joint parking, joint grooming. No more feeling like we are all in this together.

I remember chatting with Brad Sills of Callaghan Country years before the Games. I can still recall the passion as he spoke about "his valley" and how it was a natural for the Nordic events. Back then there was even talk of putting the sliding events out there. I travelled by snowmobile down the proposed line of the track. Not even the speed of the ride could wipe the smiles off our faces.

Back then talking about the Games with Sills was like talking to a kid who had just learned that he was about to get every present he ever wanted for Christmas all at the same time.