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VANOC asks for more money

Muni moves on athletes' village



If Victoria agrees to lend a hand with the plan to build an Olympic legacy village, Whistler’s new community will become a reality.

Municipal council has agreed on a business plan to make the neighbourhood in the Cheakamus a reality, said Mayor Ken Melamed recently.

"…We have got agreement from council on a way to move forward and I believe (The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics) is with us," said Melamed.

"What remains to be seen is how the province will contribute to the solution to help resolve the issue.

"The province is going to have to do some things that are beyond funding. It goes to some of the covenants on title, it speaks to some of the infrastructure and it might be accessing some loan guarantees. It is not just a cash hand-out."

Melamed said it has been a complicated set of negotiations and discussions are still very active with all parties.

"But, I can tell you I am optimistic," he said.

"…It has taken a concerted effort to come up with a plan that works for all parties. Everyone is coming to the table on this and the intention was not to put an extraordinary amount of responsibility on any one partner, though the community is coming to the table with a significant contribution."

Melamed would not elaborate on what the community’s contribution would look like.

The debate over whether the legacy community, which will house the Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ village and an athletes’ training centre, would be permanent or temporary has been raging for months.

The group put together to make the new community a reality, The Whistler 2020 Development Corporation, has been struggling with rising costs as well as how to make the numbers work so that the homes would be affordable for Whistler workers after the Games.

It has already found efficiencies in the plan and decided to go with a tiered pricing system for the village housing units, which will be sold to residents after the Games to pay for construction.

VANOC is contributing $26 million toward construction of the village, another $13 million for an athletes’ training centre at the site and $6.5 million for housing for First Nations at the site. The rest of the funds for the neighbourhood, which could cost at least $180 million, must be secured another way.

It may be that more money for the project will come from VANOC, which late last week released details of its new capital budget. VANOC is asking Victoria and Ottawa for an extra $55 million each. Part of those new funds, $52 million, which neither level of government has committed to yet, will form a contingency. The province has already set aside $139 million for contingencies and it is likely VANOC’s request will come out of that fund.

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