Better transit, more facilities: UBC study finds locals enjoy 2010 Winter Games benefits

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Vancouver and Whistler residents enjoyed the biggest return after hosting the 2010 Winter Games but Canadians across the country also benefitted from a boost in pride and nationalism.

University of British Columbia research into the long-term impact of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games found that residents who live in or around Vancouver and Whistler are enjoying improved transit infrastructure and access to athletic facilities.

“This explains why cities aggressively pursue the opportunity to host these large-scale events,” said Rob VanWynsberghe, a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Education, who conducted this research through UBC’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability, a centre formed in 2010 to study how sport transforms cultures and communities.

Well before the Olympic bid, regional and provincial governments knew that funding was needed for three major infrastructure projects: the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade, the Canada Line light rapid transit extension to Vancouver International Airport, and a major expansion to the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Olympics offered an unparalleled opportunity to gain federal and provincial collaboration and support.

According to the report, for every $12 spent by the province and Ottawa for the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Canada Line, and the Convention Centre, taxpayers only put $1 toward this infrastructure.

“Residents paid little in direct taxes to get great infrastructure,” said VanWynsberghe. “If you use transit, ski or work in tourism, it is a good deal.”

Local residents may have enjoyed the greatest benefits in capital infrastructure but VanWynsberghe says that hosting a successful Games also boosted pride and nationalism across the country. He calls this spillover, the “red mitten effect.”

“These red mittens have been used to raise money for athletes of all levels in every part of Canada,” he said. “There is something in Canadian nationalism, pride and identity that was strengthened by the 2010 Olympics.”

The Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study is a four-part report required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to measure the overall impact of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The OGI study was developed by the IOC to introduce a standardized method of monitoring, measuring and reporting on the impact of hosting the Olympic Games. Beginning with the 2010 Winter Games, all Olympic organizing committees are contractually required to undertake the OGI study. The OGI study for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games has been overseen by the Canadian Olympic Committee following the post-Games wrap-up of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC).

The OGI post-Games report is the fourth and final report on the 2010 Winter Games. An initial report took baseline measurements of the region in 2001, a second report measured the impact of the Games during the organizing phase, and a third report focused on the impact of the Olympics during Games-time, the winter of 2010.

“The OGI study has been a defining project for the Centre for Sport and Sustainability,” said Bob Sparks, the director of the Centre, which was developed as a UBC legacy of the 2010 Winter Games. “This was the first OGI study mandated by the IOC and we have made a significant contribution to the overall evaluation and development of the OGI framework.”

Source: UBC Public Affairs | Image: Josef Hanus / Shutterstock

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