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Plaza of Nations to be Outgames cultural centre

Will host opening ceremonies

Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations is set to become the cultural epicentre of the 2011 North America Outgames. City staff have given games chair John Boychuk the green light to proceed with the special event application process for the site.

The site will play host to the opening and medal ceremonies, concerts and various other community-focused events during the weeklong games, scheduled to run from July 25 to 31.

He says the games committee had initially considered holding the ceremonies at David Lam Park, but the Vancouver Park Board turned down its proposal because the site was already promised to the summer Jazz Festival and the grounds will need maintenance prior to the fall. Boychuk says the Sheraton Wall Centre front lawn was also a space the Outgames wanted for its women’s zone, but that proposal was rejected due to noise and traffic concerns, he says.

Boychuk says the ceremony site at the Plaza of Nations was secured through an agreement between contracted Outgames event producers John Donnelly and Associates and the Edgewater Casino, which leases the land from Plaza of Nation owners Canadian Metropolitan Properties.

Donnelly and Associates spokesperson Diana Hambrook confirmed that the site has been contracted as the game’s cultural hub.

Although the city does not own the site, it maintains control over permit requirements for special events held there.

“Even if a site is on private property, we get involved in some aspect of it [event planning],” explains Muriel Honey, manager of film and special events with the city.

Honey says games organizers must now submit a comprehensive site plan detailing how safety and bylaw issues will be addressed during the games.

Boychuk says an event site plan is being created and will be submitted with various permit applications to city licensing departments by the end of March.

Once the special permit applications are in, Honey says, there is no set timeline for city approval. “It [approval] can take two weeks, two months or two days.”

The Outgames have “lots of time to keep proceeding,” she adds. “We’ve never had an event not able to proceed.”