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VANOC boss unveils new Squamish banners

Mayor says Olympic legacy is the town’s own responsibility



The Vancouver Organizing Committee had already spoiled the party twice so when it came time to unveil the latest edition of Squamish’s banners, the CEO made sure he was on hand to help deliver the good news.

After what had happened with Squamish’s banner program there has been some concern about how the town would fit into the Olympic picture.

But at the unveiling of the new banners last week John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, said stakeholders just need to keep doing what they have been doing.

"There were a few issues with the initial design and I think we contributed to that confusion so we felt an obligation to help sort it out," said Furlong. "So we contributed to see that it has happened the way that it has happened now.

"What happened here was a small legislative glitch on how we were moving this piece forwards and we sat and worked with the mayor and the community and the Chamber came to a solution which reflects very well on the spirit and partnership that we’ve had here all along."

"The Heart of Sea to Sky" is the slogan on the new banners, which Furlong called a great reflection "on the community and the spirit of Squamish."

Squamish’s original banners proclaimed the town "The Heart of 2010." That didn’t work because it infringed on the IOC’s copyright of 2010. A second banner design, which was never publicly unveiled, was axed because the Olympic rings were in the design.

Thursday’s unveiling was the end of an eight-month process for the Squamish Chamber of Commerce and its 2010 committee.

While Furlong’s words’ were reassuring, many stakeholders have voiced concerns that when the Olympics arrive "the show" will literally drive through town at 90 km/h. But Furlong addressed this point by suggesting that people will come back to Squamish even if they happen to miss the opportunity during the Olympics.

"The Olympics is the drawing card to get the people of the world to come here," he said. "What we do and how we conduct ourselves while they’re here is going to be a key as to whether they come back or not.

"One of the most interesting statistics for me as a result of the Sydney Olympics was that in the 11 months that followed the Sydney Games there was a billion dollars of additional convention business in Sydney.

"And the legacy for Squamish is dramatically more obvious than it is for other communities miles away from the Olympic theatre."

Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland conceded he had felt some frustration with VANOC but indicated that there would be a lot in the Olympics for Squamish.

"As long as we don’t sit back and feel like we’re owed something by somebody we’ll be fine," said Sutherland. "Like everybody else we get impatient at times but we also understand that the Olympics is a big, big job for Mr. Furlong and his group and it does take a while to get going on these types of projects.

"At the end of the day if you take a step back and realize that we’re half way in between Vancouver and Whistler; we’re in the middle of what’s going to happen. And if we do our job properly we should be able to take advantage of all the opportunities that come our way in the next five to 10 years."