After a decade of planning and two weeks of celebrating, the Winter Games have come to a close. And while it may take years before the Whistler community understands exactly how Canada's largest sporting event in history has impacted the resort municipality, people are slowly starting to consider the ramifications.
This week, Pique Newmagazine spoke to community members about what Whistler can take away from the Games. And while no one had a finite answer to the question, almost everyone agreed the vibrancy and local pride were some of the greatest outcomes of the Olympics.
"Clearly the village handled this event incredibly well," said Drew Meredith, former mayor and realtor. "I think most people that I have been talking to that grew up in the village are so impressed to see it used for what it was originally intended - not that it was built for the Olympics but it was clearly built for a larger crowd than we have ever had."
Meredith pointed out that Whistler needs to stay focused on marketing and building business.
"I think the number one issue that Whistler faces is to build our occupancy and get the business back on stable footing," said Meredith. "We have been suffering for several years and this was the opportunity to shift gears and hopefully come out at the end of the Games with a new Whistler. We definitely showed it off to the world and hopefully that will help us, but clearly the focus of the community has to be on business development."
Garry Watson, long-time community member and former councillor, went so far as to call the energy in Whistler Village throughout the Winter Games "glorious."
"The village was designed for people, with the pedestrian walkways, and that succeeded so well," said Watson. "To see it so full of people was very exciting."
Watson even met with the village's original planner, Eldon Beck, for a fireside chat at one point during the Games. Watson said Beck was blown away at how vibrant the place was.
"He was very excited to see the village so lively," said Watson.
The athletes' village, the CT Scanner, Whistler Olympic Park and the level of volunteerism were also true legacies from the Games, added Watson.
"I would say the greatest legacy of the Games is the athletes' village and the conversion of that to affordable restricted employee housing," said Watson. "That is a very significant social need, and that is what we got. That to me justifies the whole Olympics."
Greg McDonnell, from Whistler Community Services Society, pointed to the community connection as an important asset from the Games.