Whistler council supports Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid

Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympic bid cleared another hurdle Monday night.

The town council in Whistler, B.C. voted 6-1 in favour of endorsing the bid to bring the games to B.C.'s Sea To Sky corridor.

Whistler, a resort village located 90 kilometres north of Vancouver, is the proposed location for Alpine skiing, as well as the sliding events of skeleton, bobsleigh and luge.

Over 300 concerned citizens and politicians attended the 5 1/2 hour-long meeting. They debated the bid's viability and its economics.

Most of the people who spoke at the meeting favoured the Olympic proposal. Others shared concerns that the Olympics could increase the cost of living in the area and bring about a shortage of affordable housing.

"Unfortunately, a lot of those concerns are here whether we have the Olympics or not," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O'Reilly.

"The Olympics actually provide opportunities for us to have some legacies and address that."

Vancouver 2010 Bid officials have proposed a $2 billion operating budget for the Games.

But the budget balloons to over $5 billion when the cost of upgrading the Sea To Sky highway between Whistler and Vancouver, construction of a new convention centre and a light rail transit line connecting Vancouver's downtown with the airport are considered.

The provincial and federal governments have offered a combined $620 million to build venues and facilities.

The B.C. government says the Olympics could generate up to $10 billion in economic activity and could create over 225,000 jobs.

"As a Whistler resident I see a lot of things coming to us that will make our community better," said former Olympic downhill skier Steve Podborski, a member of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp.

"As an Olympian I know it's going to make our sporting world better. It just makes sense."

The federal and provincial government have offered a combined $620 million to build facilities.

Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea are the two other finalists competing against Vancouver for the 2010 Games. The winner is announced in Prague on July 2, 2003.

Last month, Bern, Switzerland, withdrew its bid after a majority of referendum voters opposed a loan of $7 million to co-finance the national bid.

With from files from Canadian Press