For locals, the 2010 Winter Olympics legacy for some Vancouver buildings and artwork becomes paradoxically like a familiar face that we may longer notice its unique birthmarks over time.
I haven’t spent any time researching, analyzing nor comparing long lasting transformation of buildings, art and infrastructure in Vancouver and other Olympic cities worldwide. So just take my observations, as a casual jumble of blasé, amazed and sometimes, surprised thoughts as I bike around.
Olympic Athletes’ Village
It is still a wonderful area to cycle or walk around through on its paths, seating areas,
“Canoe”, a pedestrian steel bridge, giant sparrow sculptures and its mini decorative amphitheatre that leads down into False Creek. The Village is a mix of multi-family, low
and mid-rise housing designs. The new Terra Bread bakery café in the Village, is just rocking popular most of the time. When you are hanging out here with your coffee, you certainly see cyclists spinning by every few minutes from downtown or presumably from Granville Market. No doubt, this bakery location is benefitting immensely from drop-in cyclists and pedestrians, since the Village is designed to severely limit car traffic.
In the Village, is the new Creekside Community Centre, which offers views of mountains, city skyline and False Creek from its ceiling to floor glassed rooms and atrium. During the Olympics, the Centre was one of the nerve centres for the world media and security command centre for the athletes.
Today, inside there are banners from other previous Winter Olympics worldwide. Some of the
Hillcrest Community Centre
Later we dropped by the new Hillcrest Community Centre which includes a library branch. Hillcrest was the former Olympic curling venue. Something must have been wrong with the ventilation system in the women’s washroom on the day I was there. It wasn’t working and very hot on an early cool spring day. Hopefully it was only a a temporary breakdown.
Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane
No, I am not confusing Winter Olympic lore with Vancouver cycling infrastructure expansion.
This lane was originally created with concrete barriers, to encourage more cycling traffic after the Olympics. During the Olympics the city had an aggressive goal of reducing incoming car traffic by 30% during the Olympics. There were cyclists, more pedestrians and enthusiastic use of transit but this bike lane was not used during the Games. Afterwards, the city made the barriers permanent and thrusted the lane further into downtown core with planters and bike rack corrals as barriers enroute to protect cyclists from cars.
Canada Line- Art at the End of Line
So much has been written in the transit world about the Canada Line that was built to move hundreds of thousands of people daily during the Olympics.
After the Olympics, daily use of the Canada Line, has exceeded TransLink’s original estimates. People travelling to and from the airport, love it for its convenience. Translink met its original projected 3-year Canada line use of up to 100,000 Canada Line users daily within first 3 months after the Olympics.
What I love, as result of Olympic art legacies, is the permanent public art work in the new wing at the Vancouver International Airport attached to the Canada Line station. Contemporary aboriginal pieces that add to already the airport’s stunning collection to greet global visitors.
Olympic Logos Plastered Trucks, Ferry: Official Suppliers
Vancouverites travelling to and from Vancouver Island, most likely may have seen at least one B.C. Ferry with Olympic logo markings.
A few months ago, I also saw another vehicle sporting the Olympic logo: a truck transporting beds and mattresses. Sleep Country was the official supplier for beds ..probably for the Olympic athlete’s village.
I’m not sure if this logo shout-out will become worn-out. But the vendors probably had to work hard to provide their services and products in marathon flat-out delivery.
Going Beyond Sports: Permanent Footprint for A Dynamic Urbanscape
The 2010 Olympics confirmed for locals and to the urban planning community, how possible it was transform a city to live more often by foot, with more transit use and cycling. With additional larger scale public art, mid-rise multiple unit housing, more parkland and some attractive streetscaping, all these amenities can have long lasting use and value for communities.
Through my casual, slightly jaundiced eyes, the Olympics like all others, was a temporary
money-generator for the local economy. However, there is already a cornucopia of art, architecture and changed view of Vancouver’s possibilities as a city that became more than just a place to greet the world before escaping to Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands or the U.S.
What you see is a permanent imprint embedded into Vancouver’s urban landscape now and for a long time for all of us to enjoy.