Images by B.Alter
Vancouver gets a medal for being the greenest Olympics; the question is: which one? The David Suzuki Foundation has given it a bronze because under half of Games-related emissions will not be off-set and they "failed to reach out to Canadians or even Vancouverites about climate solutions".
But from a tourist's perspective there are lots of medal opportunities. Everyone is unanimous in their praise of the Richmond Oval, the speed-skating rink. Created by a Quebecois architect, it gets a gold. The building has a 26,000-square-metre roof made from trees that had already been killed by pine-beetle infestation.
Public transit gets a gold. A new Sky Train was built that runs from the airport to the downtown city centre. Once downtown, all subways, streetcars, sea bus and buses were free to Olympic ticket holders. That included buses up to the mountain events, although some would have liked to see a high-speed railway line up to Whistler instead. In fact, car usage has declined by 30% during the Games, which makes sense--you'd have to be mad to drive downtown with all the people taking over the streets.
For the cyclists, there is The Bicycle Valet . It is a protected, secure and free place to park bicycles during the events. It's been in existence for three years and is run by BEST, a non-profit organization which works with governments to promote sustainable transportation choices.
A medal for good intentions: this Canadian ice-cleaning machine was chosen because it is electric. But in a crunch, the good old gas guzzling Zamboni was driven in from Calgary to save the day.
There were several celebration sites with free activities for the public. One had a model of a lane way house, specially developed for the Games. The West House was a two story, 610 sq. ft. house that had clean-energy, smart-home control technologies and touch screens that controlled everything from heating to lighting. Following the Games it will be relocated and used as a living laboratory and prototype.
Another exhibit at the Power Smart Village has an energy efficient house and a sustainable dance floor that lights up with the dancing.
Healthy food at the venues: barely a mention, never mind a medal, except for the Vancouver Olympic Centre which had these goodies on display.
Give them a gold for enthusiasm.
And fashion? Triple gold: everyone on the streets and at the events is decked out in red and white, Canada's colours. From hockey sweaters to hats to scarves to red hoodies with Canada in big white letters (2 million sold). But the winner is the mittens: o.k. they are synthetic and made in China, but 3 million were sold for $10 a pop and they are the new symbol for the country and de rigueur at all hockey games. Go Canada go.