Truck­ing, fly­ing snow won’t im­pact Olympic green goals: VANOC

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL - BY JAMES MCCARTEN

VAN­COU­VER — The he­li­copters and trucks fer­ry­ing pre­cious snow to Van­cou­ver’s win­ter-starved Cy­press Moun­tain venue will have only a neg­li­gi­ble im­pact on pro­jected car­bon emis­sions, say or­ga­niz­ers aim­ing to host the green­est Games ever.

The thrum of chop­per blades and the rum­ble of dump trucks might run counter to the no­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, but Van­cou­ver Games of­fi­cials in­sisted Wed­nes­day they won’t be thrown off tar­get by man-made ef­forts to re­store win­ter to parts of the West Coast.

“If we used he­li­copters ev­ery day from this point un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary for eight hours a day, it would in­crease our car­bon foot­print by less than one per cent,” said Linda Coady, vice-pres­i­dent of sus­tain­abil­ity for the Olympic or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee known as VANOC.

“Sim­i­larly, with the truck­ing (of) snow, if we trucked in 100 tonnes, it would only in­crease our car­bon foot­print by about three or 4,000 tonnes.”

Cy­press Moun­tain, sit­u­ated on Van­cou­ver’s North Shore, has been hit by heavy rain and warm tem­per­a­tures, rob­bing it of the snow nec­es­sary for the snow­board­ing and freestyle ski­ing events to which it is to play host.

But it won’t al­ter VANOC’s pre­dic­tion that the 2010 Games will pro­duce just 118,000 tonnes of car­bon over the life of the seven-year project, com­pared with 17-day emis- sions lev­els of 248,000 tonnes in Salt Lake City in 2002 and about 160,000 in Turin, Italy, in 2006.

What is pro­duced, or­ga­niz­ers say they will off­set with car­bon cred­its.

Or­ga­niz­ers were on hand Wed­nes­day to release the lat­est in a se­ries of sta­tus re­ports on VANOC’s sus­tain­abil­ity ef­forts, this one span­ning the 12 months beginning Aug. 1, 2008.

“We know that a global event on the scale of the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games pro­vides a plat­form to raise aware­ness about a va­ri­ety of spe­cific causes and con­cerns,” the re­port said.

“We also un­der­stand there will al­ways be Games crit­ics, and we be­lieve that every­one has the right to peace­fully ex­press their be­liefs.”

Coady also warned against read­ing too much into the de­ci­sion last week by the David Suzuki Foun­da­tion to award the Games a sym­bolic bronze medal for sus­tain­abil­ity, rather than a gold or a sil­ver medal.

The Suzuki as­sess­ment was rel­a­tively pos­i­tive, ap­plaud­ing VANOC’s sus­tain­able venues, emis­sions tar­gets and trans­parency, but com­plained about a lack of a sus­tain­able trans­porta­tion legacy and less-than-stel­lar pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“We’re pretty happy with that,” Coady said of the bronze medal. “They made it pretty clear they would never award a gold or a sil­ver medal to a sport­ing event yet, so we made it onto the podium.”

When they get un­der­way Fri­day, the Games are ex­pected to at­tract the largest group of protests the com­mit­tee has seen to date.

Ac­tivists take is­sue over ev­ery­thing from the role abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple are play­ing in the Games and what they be­lieve is the neg­a­tive im­pact the Olympics are hav­ing on Van­cou­ver’s most marginal­ized res­i­dents. Many in­sist that the Olympics and sus­tain­abil­ity are mu­tu­ally exclusive con­cepts.

The com­mit­tee, how­ever, be­lieves it has put to­gether one of the most in­clu­sive and bal­anced events in the his­tory of the Games.

“If you have in­ten­tion, if you have clar­ity, if you have good part­ner­ships, if you have creative ideas, if you’re re­flect­ing peo­ple’s val­ues, you can man­age (the Games) in a more sus­tain­able way,” Coady said.

“That is a mes­sage of hope and trans­for­ma­tion, be­cause if you can do it for an Olympic Games, which is only a 17-day event, then it’s pos­si­ble to do it more broadly.”

In the year the re­port cov­ers, or­ga­niz­ers also pro­vided money for shel­ter beds, sup­ported pro­grams that gave job train­ing for Games-spe­cific roles and hired in­ner-city groups to run pro­grams like their lost and found.

They also spent over $1 mil­lion buy­ing from 15 in­ner-city busi­nesses, though over­all, their spending on lo­cal busi­ness has gone down from years past.

For the first time since they be­gan re­port­ing, or­ga­niz­ers also said that in 2008-2009 they did not need to ban any fac­to­ries from pro­duc­ing their mer­chan­dise be­cause they didn’t com­ply with the Games’ code of con­duct.

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