News / Vancouver

Who really won Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics?

Congratulations, Canada Line riders, community centre users and skiers who drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway to use Whistler’s cross country trails.

Turns out you won Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games.

There was a home ice advantage to hosting the sporting event, but only for certain residents who use the pricey infrastructure, according to the final of four reports from the Olympic Games Impact study required by the International Olympic Committee.

“Someone who works in the tourism industry, lives in Vancouver and has a place in Whistler is sitting the prettiest,” said UBC Faculty of Education professor Rob VanWynsberghe, who conducted the research through UBC’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability.

Residents paid just $1 for every $12 spent by the provincial and federal governments on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the Canada Line and the Convention Centre, according to the report.

While Vancouverites continue to get dinged on property taxes to pay off Olympic Village debt, they got a deal on the three major projects, VanWynsberghe said.

The chance for federal and provincial funding is why cities compete to host the Olympics in the first place, he said, as municipal governments struggle to find cash to improve infrastructure that can’t keep up with swelling populations.

“One of the only ways they seem to be able to get that money easily is say, ‘We’re going to put on a big party and the rest of the world is watching, so are you in or out?’” VanWynsberghe said.

The festivities did seem to have a positive spillover across Canada, a boost in pride and nationalism the report dubbed the “red mitten effect.”

But some didn’t walk away from the Olympics with a victory. The promised social housing in the Olympic Village has shrunken to 28 units from 256 units, VanWynsberghe said.

Yet he hopes a more positive legacy is yet to come, much like how Montreal is realizing the benefits from the walking infrastructure it built for the 1976 Summer Games.

Along with finding a housing solution, Vancouver could brand itself based on its big event expertise and the sustainable technologies used in the Olympic Village, he said.

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