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Village to come alive in 2010, with federal help

Partners plan for village-wide Live Site during 2010 Games

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Whistler will soon be asking the federal government for $10 million to put on the biggest show the village has ever seen.

The money will be used for both capital infrastructure and programming during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of the Live Sites program in Whistler — the place where everybody will gather to share in the Olympic spirit.

Pending council’s approval, staff will make the submission in early October.

“In Whistler we’ve got this wonderful opportunity,” said John Rae, the municipality’s manager of strategic alliances. “The result should be… an extraordinary experience for local residents, the nation and the world.”

In Monday’s presentation to members of the Chamber of Commerce, which only a handful turned out to hear, Rae revealed the early plans for “village animation” during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While the finer details are not confirmed, there is a sense of enormous preparation already well underway for an action-packed multi-day celebration. The highlights include nightly concerts after the Olympic medals presentations, live broadcast feeds from the competition venues on big screen TVs, and renowned artists and performers showcasing Canada’s stories and culture to the world.

Rae asked the crowd to picture Christmas week in the village and multiply that by two.

“It’ll be busy,” he said.

A working group is also exploring the concept of “White Nights”, where businesses stay open throughout the night as people revel in the Olympic spirit.

Business owners were encouraged to give feedback and the meeting revealed there was some angst about timelines and the need for more information.

Kennedy Raine, owner of the Great Glass Elevator Candy Shop, reinforced the point that business owners need time to plan and schedule. If the shops are allowed to be open until midnight or throughout the night, she needs to know so she can staff appropriately. She wants to ensure that not only her family, but her staff, get to experience the Olympics first-hand and not be working around the clock.

“We’re talking a year out to plan that sort of thing,” she said.

Waiting until the fall of 2009 for the detailed plans is simply not enough time, she added.

Maureen Douglas, director of communications for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC), assured the audience that businesses would have the information in a timely manner in order to plan. Some information, particularly around transportation, venue operations, volunteerism and public safety and security, will be released in information sessions this fall. More detailed information will be available in the fall of 2008. By the fall of 2009, VANOC will be releasing the most detailed information down to the exact arrival and departure times of every bus.

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