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Anti-Olympics mood deepens in Whistler

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Just seven months before the Games open, the mood in Canada’s famed resort town (of Whistler) is anything but celebratory. In fact, there is growing anti-Olympic sentiment created by double-digit tax hikes and new user fees that residents feel are being levied to help pay for what many see as a three-week-long party.”

“The source of their grievances ranges from a proposed 20-per-cent property-tax hike over the next three years, to a decision to charge for parking in previously free lots. Environmentalists were angry when a sensitive wetlands habitat became the chosen site for a new bus facility that will be used to accommodate a fleet of hydrogen buses Premier Gordon Campbell promised to showcase at the Games. …Then, more trees had to come down near the town centre to build Celebration Plaza, where Olympic medals will be handed out. …Few are happy either that the local high school will be closed for the 17-day duration of the Games…”

“(Lawyer and former councillor Nancy) Wilhelm-Morden said it is becoming increasingly expensive for the middle-to-low-income earners who make up the bulk of the resort’s year-round population of nearly 10,000. ‘A lot of those people are starting to feel like they’re being driven out of here,’ she said. ‘If that happens, it would be really tragic for Whistler, a real loss, because the people who live and work here are what make the place so special for visitors.'”

“Perhaps underlying the growing angst is the feeling that Whistler hasn’t been calling many of the shots when it comes to its Olympic involvement. That it’s become a town run by outsiders, namely the Vancouver Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee. A charge the mayor doesn’t dispute.”

“Those sounding the alarm about the Olympics have one thing in common: an intense feeling of ownership and love of their town. They are increasingly worried that the very things that attracted them to Whistler in the first place are slowly disappearing. They are feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change and under siege by the associated costs of the Olympics.”

The full article is at http://theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/anti-olympics-mood-deepens-in-whistler/article1214838/.