Final 2010 Olympic Games impact report finds Vancouver benefited from better transit, sports centres

VANCOUVER — The final Olympic Games Impact study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia has found that although most Canadians didn’t benefit from economic infrastructure, Vancouver and Whistler residents have improved transit and sports centres.

The research into the long-term impact of hosting the Games was led by Rob VanWynsberghe, a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Education, who conducted the study through UBC’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability.

He found that for every $12 spent by the province and Ottawa for the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Canada Line, and the Convention Centre, residents of Whistler and Vancouver only put $1 toward this infrastructure.

“This explains why cities aggressively pursue the opportunity to host these large-scale events,” said VanWynsberghe, in a statement. “Residents paid little in direct taxes to get great infrastructure ... If you use transit, ski or work in tourism, it is a good deal.”

VanWynsberghe said although Canadians didn’t see much in capital infrastructure, they benefited from a boost in pride and nationalism across the country.

He calls it 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 study notes that some long-term aspects cannot be measured because there is not enough data, such as a boon to tourism, increased air pollution and increased cost of living. There is insufficient post-Games data, the study found, to determine whether the findings are sustained after the Games, such as whether jobs are long-term.

The Olympic Games Impact study is the fourth and final report required by the International Olympic Committee to measure the overall impact of the Games.

The third volume in the series was released in 2011 and analyzed the impact of the Games. It found the Olympics were good for business, but not so good for B.C.’s environment. Greenhouse gas emissions increased during the Games to eight times what they are normally, according to VanWynsberghe. A large portion of that output came from carbon emitted by spectators, media, athletes and Olympic personnel flying to and from Vancouver.

Two previous studies looked at the impact of preparation for the Games.

Vancouver was the first host city to be contractually required to undertake the OGI study, which is now required of all host organizing committees.

The OGI study for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games has been overseen by the Canadian Olympic Committee.

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