Olympic venue cleanup taking longer

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The remnants of early spring snowstorms are wreaking havoc with the cleanup of Cypress Mountain, three months after it hosted 2010 Winter Olympics events.

The original deadline was June 15, but Dick Vollet of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee said work at the West Vancouver site will continue through July.

“It depends on how fast we can get things done and how fast the snow melts,” said Vollet, VANOC's vice-president of mountain venues.

Snow still covers most of the skicross and snowboardcross courses and halfpipe. Less snow remains on the freestyle skiing aerials and moguls runs.

“The big effort now is to remove the straw,” Vollet said. “There is some (TV and data) cabling left; that’s scheduled to come out in the next couple of weeks.”

When warmer, wetter El Nino-influenced weather washed snow from the slopes in January, VANOC imported 900 bales of straw which were covered by snow airlifted from higher elevations at Cypress or trucked 160 kilometres from Manning Provincial Park. The straw is to be dried and taken to Richmond for composting. Wood planks and random debris like water bottles will also be removed.

“Ski areas in the spring always look pretty ugly anyway because when the snow leaves there’s always a major cleanup,” Vollet said.

Vollet said VANOC is meeting regularly with British Columbia Parks and Cypress Mountain Recreations.

Bruce MacArthur of West Vancouver’s Old Growth Conservancy said VANOC and its contractors are “not doing a bad job, they’re just a little bit slow.”

“They were all gung-ho and used every method available to get this thing underway but they don’t use every method available to clean it up and get it back in good public use,” MacArthur said.

Cypress was the site of Canada's biggest outdoor medals haul with four gold and two silver medals.

Alexandre Bilodeau of Montreal began the parade to the top of the podium Feb. 14 when he won the historic first Olympic gold medal in Canada by a Canadian. Maelle Ricker of Squamish, B.C. followed with gold in snowboardcross.

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