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Whistler awaits Vancouver plebiscite on Games



People in Whistler, whether they are for or against the Olympics, will be closely watching Vancouver’s plebiscite on the 2010 Games tomorrow, Feb. 22.

After all, the 293,000 voters in Vancouver hold Whistler’s Olympic future in their hands as well.

"In the forums in Vancouver there seems to be no perception that (no-voters) could be denying Whistler the Olympics and denying the Games to the rest of the province and the rest of the country," said long time Whistler resident Garry Watson.

Whistler has been working to win an Olympics since the early 1960s. Bids were put forward for the 1968 and 1976 Games, and lesser efforts were made to attract the 1972 and 1980 Olympics. Many lay the development of the village in the late ’70s and onwards at the foot of the original bid for the Games, which acted as a catalyst for the development of Whistler Mountain.

"The village of Whistler may not have happened if it had not been for the Olympic bid and there has been an on-going benefit flowing from that and not just for Whistler," said Watson.

Last year a grass roots movement got under way in the community to host a referendum here on the Games.

But Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said at the time a referendum was the wrong way to go, as there simply were not enough details available about the bid for people to make an informed choice.

Today, although optimistic about a positive plebiscite out come, he is still concerned.

"It’s risky," he said.

"As a community we chose not to go that route for that reason."

He believes Vancouver residents understand they are not just voting for themselves.

"People in Vancouver are getting messages from friends and calls saying, ‘hey, you are representing me in Nova Scotia. Think about that,’" said O’Reilly.

"This isn’t just about Vancouver. This is about our country and I think there has been that kind of understanding over the last few days and hopefully it will come to a crescendo on the 22 nd and people will get out and take all the information in totality and cast their vote representing that.

"The reality is that Vancouver is having to shoulder more responsibility than for just Vancouver. They are really shouldering it for Whistler, the province and for Canada because the support across the country is huge."

O’Reilly sees the plebiscite as a key day for the bid to win the Games.

"You can’t deny it," he said.