Whistler – Minimal Impact For Maximum Effect
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will use three competition sites in the Whistler area, which is 123 kilometres from the City of Vancouver. The three venues in question are the Whistler Sliding Centre, which will play host to Bobsleigh, Skeleton and Luge events; Whistler Olympic Park, which has Cross Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined, and Biathlon taking place on site; and Whistler Creekside, which is the home for all the Alpine Skiing events at the Games. All of these venues have been built with the environment in mind, and will leave a great legacy to the local community.
In an area of extreme natural beauty, the development of the Olympic venues was closely examined by the Games organisers in order to ensure that they were not unnecessarily impacting the local environment. This resulted in smart footprints and site selection being implemented for the venues. Whistler Creekside, for example, is located on an existing ski trail and uses existing infrastructure, whereas Whistler Olympic Park had its footprint reduced by approximately 30 per cent from its initial design, and the venue was altered to avoid disturbing old-growth forest and wetlands. The Whistler Sliding Centre was also built with a minimal footprint, and has incorporated other environmentally friendly initiatives, such as energy efficient construction, waste heat and wood reuse, and LEED certification for its refrigeration plant building.
The three competition venues will all provide a sporting legacy to both the community and elite sports people alike. In addition, considerable emphasis was placed on using local labour and First Nations companies in the construction phases of the venues. This use of local knowledge allowed an immediate economic injection into the local community, as well as an economic and training legacy for some of the workers and companies involved.
A Green Legacy Development
Aside from the competition venues, Whistler is also the home of the new Whistler Olympic Village. This sustainable neighbourhood will provide much needed affordable housing after the Games, for the community of Whistler, as well as social housing for a number of other communities around British Columbia. In addition, the Village contains an athletes’ lodge that can be used post-Games for athletes wishing to train in the region. The neighbourhood is also environmentally friendly, having been developed directly adjacent to an already disturbed area. It uses waste heat recovered from the local water treatment plant, and has a wetland complex on site for storm water retention, treatment and habitation enhancement. The Village is part of a pilot project with the Canada Green Building Council to test the new LEED Neighbourhood Development green standard.