Jul 1, 2004 | Marmot, Summer 2005

Olympic Legacy… A New Mountain Sports Centre?

The Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Society and Spirit of B.C. Communities Committee have submitted a $3.2 million proposal to Legacies Now to fund a premier Nordic Training Centre at Mount Washington.

“The application went in just before the election and includes amenities to the Park, a Mountain Sports Centre, hostel for accommodations and half a million dollars in trail and electrical upgrades to facilitate high-end competition,” said Don Sharpe, Resort Director, Business Services. “We have yet to hear back, but we’ve been hearing positive overtones,” he said.

The V.I. Mountain Sport Society has taken over the Training Centre bid from Mount Washington in order to take advantage of grant opportunities. “The more we got into the project the more we realized this is more of a community issue than a mountain issue. It makes sense,” Sharpe said. “We as a company may not be able to access government funding for Olympic initiatives that the society can.”

The project, which Mount Washington hopes will draw international-calibre athletes to train in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics, has received community support up and down Vancouver Island.

“We consider the community to be all of Vancouver Island,” Sharpe said. A Resort contingent attended the Vancouver Island Association for Coastal Communities in Courtenay last spring, and community-wide support for a Mount Washington Training Centre was unparalleled, he said.

“There was a motion put to the floor to endorse the concept and it was passed unanimously.”

From a Comox Valley perspective, the Mountain Sport Society and Spirit of B.C. Communities Committee have made presentations to all municipal councils, Rotary clubs and other service groups, and Sharpe said he is encouraged by the feedback he is hearing. “Everyone thought it was a wonderful idea and ‘carry on’,” he said. Sharpe said he hopes to hear an answer on the Legacies Now proposal before the end of summer.

If the project is given the go-ahead, they might be able to break ground before the mountain’s building envelope closes in September. If not, they will solidify their plans through the winter and break ground
in the spring of 2006.

In the meantime, the community committee has started to focus its energy how to lure international teams to the new training centre. The committee met late in June to discuss a cohesive strategy: members want to create a targeted message, and find teams that might have a link to Vancouver Island. The committee is contemplating sending a group to the World Cup event at Silver Star next winter to talk to international athletes.

The committee is also poised to create a website highlighting local Olympic initiatives. “We’e in the process right now of deciding who will get the contract and then we’ll go and develop the website,” Sharpe said.

The community committee was active last winter, organizing a welcome home event for Olympic silver medallist rower Tom Herschmiller, and a countdown event at Simms Millennium Park in Courtenay to mark the halfway point to the 2010 Olympics.

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