Most Canadians see benefit from Olympics

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Now is a good time for reflection.

I would say that the Olympics were a resounding success. Financially I'd say we paid an appropriate amount and I very much suspect that the course of time will prove it to have been a sound financial endeavour as well as a moment in history that brought Canada closer together.

This is a bit of an aside, but I can't wait for all the Olympic trappings to be packed away and
we start seeing some of the legacy benefits.

I've been working at the curling facility throughout the Olympics and am volunteering again
during the Paralympics. The first thing I noticed was that they didn't really build a curling
facility!

They built a huge community centre complex. The aquatic centre is absolutely gorgeous, big,
and looks to be very, very fun (dry, wet saunas, huge whirlpools, children's water features
inside and out, springboards and a couple platforms). There's also a huge weight-room, a
gymnasium, a library, and a hockey rink (that's where the curling is actually being played).
They aren't actually rebuilding the dedicated curling facility until after the olympics. Even
most of the seating in the ice-rink is temporary.

Oh, and all the structures at the Vancouver Olympic Centre (the curling venue/community
centre) were built to LEED Gold standards, which is pretty cool.

Certainly a lot of money was spent by VanOC on the games themselves, even at the curling
facility, but it was obvious that this was kept to the barest minimum possible. I was stationed
in the athlete tent where the athletes' lounge and dressing rooms are. It was a cold, drafty,
spartan temporary structure. They spared pretty much every expense in building it! For
anybody who watched any curling, you probably noticed the same lack of fit and finish on the
games-only infrastructure. It was all curtains, plywood, and tents, with a slap of paint and
some stickers where the cameras were pointed.

While I froze my butt off for two and a half weeks (turns out a water bottle filled with hot tap
water in your pocket under your blue jacket makes a great personal heater), but I was happy
that they cut all the corners they could and still put on such an amazing celebration that was
the games themselves. It made me proud of what Vancouver was doing with the Olympic
money.

It was very apparent that the 'legacy use' of the venues was not just lip service. That's why I
can't wait for a half-year or so to pass, and we start getting an idea of just what we got out
of what the disingenuous call a '$6 Billion two-week party'.

One week is enough reflection?

And what the hell is an 'appropriate' amount?

The cost/benefits of this won't be known for years, if ever.

Sure, most of us got a fuzzy feeling inside to declare it a success or 'worth it' is just a tad premature.

I agree with Kermit that it's awfully soon to be able to gauge the degree of success. Also, as has been shown in many venues as well as in this very forum, questions of spending are fraught with difficulties of definitions. There have definitely been costs, and there are benefits. What exactly falls under each and how much of which caused how much of the other are very subjective and may never be known beyond various opinions. Compounding the difficulty is the lack of knowledge of what would have happened without the Games. It was definitely a success from the perspective of participants, but in the big picture it's extremely difficult to say the same.

riley/hillcrest will be a new destination rec facility. from what ive heard the pool side will be opening up in the spring/summer but the rest of the building will take a lot longer for conversion (be ready sometime in 2011).

WRT legacies - I think Derek Moscato sums it up best in this Metro article from a few days ago. I completely agree that the most critical 'legacy' of these games must be a better transit system along with cultural refinement of the stigma of using it. Erm...add to that more childhood physical fitness - ok two critical legacies...
:)
M

YourMom, you're totally right about those two transit issues. Translink has to continue pushing it, though; the Monday following the closing traffic into downtown returned to pre-Games levels, or maybe a little worse since some of the roads were still closed. This suggests that the reduction in traffic during the Games wasn't because people had changed their ways, but more likely that people had either stayed home, left town, or "resigned themselves" to using transit, not really considering it as a permanent option, or else being turned off by the (abnormally large) crowds.

m2c By m2c

The reflection will take some time, and the benifits won't be as easy to see as a new Rec Centre or Curling facility (which are both great). Like Expo, it will take 10 or 20 years for people to look back and say "That was when it all changed".

Transit is a big possible positive and I hope that ridership increases. As with the Expo line, the Canada Line will see increased density along the route and increased ridership over time. Same with the Evergreen line if it happens. Even as a life long car driver I still want to keep increasing the alternative types of commuting options. More bike lanes. If the Burrard bridge and the Olympics showed us anything it showed that we can adapt to changes, the world does not end when you change the use of a few lanes.

So was it all worth it? Hard to say, maybe we will never know. The next big debate will be around the Athletes Village and how much we get for those condos. If the City takes a big loss there the haters will be quick off the mark with a big "I told you so". If not then they will take their place with the people who were telling everyone for the past year that traffic in Vancouver would be gridlock for the Olympics. Strange we didn't hear from them during the games!

Brian

It's not a few lanes that need changing, and this government/translink are unwilling/unable to make it happen.

The need for rapid transit down Broadway was recognized at least 15 years ago, we are at least another 15 from it being reality. The Evergreen line has been promised dozens of times. Meanwhile, we build the golden ears, sea to sky, 10 lanes down the valley, twin the port mann, SFPR, etc etc etc.

It's lunacy to invest in 50's technology but we're going full steam ahead. The olympics have shown us to be an adaptable city, but it's clear the powers that be are incapable.

Kermit: "It's lunacy to invest in 50's technology but we're going full steam ahead. The
olympics have shown us to be an adaptable city, but it's clear the powers that be are
incapable."

You don't get to be one of the 'powers that be' if you try to do many of those things before
the populace wants it. Sad but true.

It's all but futile to try to change a politician's mind. It's practically a job requirement for
them to follow the conventional wisdom and not make waves. If you do succeed in swaying a
pol, they still have to change the populace's mind in order to actually do anything.

Politicians have more incentive to stick to the status quo than the public (which includes
business), so it's probably more useful to focus on education and outreach and selling
practical solutions, than it is to complain about the politicians. After all, the politicians *are*
representing the populace. The problem is that the populace is wrong.

Nothing will happen without a shift in popular opinion and desires.

Trust me, I'm almost as pessimistic as Kermit when it comes to our prospects for a sustainable region / economy. Liberal provincial gov and Translink not withstanding, I think that at the local government level things are, at the very least, pointed in the right direction.

Case in point: City of Vancouver - one of the "greenest cities" in the world. Poke and prod the metrics of "green" all you want, but the bottom line is we are leading in almost every way imaginable, given our north american context:

- lowest per capita GHG emissions of any major n. american city
- with a 27% increase in population (1990 to present), has managed to reduce GHG emissions to pre-1990 levels
- all new homes must be pre-piped for solar; and must provide charging points for electric vehicles
- leading edge neighbourhood-scale renewable energy projects (SE false creek, par example)
- greenest building code (for new houses) in the continent (lucky them, the rest of BC's local govs are not allowed to do what they're doing with respect to building code).
- 1994 - 2004 cycling expanded 180% with a bike route network that expanded 32% since 2006
- transit use is up 50% since '99
- progressive economic development strategy that places green industry / clean tech at the forefront of its priorities

If you acknowledge that communities across BC are striving to achieve similar GHG reduction targets (Dawson Cr; Delta; Smithers; Prince George to name a few of the front runners), I'd say we are on the right track. The ever-increasing carbon tax will help speed things up too.

Don't worry, I'm aware of the roadblocks that lie ahead. But every year more and more enlightened planners and engineers are graduating and filling key staff positions at all levels of government. And, yes, some of them might even become a politician. I'm hopeful hopeful hopeful....(or at least, keep telling myself as much).

M

"If not then they will take their place with the people who were telling everyone for the past year that traffic in Vancouver would be gridlock for the Olympics. Strange we didn't hear from them during the games!"

It would be more accurate to say that those warnings contained a qualifier, to the effect of 'unless we change our transportation behaviour during the Olympics there will be traffic chaos."

The reason there wasn't traffic chaos was because that message went out again and again and enough people took note and changed their commuting patterns. Suggesting that those who issued the warning should eat crow for some reason makes no sense.

Keam: " Suggesting that those who issued the warning should eat crow for some reason
makes no sense."

You're right, for those that issued that qualified warning.

However, there were a lot of doom-sayers that said it was going to be a nightmare. No
qualifications whatsoever.

It's those same people that said the Burrard Bridge bike lane was going to be a nightmare,
and it'll be those same people that say the same thing for every lane-foot of road that's
reduced or otherwise used for non-SOV traffic.

There's a strong fear of change that has to be overcome before any improvements can
happen.

"Nothing will happen without a shift in popular opinion and desires."

Nothing will happen. Sad but true. Peoples' desires and opinions have changed little in 10,000 years, we just got more and more adept at fulfilling the most facile desires, and catering to the least well-reasoned opinions. Maybe 10--15% of the people are willing to make the necessary sacrifices but that's a very optimistic guesstimate based upon the number of single occupant vehicles still driving downtown every day, the amount of junk in our landfills, and the general attitude exhibited by the average punter.

The condo building (planet) is on fire and the strata council is high-fiving each other because the new carpets (Olympics) in the lobby really pulls the whole room together. Too funny.

Keam: "The condo building (planet) is on fire and the strata council is high-fiving each other
because the new carpets (Olympics) in the lobby really pulls the whole room together. Too
funny."

Yeah, but the good news is that heating costs are dropping.

All of that is great, but for every new building with a plug for an electric car there are 12 new subdivisions up the valley. Vancouver does some things well, but the fact that half the skytrain stations in town, after being here for 25 years, are still surrounded by single family...?

And the Carbon tax? It would mean something if the money from that went back into 'green' stuff, but it doesn't--it goes to building roads!

Kermit, that post reminded me an awful lot like every knee jerk reactionary "that'll never work" response I've received from traditional, close-minded councillors when presented with an innovative or new approach to municipal planning or policy. It's super easy to be negative but not necessarily constructive.

That being said, with regards to your comment about suburbia, I was shocked to read that 900acres of ALR land is currently in consideration for removal from the ALR for future development in Abbotsford alone. Sickening.

Knee jerk?

I'm commenting on how the City of Vancouver is spending time making sure new buildings have plugs while resisting density around skytrain nodes. Seriously reducing GHG and being more 'green' isn't about plugs, it's about land use. I know, I know, I'm simplyfing it. But sprawl out in the valley does x times more damange than the plusses of new plugs and other 'green' stuff.

Your 900 acre example is exactly it. Abbotsford is filling the housing gap left by Vancouver because the demand isn't being met by vancouver and because that demand isn't being met the prices are sky high.

Kermit,

Are you saying that CoV is actively resisting development around stations? I find that hard to believe. Besides, there are all of 4 stations that are more than 10 years old and aren't surrounded by dense development. densification doesn't necessarily happen quickly.

Sprawl in the valley may be in part the result of the increasing cost of houses in Vancouver, but most of the people fleeing to the Valley are doing so in order to be able to afford a _house_ instead of a condo. Again, it comes back to the masses putting themselves first. (Actually, if the CoV were preventing densification that would prevent the reduction of single-family housing stock and thus prevent some of the exodus to the Valley. Also, there's very little the city can do to control house prices.) Regardless, pinning Abbotsford's development of the ALR on CoV is quite a stretch - there are many places in between where derelict warehouses and such could be redevelopped instead of taking away agricultural land. Also, although this sounds a bit NIMBY, Vancouver does have to think about its own progress, and can't be charged with managing the entire Lower Mainland.

Resisting? The City is doing everything in its power to facilitate (remove barriers to) more density and market rental housing at transit nodes. EcoDensity and the Cambie Corridor Planning Program are two initiatives that spring to mind. The Director of Planning himself is well versed in what needs to be done wrt transit oriented development, as is the Mayor.

It would prevent the reduction of single family homes, but the skyrockting prices make them unaffordable for many.

Ignoring the downtown stations, there are Commercial, Nanaimo and 29th Ave that have been around for 25 years. Development may be slow, it ain't that slow. Look at Burnaby, look at Richmond and the Canada Line! And then look at Cambie. They are just starting to think about densifying around that corridor.

I'm not here to bash Vancouver, but if Vancovuer is the 'green' capital of North America, it doesn't really mean much when it's surrounded by sprawling suburbs, helped by a provincial government supplying all the infrastructure for it.

your mom:

Writing documents and putting them on the ground are two different things. ;)

Yeah, but the good news is that heating costs are dropping.

It's the locally grown avocados and bananas in my lifetime that have me stoked! :-)

Yes, just like local governments and developers are two different things (most of the time) ;)

OK, the comment about reducing the single-family housing stock wasn't serious. The comment about the city not having control over housing prices in a free market was.

As for those four stations not being major population centres, as YourMom pointed out, developers and the market dictate to some extent when things get built. The fact that it hasn't yet implies that either nobody has wanted condos/apartments in those areas, or the oportunity has yet to develop. Short of major (very costly) tax incentives and/or forcible eviction, the City can't really control either of those. I don't know the history of the expo line, but I'm willing to guess that some of those stations were built around existing population centres. As for Cambie and Richmond, anything that exists or is planned along that line was certainly in the pipes prior to the lines' existence. Again, according to market demands.

Vancouver may be surrounded by less-progressive municipalities, but there's very little it can do about that. What it can do it is doing - improving itself and leading by example. Any criticism of the suburbs should be leveled at the provincial gov't, the outer municipal governments and the regional municipalities (MV, FVRD). If the Dalai Lama was living in the midst of corruption and violence (you could argue that he is...) would that make him any less respectable?

Again, I'm not bashing Vancouver. But its steps pale in comparison to the real problems.

Developers want to build where they can make the most money. Those stations have been around through building booms and busts. There are new developments all over Burnaby, Richmond, hell even Surrey is getting new towers near its skytrain. I'm sure Vancouver has had some knocks on the door...

Your Dalai Lama examples is good though cause you're right, he isn't any less respectable. But it doesn't change the fact that the corruption and violence around him is the real problem.

Keam: "It's the locally grown avocados and bananas in my lifetime that have me stoked! :-)"

More like oysters and salmon. For those, you'll have to go to the coast, say around Hope.

Is it possible that the single-family dwellings around Nanaimo/29th Ave stations were there before the Expo line? Or that when the line came in back in the mid-80's, people developed those areas in the style of the time, the single-family dwelling? It would seem to me to be quite difficult to throw up big structures when the grounds are populated by many smaller structures, all belonging to individuals looking out for themselves.

m2c By m2c

"The reason there wasn't traffic chaos was because that message went out again and again and enough people took note and changed their commuting patterns. Suggesting that those who issued the warning should eat crow for some reason makes no sense."

Sorry CK, but there is no way you can make the claim that it was because of the dooms day crowd that there wasn't a problem. Total BS there, like Chicken Little taking credit for the sky NOT falling because he ran around telling everyone it was going to fall.

No matter if you think the Olympics were good or bad for Vancouver, it is fairly clear that the operational part of the games were as well organized as just about anything ever has been. Part of that was to make decisions that resulted in the lack of traffic problems. The idea to allow Ticket holders free access to transit wasn't something that they put together in the last few weeks. Traffic patterns, road closures, removal of parking spots, INCREASED TRANSIT CAPACITY, and information put out by the Games (not scare tactics put out by people who just see the bad in everything) all contributed to a successful transportation experiance for the Olympics.

Kudos to VANOC and Translink for handling this very well. This is really a situation where there were so few problems people end up thinking that there was no actual organization taking place in the background. (aka "This tournament seems to just run itself")

Brian

Brian,

I agree with everything you said, except for your interpretation of CK's comment. I think the message he was referring to (that went out again and again) wasn't only from the doomsday crowd, but also the numerous pleas from Translink and the City for people to avoid driving into the core. I also think (cynically) that many who heeded that request did so not to do their part, but out of self-preservation; they left town or made other arrangements to avoid being caught up in the inconvenience.

But kudos are definitely warranted to VANOC and Translink for the way transportation was handled. It surprised me how smoothly it went, and I admit that I was one of those convinced that transportation would be a gong show.

It is interesting that EXPO was invoked as a sort of touchstone for determining the success or failure of the Olympics because I think EXPO demonstrates there is no obvious criterion or set of criteria that point to success or failure.

Determination of success or failure depends on your worldview: EXPO was the antecedent for the development of what was an industrial wasteland and also for wild-eyed real estate speculation. Its greatest legacy is a housing boom that hardly anyone who lives and works here can afford to buy into. This legacy can swell your heart with warm pride or give you night sweats because your mortgage is so huge.

"Sorry CK, but there is no way you can make the claim that it was because of the dooms day crowd that there wasn't a problem."

VANOC, CofV, and Translink were the biggest voices in the 'doomsday' chorus Brian. How many times did we see a media rep from one of those three organizations on the news in the weeks leading up to the games, telling us to leave the car at home?

'(not scare tactics put out by people who just see the bad in everything)"

Please direct me to some examples of this in relation to the Olympics. Most of the criticism I saw about regarding Games issues had pretty much nothing to do with transportation . You've managed to combine a straw man and a red herring to validate your p.o.v.

Keam: "You've managed to combine a straw man and a red herring to validate your p.o.v."

To paraphrase A.t.G.: "I do not think that term means what you think it means."

The straw man is this supposed group of people who hate everything (they don't exist). The red herring is the assertion that they predicted traffic chaos.

I thought Indigo Montoya said that quote.

Sultan Sweety: "I thought Indigo Montoya said that quote."

Erm, would you beleive it was in the deleted scenes?

Some additional 'news' about the finances.

It's amazing how consistent the people who were saying that the entire event would be a disaster are now holding that it's too early to call it a success due to lack of information. Surely a viewpoint that never seemed to stop them before.

That's hardly news. They can claim they're in the black, others can claim they're in the red, and both will be right depending on how they considered the numbers.

They're in by that cone.

I hope we will include the not-insignificant costs for the double digit increase in violent crimes we experienced during the Games in the final accounting.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/03/17/bc-olympic-cr...

Of course we should also calculate the savings from property crime reductions too, but I would argue that very few of those cases are investigated or end up in court, so overall, we will end up paying more on balance.

"It's amazing how consistent the people who were saying that the entire event would be a disaster are now holding that it's too early to call it a success due to lack of information."

I would suggest to you that it was the critics of the Games who kept up the pressure for VANOC to live up to its commitments that helped ensure the success of the Games.

Suggesting they can now be adjudged wrong in predicting the likelihood of problems because it didn't happen after all is a bit faulty in the logic department.

If a passenger urges a driver to stop driving dangerously and they arrive safely at their destination it doesn't give the driver licence (pun intended) to claim they never would have crashed after all.

Keam: "Suggesting they can now be adjudged wrong in predicting the likelihood of problems
because it didn't happen after all is a bit faulty in the logic department."

Uh, no that's the proper conclusion that rational logic dictates. The $1B in security didn't
happen because there was a rabble shouting "$6B on a Two Week Party" or other examples of
their measured and rational critique and risk assessment of the Olympics. That security was
planned for because they had a lot of world expertise devoted to it.

As for the 30% increase in violent crime, while there's a lot to consider from that figure. I'll
throw a couple notes out there:

1. I'm guessing the day-to-day population of Vancouver proper (the focus of the report)
swelled by way more than 30%. Some of that increase from out of town, a lot of that from
the suburbs. I'd love to see the total crime rate for the GVRD over the Olympics.

2. I'm guessing the alcohol consumption in Vancouver proper swelled by way, way, *way*
more than 30%. Alcohol related crime is a problem in our society. As a matter of fact, I think
the city of Vancouver and the police did a great job at mitigating the astronomical influx of
revelers (shutting down liquor stores, etc). While that the city did that makes me a little
uncomfortable, I think I'd have felt less comfortable had they not. At least it was the elected
officials who made the decision, and not the police.

3. That 30% increase in violent crime broke down to 90 more common assaults and 11 more
sexual assaults. Of all of those, Const. Jana McGuinness of the VPD reported that "there were
really no major incidents of note during the Games". It was a female officer describing those
common and sexual assaults as 'minor', by the way. She said of the sexual assualts: "they
could be from as minor as someone bumping into someone in a crowd and maybe it's
reported as a groping, or a relatively minor incident".

--

So, the world came to town and had a raging party for 2 and a half weeks. The *vast*
majority of the revelry was good spirited and absolutely wonderfully supportive of Canada,
other nations, and the Games. With that enormous influx of population and the stupendous
amount of drinking and celebrating, violent crime went from 266 incidents during the same
period in 2009 to 367 incidents during the Olympics, none of which were major.

Keam: "I hope we will include the not-insignificant costs for the double digit increase in
violent crimes we experienced during the Games in the final accounting."

*rollseyes*

If each of those incidents ends up costing on average $1500 to be processed from start to finish (a conservative estimate) we spent over a half million dollars. I'd call that 'not-insignificant'. Especially when its wasted on people cheering over something as pointless as an invisible line on a map. But I've never been much of a flag-waver, given the ultimately divisive nature of patriotism.

Albert Einstein
"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."

Albert Einstein
"Nationalism, on my opinion, is nothing more than an idealistic rationalization for militarism and aggression."

---

"The $1B in security didn't happen because there was a rabble shouting "$6B on a Two Week Party" or other examples of their measured and rational critique and risk assessment of the Olympics."

I'm actually referring to the many critics who held VANOC's feet to the fire on issues such as environmental and social impacts, from the moment the winning bid was announced, not simply the marches or protests during the Games.

And Y2K didn't happen because everyone flipped out and spent billions of dollars making sure they were Y2K compliant.

I think it's a bit much for the vocal opposition to take credit for the apparent success of the Games, especially since in the same breath they still decry its failure.

"I think it's a bit much for the vocal opposition to take credit for the apparent success of the Games, especially since in the same breath they still decry its failure. "

That strikes me as an oversimplification, plus, I don't see the 'vocal opposition' taking any credit. My point was that their work resisting the Games seems to have helped mitigate the negative impacts.

But you had suggested that "it was the critics of the Games who kept up the pressure for VANOC to live up to its commitments that helped ensure the success of the Games." It sounds like you're saying that it was the critics' work that resulted in VANOC doing its job.

It's funny how Keam replies to rational and constructive criticism not with rational discourse, but
with repeated thought-free parroting of pithy slogans: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way", "No
one can know the depth of the lake by standing on the shore", etc., and suggests that if you
don't actually take part, you don't get to criticize.

However, he's blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy involved in crediting 'vocal opposition' (not
necessarily constructive criticism) with helping the success of the Games.

IN:

"But you had suggested that "it was the critics of the Games who kept up the pressure for VANOC to live up to its commitments that helped ensure the success of the Games." It sounds like you're saying that it was the critics' work that resulted in VANOC doing its job."

I think 'helped' is a key word.

Opposition in any form can ensure organizations live up to their commitments and/or promises. I think that happened during the Olympics. I don't think its unrealistic to suggest some of the social and environmental promises might have been diluted without watchful eyes on the job.

Temple:

However, he's blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy involved in crediting 'vocal opposition' (not necessarily constructive criticism) with helping the success of the Games. "

I guess I am. Or maybe I'm blissfully aware of all the instances where vocal opposition to institutions and practices has brought change and betterment. That constitutes 'taking part' simply by being involved.

I think you need to look up the word "hypocrisy".

You responded to my post to say that one of your actions is justified, without acknowledging
that your repetitive 'lead, follow, or get out of the way' response to constructive criticism runs
exactly opposite to that.

I agree that criticism can be productive. You seem to believe that, yet you choose to ignore,
even deride it as useless, it when it's directed at yourself or at things which you choose to
champion.

Again, the word you're looking for comes after hyperbole and before hypothesis.

When VANOC says their budget balances, I think they just mean that they spent what they earned and what various levels of government & the IOC gave them. I'm glad they balanced their final budget, but frankly, I expected them to do so. It's not as though they're repaying all that government backing, is it?

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