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VANOC to pay for street banners

Olympic organizers veto banners for second time John French The Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) is taking some responsibility and apologizing for setting back Squamish's street banner program.

Olympic organizers veto banners for second time

John French

The Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) is taking some responsibility and apologizing for setting back Squamish's street banner program.

The Olympic-themed banners were supposed to be unveiled on Monday (Nov. 15) but the event was cancelled because the banners were deemed to still violate Olympic copyrights despite VANOC's prior approval of the banner.

Just days before the scheduled unveiling of the banners, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) marketing team expressed concern and the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, which sold the banners to local businesses to fund Olympic-related initiatives, was forced to postpone the event.

According to Sam Corea, VANOC's media relations co-ordinator, VANOC was initially concerned about the text elements on the banner and that issue was resolved when '2010' was removed from the design. Corea said the IOC was also concerned with the graphic elements in the design, hich include five stylized rings. That concern led to the withdrawal of VANOC's approval.

Bob Brant, who co-ordinated the Chamber's banner initiative, said 128 banners were sold to 54 separate sponsors. For $650 the sponsors bought 2 banners, a recognition tail and installation of the banners.

Chamber president Gord Prescott focused on moving forward.

"It is a shame that the timing was as tight as it came out but from the very beginning, including the earlier version of the banners, we set out to work with the then Olympic bid committee and now the Olympic organizing committee to raise the profile for the Olympics and opportunities for the business community," Prescott said. "I think they were sympathetic to the timing also. In the end we'll see a delay of three, maybe four weeks, for the banners going up."

Prescott said he is not particularly unhappy with the situation and called it unfortunate.

"It is more important to be working with them then getting into a confrontation with them at this stage," Prescott said.

Mayor Ian Sutherland said this week that he was frustrated by VANOC's decision but he spoke with John Furlong on Monday and the mayor said Furlong apologized for the confusion. According to Sutherland, things are being worked out.

"Our frustrations stem from the fact that Squamish has been a big booster from the very beginning," said Sutherland. "We feel like we are kind of being shunted to the side as the process continues along."

Sutherland said that a compromise was reached on the issue of the now-useless banners.

"VANOC is going to pay for the cost of producing new banners," said Sutherland. "Hopefully through this process VANOC and Mr. Furlong have learned that they have rules but they have to apply some common sense to what they are doing."

Corea said VANOC and the Chamber of Commerce are working together to finalize an agreement on how to share the costs of producing new banners.

"We are taking some responsibility and will assist the chamber," said Corea. "I don't know what the dollar figure will be yet."

Corea is encouraging all artists and graphic designers to think carefully when designing work that might be considered an infringement of words, phrases or logos protected by the Olympic movement.

"We will be working with the Squamish Cham-ber to find an agreeable solution for a new design that does not infringe on the Olympic rings," said Corea.

Sutherland feels that the Squamish Chamber of Commerce should not be treated like other commercial operators who are using Olympic symbols and phrases because the Chamber is working with VANOC to promote the games.

"Two years ago the folks in charge were more than glad to get their picture taken with the banner," Sutherland said. "The Chamber is in a different league."

Everybody is learning, both Corea and Sutherland said.

Local graphic designer Patricia Heintzman created the artwork for the controversial banner. She incorporated into the banner a First Nations Spirit Animal designed by Squamish nation Chief Ian Campbell.

Heintzman has created three new banner designs that will be presented to VANOC for approval. She wants Chamber members to ultimately choose which design will go on the poles around town.

Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland, Ian Tait of LegaciesNow, Maureen Douglas of VANOC, Chief Leanne Joe of the Squamish Nation and local business person Steve Cook were all expected to be part of the banner unveiling.

Cook was the first person to sign up to buy one of the $650 banners.

Tait, the Community Legacy Initiatives Director with 2010 LegaciesNow, didn't want to comment on the banner situation when he visited Squamish for a meeting with locals involved in Olympic initiatives.

That's something with the organizing committee," said Tait.

The meeting Tait had in Squamish was productive, he said. Tait is touring the province to create a relationship between the communities and the LegaciesNow.

"2010 LegaciesNow is working with community committees around B.C. to leverage Olympic and non-Olympic community opportunities in the areas of sport and recreation, arts and culture, tourism and convention, trade and investment, procurement, human resources, literacy and volunteerism," said Tait.

He spent two hours speaking with locals about the opportunities that exist relating to the Olympics.