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Post-Games Vancouver: building on the Olympic momentum

Finance Minister Colin Hansen called for the City of Vancouver and the province to “build on the Olympic momentum” during…

By Niamh Scallan , in Post-Games Report: Local politics after the Olympics , on March 15, 2010 Tags: , , , , ,

Finance Minister Colin Hansen called for the City of Vancouver and the province to “build on the Olympic momentum” during his budget speech in early March.

Whether the provincial budget will help to maintain successful Olympic-related

projects (like better public transit, for example) remains to be seen – it has only been a few weeks since the budget was announced. But, the Olympics provided Vancouverites with a glimpse of Vancouver’s potential as a major global city and as Hansen stated, the city and the province should continue to develop Vancouver as was demonstrated during the Games.

In a recent Tyee article, Vancouver journalist Frances Bula shared her thoughts on what Vancouver could learn from the Olympics. From her experience at the Games, she called for a permanent aboriginal museum in the downtown area (after the success of the Four Nations centre at Queen Elizabeth plaza), more street food and sidewalk cafes (hot dogs are not enough to satisfy a metropolis’s street food appetite) and a greater push on public transit use in the Vancouver area.

To add to Bula’s suggestions, there are a number of things I would like to see come out of our experience with the Games. A number of progressive programs and projects pursued by city should continue to be carried out.

First, the Cultural Olympiad – a showcase of art and popular culture – provided

A mural on display during the 2010 Games outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, courtesy of Flickr user: kennymatic

people from Vancouver and around the world with hundreds of different culture-focused events. The focus on art in Vancouver was refreshing – especially after the provincial government made severe arts funding cuts in August 2009. The Cultural Olympiad’s many events – including free concerts, interactive art displays, and dance performances – demonstrated the value of popular culture to the population. Hopefully, city councilors will build on momentum of the Cultural Olympiad and promote art development in the city.

Second, I found that the City of Vancouver provided increased funding community involvement projects during the Olympics. For the Winter Games, the city started up a community living room initiative. Thirty community centres were provided with 50-inch plasma screen televisions for the duration of the Games. Programs like these are simple ways to provide community-enhancement services to individuals and families across the city.

There’s no doubt that the municipal and provincial governments will be working on a tighter financial budget in the post-Olympic era – unfortunately the days of free LiveCity concerts and daily fireworks shows cannot last forever. But I think that Vancouver’s City Council and the provincial government should use the Olympic experience – the projects and programs that were popular and successful in the community – to better identify the wants and needs of Vancouver’s population.