COLUMN: Reflecting on Olympic legacy

It’s amazing to think that a year has gone by since Vancouver and Whistler hosted the world for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Cynics will likely say some are out to further profit from the Games experience: Vancouver Organizing Committee CEO John Furlong has a new book out called Patriot Hearts; CTV recently aired an anniversary special on the Games as well as the documentary 17 Days.

We see this look back as a celebration of a giddy time when B.C. residents and Canadians from coast to coast came together to cheer on our athletes. We watched as Canada set a record by winning 14 gold medals, including the thrilling men’s hockey overtime win against the U.S.

Before the Games, protests against spending millions on a short-term sporting extravaganza, instead of on such things as housing for the homeless, were heated but cooled as excitement grew with each new Canadian medal.

This week, NDP leadership candidate and Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan attempted to bring Gordon Campbell down to earth. Horgan criticized the premier for spending too much time in the throne speech reminiscing about the Games, instead of talking about issues that matter to British Columbians.

A reliable opposition member, Horgan was stating the obvious. What he missed was the fact the Olympics were actually important to most people and that the Games continue to play an important role in the development of Canadian sport as well as transportation and tourism infrastructure in B.C.

An independent accounting of the Games showed they essentially broke even – although that doesn’t include money spent on building the Canada Line skytrain or upgrading the Sea to Sky Highway. Debates over the long-term effects of B.C.’s Olympic experience will likely go on for years. Meanwhile, area residents are rekindling the Games spirit – and hunting for bargains – at the government surplus depot on Glanford Road, where Olympic paraphernalia and equipment is being cleared out.

Like it or not, a year later the Olympics are the gift that keeps on giving.

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