Video: Olympic booster vs. opponent on Vancouver 2010 legacy
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Ex-Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths was the Vancouver Whistler Bid Society’s leader when it got Canadian Olympic Committee approval in 1998 to seek the 2010 Games. Scientist and author Chris Shaw was Vancouver’s best-known Olympic critic. In separate interviews they looked back at Vancouver 2010.
Most important legacy?
Griffiths: "The spirit that Vancouver demonstrated to themselves, the citizens, but also to the rest of the world. That our fans, the residents and so on just really stepped up to the plate and made this a fun experience for anybody that watched or attended the Games."
Shaw: “The Government of Canada, acting on behalf of the Olympics, made the possibility of civil dissent a subject for surveillance. For me that was the most shocking revelation, that our society is not as free and democratic... There's still people on the streets, the issues that were current then are still current. Nothing has really changed dramatically for better or for worse. It's almost like it didn't happen in some sense. Except for the debt.”
Was it money well spent?
Griffiths: "Without question... These are legacies for decades, whether it's the stadium, whether it's the transit to the airport, whether it's the road to Whistler. All of these venues, there's no white elephants, as they say. Ultimately Vancouver showed that you can host the Olympics by creating venues that have real long term use and take advantage of the venues that are already here."
Shaw: “I don't think so. Comparing it to the Russians, guess we got a bargain! That $6 billion or whatever the real number turned out to be could clearly have been used for many more beneficial things that would have aided society at large... Anybody who is middle class or below is finding it very hard to live in the city, it's become a city of the wealthy. To some extent that was the goal.”
Advice for Toronto, host of the continent’s next mega-event, the 2015 Pan American Games.
Griffiths: "They're spread out over such a vast area. It makes the Vancouver-Whistler corridor seem small. It is a huge, huge undertaking, just more athletes than the Winter Games. I hope they will demonstrate to themselves, they will demonstrate to anybody looking, the IOC and FIFA, that there is an opportunity for Toronto, which is truly the world class city and great city of North America, to host a future Games or some major sporting event. Toronto is more than equipped for it."
Shaw: “Your city is going to change for that period of time and you will not be able to go about your business the same way because it is for the benefit of the people who run the Games... best advice is to do what a lot of people did in Vancouver: get out of town, go somewhere else for that period and let other people deal with the disruption. Having said that, if you really want to express your view, go out in the streets with a placard and see how far you get with that and express your displeasure to the powers that be.”