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Volunteer board made athletes’ village a reality

Whistler Development Corporation prepares to hand new neighbourhood to Olympic organizers

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Seeing this development through to completion, however, is different than overseeing other projects, and, have no doubt, Martin and Moodie's list is long and accomplished; the former working on major developments in the Lower Mainland and locally such as the Meadow Park Sports Centre, the latter helping create the original Whistler village in the late '70s.

"This is a public exercise and you're building a community for the future and for residents that live here," said Moodie. "That puts quite a different flavour on it."

It was those former private enterprises in Whistler that were part of the reason for volunteering for the athletes' village.

"Whistler's been pretty good to me and my family over the years," said Moodie.

On top of that, the project, said Martin, intrigued him.

"The challenge was, how do we take this from the bid, which is a temporary housing project, and turn it into something much more fruitful?" said Martin.

The answer to that question proved complex and there were many pieces that needed to fall into place before the development could become a reality, not the least of which was meeting a sizeable funding gap in the business plan.

That has been one of the biggest challenges, coming in on budget.

"I actually take the responsibility more seriously than I would on a private board almost because it's public money, it's taxpayers' money," said Martin. "And I see enough examples of taxpayers' money being wasted that that really bothers me."

When the Resort Municipality of Whistler came to the table with more than $8 million in additional hotel tax revenue, the project had its lifeline.

It was up to the board to steer it toward the finish line.

Whistler's success in building the village can't help but be juxtaposed against Vancouver's disappointment. Vancouver's problem-plagued $1 billion athletes' village project is about $130 million over budget.

Martin was asked to sit on Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's Olympic Village advisory board early this year to help see the project through to completion and mitigate taxpayer exposure.

He is confident however, that like the Whistler village, the Vancouver village will be a great place for the athletes during the Games.

And while the keys to the Whistler village go to VANOC this month, the boardmembers' job is far from over.

The WDC board will continue to meet and work over the winter as they prepare to convert the units from athlete mode to resident mode after the Games.