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VANOC on schedule, on budget

Draws $2 million from contingency fund for venue construction

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Whistler Venues

• The men’s and women’s downhill runs will be completed this summer, along with a training run and expanded snowmaking system. “One challenge we’re having this year is the late season snowpack, which means crews are working on eight different job sites around the mountain,” said Doyle. “We also noticed a nesting robin at one job site, and moved away from that site to another until we can go back in there.”

• Work is underway on all sections of the sliding centre track, and the construction of on-site buildings will take place over the summer. The refrigeration system is also in the process of being installed and will be tested by autumn. “Crews are working on every inch of that track, which is over a kilometre long,” said Doyle.

• The ski jump is being assembled in the Nordic centre, and the tracks for cross-country and biathlon racing are nearly complete. VANOC also got the go-ahead to build an expanded network of trails in the Callaghan to enhance its use as a training facility and legacy for the Nordic community.

Doyle also noted that construction was beginning in earnest for both athletes villages, with the installation of site servicing, roads, and the foundations of the first buildings. The first buildings should be raised at both sites by the end of the year.

According to John Furlong, chief executive officer of VANOC, some other notable milestones will be reached in 2007.

This fall VANOC will announce its official Olympic and Paralympic mascots, said Furlong. Right now the concepts are a closely guarded secret.

By the end of the year Furlong also hopes to announce a ticketing plan for the Games, including ticket prices.

VANOC has also been addressing a controversy that has arisen as a result of plans to spend $44.5 million on raises and bonuses for staff. According to Furlong, the money includes cost-of-living raises for all staff in the neighbourhood of three per cent a year, as well as a bonus plan for staff members who stay until after the Games. By the time the Games take place, VANOC will have a staff of 1,400 employees.

“What has happened with other Games is that staff members leave early because they get offers, or because they know their job expires after the Games and they are looking for more security,” said Furlong. “It’s fairly common to have these plans in place to retain staff. I know the Commonwealth Games had plans in place, that Expo 86 had plans in place. The purpose of that money has been spelled out in that section of the business plan, and only staff that stay until the end will receive bonuses.”