Eight years after the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, the Canadian city and its residents continue to benefit from hosting the historic international event. From inspiring the growth of winter sports across Canada to fuelling lasting community, transport and environmental improvements throughout the region, the Games yielded a legacy that stands strong today.
From 12 to 28 February 2010, 2,566 athletes participated in 86 events at the Games. The competition, which marked the second Olympic Winter Games to take place in Canada and the first in the province of British Columbia, saw the record participation of 82 National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
Paving the way for future Olympic Games legacy efforts, Vancouver was the first Olympic host city to create a not-for-profit organisation during the candidature process devoted to developing community legacies. Called 2010 Legacies Now, the initiative positioned the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as a catalyst for change.
Building excitement around sport at all levels
One of the most celebrated outcomes of the Games is the development and expansion of sport and culture across Canada, encouraging participation at all levels.
“After the Games, kids were on their way to skating rinks the next day and signing up for curling and skiing and ski jumping,” said John Furlong, President and CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC). “This is what the Olympic Games can do. Ultimately, you hope that, as a result of the Games, every child will get a chance to experience sports.”
Creating opportunities for local children to experience the thrill of winter sports first-hand, 2010 Legacies Now founded numerous recreational and high-performance youth sports programmes. In addition to working in partnership with local community organisations to inspire future athletes, 2010 Legacies Now administered the Aboriginal Youth Sports Legacy Fund, a fund created by the Province of British Columbia, the Sqamish and Lil’wat Nations and the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. The initiative supports programmes that encourage British Columbia’s aboriginal youth to participate in physical activity and sport.
On top of generating excitement amongst younger generations around both established and emerging winter sports — along with the participation of aboriginal groups, minorities and people with disabilities — the Games also produced a host of other benefits that still resonate within the greater Vancouver community today.
The creation of 2,500 full-time jobs fuelled fiscal growth in the region. Each of these positions was created as a result of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, a coalition of Metro Vancouver municipal governments reported.
Contributing to local workforce development, the Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop provided carpentry training to single mothers, immigrants, indigenous individuals and disadvantaged youth in the area. Eighty per cent of participants who took part in the six-month programme completed the course prepared to share their newfound skills in the job market.
Moreover, the event and conference industry in Vancouver has seen significant development in the eight years following the Games. The city has since received numerous sporting events, business conferences and cultural events, producing a long-term economic impact.
The Vancouver Convention Centre, which was enlarged and renovated to host the Main Media Centre during the Games, has hosted more than 500 events per year since the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 took place. Those events — including a TED Talks conference at the venue — were attended by hundreds of thousands of people each year while generating revenue for the city of Vancouver.
Another example of event industry development following the Games is the creation of Sport Hosting Vancouver, named Sport Tourism Organisation of the Year 2017. The organisation, which attracts, develops and supports world-class sports events in Vancouver, will generate an estimated CAD 64 million in economic impact through to 2019.
Improving transport infrastructure
Ahead of the Games, Translink, Vancouver’s transit agency, launched several high-efficiency transport offerings, including a 400-passenger SeaBus ferry, fuel-efficient SkyTrain Cars and diesel-electric hybrid buses. The Canada Line Metro Vancouver Rapid Transit, built for the Games, today still whisks locals between Vancouver’s airport and downtown area. Overall, regional mass transit use increased by more than 50 per cent during and after the Games. The transport improvements reduced emissions and encouraged the use of bicycles and other alternatives to commuting by car.
Fostering environmental sustainability
From constructing all venues in accordance with Canada’s green-building standards to embracing an ambitious carbon management and offset programme, the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 set new standards for sustainability.
Many of the venues used innovative sustainability methods that ensured lower energy and water consumpution for the years to come, such as capturing the heat from used bath water and collecting rain to irrigate landscaping.
Benefits of sports venue reuse
Amplifying the local social impact, accommodation at the Whistler Olympic Village was given a second life. Some 156 affordable homes were created for elderly, low-income and homeless residents through the initiative.
Several venues from the Games continue to be reused as sporting and entertainment venues for the local community to enjoy. These include the Vancouver Olympic Centre, where curling events took place during the Games. Now called the Hillcrest Centre, it is home to an ice rink, a curling club, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a large community gathering space. Olympic facility sustainable reuse intiaitives such as this help extend the legacy of the Games for years to come.
The Pacific Coliseum, which housed the figure skating and short-track speed skating events in 2010, is home to the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants. The venue, used extensively for sporting events since its opening in 1968, hosts dozens of concerts and other events annually.
Serving as the main venue for the luge, skeleton and bobsleigh events at the Games, the Whistler Sliding Centre has become a training hub for each of these increasingly popular sports. Now open to the general public as well, Centre patrons of all ages and abilities are encouraged to try luge, skeleton and bobsleigh in the venue’s controlled and safe environment.
Meanwhile, the Richmond Olympic Oval skating track is also now a community sports facility for local residents. Inside the transformed space are two ice rinks, badminton and volleyball courts, a fitness centre and an indoor track. The additions continue to connect the community through activity and sport, and drive local tourism.
Whistler Olympic Park, which hosted the cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined and ski jumping events, remained open as a public facility after the Games, encouraging the public to explore sports on a recreational level. The scenic Park, flush with extensive Alpine routes and wilderness trails, is also home to world-class training facilities for athletes to develop their disciplines.
Offering opportunities for people to try cross-country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon and more in the winter — and biking and hiking in the summer — Whistler Olympic Park also enables visitors to explore its Olympic legacy through tours.
To learn more about the legacy of the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, please explore the full Games sustainability report here.