Looking back at the legacy of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, 14 years later

It was not cheap to host, but more than a dozen years after Vancouver welcomed the world for the Winter Olympics, was it worth it? CityNews is looking at the pros and cons of it all.

The positives that came out of it include the construction of the Richmond Oval, Canada Line, Olympic Village, and the upgrades made to the Sea to Sky Highway. We also can’t forget all the goosebump-inducing medals, including 14 gold.

FILE: The Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver in 2010. (John Ackermann, NEWS 1130 Photo)
FILE: The Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver in 2010. (John Ackermann, CityNews Image)

Andy Yan, director of the City Program at SFU, says the downside is what he describes as the “deepening of inequalities” across the region, especially when it comes to housing and how unaffordable it is to live in the Lower Mainland. Yan explains it also led to the creation of a lot of homes, but they’re not cheap, including along the Cambie corridor.

Yan can’t say for sure if people can blame the 2010 Olympics for the current housing crisis, but he adds it likely didn’t help as it also opened the region up to more foreign buyers, as well.

“In 2010, we started seeing the major problems of unaffordability … in terms of measuring challenges toward how housing was exceeding local incomes. I think one statistic, was really how we had San Francisco prices on Kansas City incomes. How does Vancouver have some of the most expensive real estate in North America, but yet at the same time, very mediocre incomes.”

Yan also says the Games were marketed in a way that people believed it would benefit a lot of people, when in reality, he points out, it helped boost businesses in and around event venues and that’s it.

“The benefits of the Olympics weren’t necessarily spread around. I think that is one of the big challenges when it comes to these mega-events. What do they do for the overall region?”

Yan also questions the tourism boom that was expected. He doesn’t think the Olympics put Vancouver on the map, adding it was a well-known place to visit long before 2010.

“The marketing afterglow is going to resonate through the ages and here we are 14 years later and really can’t see whether it happened or not. Similarly, you think about other host cities for Winter Olympics. When was the last time you went to Lillehammer, or you’ve been to Sochi or Nagoya?”

He also touches on the comparison between Expo 86 and the Games, adding the Olympic legacy was much more concentrated.

“It is a bit more locked into location, as opposed to what Expo did and that’s also remembering Expo 86 marks a different time for Metropolitan Vancouver. Where we were at the beginning of Expo was very different than where we were at the beginning of the Olympics.”

Yan ends on a high note and says Vancouver’s ability to host the Games was, for the most part, considered quite successful. It opened the city up to hosting other big-ticket events like the Times of India Film Awards, the upcoming FIFA World Cup, and the Invictus Games.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today