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The 2010 Winter Games

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The end of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games doesn’t mean the benefits and opportunities spurred by the Games have ended. WD has been there to support the Games and its legacy in many ways, some of which include providing funding for Metro Vancouver Commerce to encourage foreign direct investment, showcasing French language and culture to the world, and by promoting fuel cell technology through the use of Whistler’s hydrogen-powered buses.

2010 Winter Games bring a world of business to Vancouver

photograph of Rick Hansen and Minister Yelich at the Vancouver Olympic Village 

Man in Motion, Rick Hansen, gives Minister Yelich a tour of the Vancouver Olympic Village.

The Games were a rare opportunity for a region to sell itself as business-friendly. With Vancouver’s chance to play host to the world in 2010, nine of the municipalities that comprise the greater metropolitan area joined forces to take advantage of the economic opportunities provided by the Games.

With the help of $800,000 in WD support, Metro Vancouver Commerce, a consortium of the municipalities’ economic development agencies, was able to help host 100 “investment-ready” senior executives representing 75 corporations from around the world, matching them with some 160 local businesses.

“It was really all about being able to deliver the message that Metro Vancouver is a very competitive place to do business,” said the consortium’s project manager, Jamie Hunter.

The invitees were selected from a list of 400 candidate companies from the green building, aviation, and digital media sectors, as well as other creative enterprises, such as the film industry.

photograph of Minister Yelich speaking at the kick-off of Saskatchewan Day at the 2010 Winter Games 

Minister Yelich speaks at the kick-off of the 2010 Winter Games’ Saskatchewan Day.

The executives were set-up with a series of peer-to-peer activities including a tailored Games experience, whereby Western Canada’s attractive business climate was showcased. Among the host partners were video-game maker Electronic Arts, biomass-to-gas innovator Nexterra, and Chrysalix, a venture capital firm specializing in the energy sector.

Evaluating the project’s total success will take time. However, just 60 days after the end of the games, the project surpassed its $20 million dollar goal, with Metro Vancouver Commerce announcing close to $60 million in new international investment.


Showing off fuel of the future at the 2010 Winter Games

photograph of night time skyline in Vancouver with the hydrogen fuel cell powered olympic rings 

The hydrogen fuel cell powered illuminated rings shine silver after Team Canada wins another silver medal during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Whistler is renowned for its skiing, hiking, biking and spectacular scenery. Less well known are the village’s hydrogen-powered buses, the world’s largest fleet. B.C.’s premier tourist village took full advantage of the Games to showcase this technology, which promises to play a major role in the global energy mix of the near future.

“We’re just at the beginning of the innovation curve for this technology,” said John Tak, President of the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association. “Each year, companies are driving down costs and improving performance and durability.”

Tak and fellow fuel cell advocates received some $300,000 from WD to promote the technology during the Games. The fact that 20 of Whistler’s 28 buses run on hydrogen fuel cells that produce zero carbon emissions gave them a head start. But since Whistler was only home to half the events, organizers created a virtual fuel cell bus, filled with computer simulators and information, and installed it at the BC Pavilion on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “People didn’t have to go up to Whistler. They could sit and watch the scenery passing by right from there,” said Tak.

The campaign included bus and SkyTrain advertisements and a demonstration fuel cell to power the 14-metre-tall illuminated rings floating in Coal Harbour. “We also made really good use of social media generating hits on our www.poweringnow.ca website,” Tak said.

The vast majority of B.C.’s electricity is already produced at clean hydroelectric dams, making B.C. fuel cells among the greenest power sources in the world. “Even better,” said Tak, “there are two chemical plants in North Vancouver that produce hydrogen as a byproduct. Today, the province is capturing that hydrogen and killing two birds with one very renewable stone.”

B.C. displays bilingual spirit at the 2010 Winter Games

photograph of people on stage at the official opening of Place de la Francophonie at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games 

Pascal Couchepin, Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the 2010 Winter Games, and Minister James Moore welcome spectators at the official opening of Place de la Francophonie, a celebration of francophone art and culture which ran on Granville Island throughout the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Among the benefits of being able to host the Games is the opportunity to share the country’s national spirit with the rest of the world. In Canada’s case, that means showcasing both official languages on the stage, along with the podium.

Quebec is often the province visitors think of when it comes to Francophone heritage. However, the rest of Canada is home to many thriving francophone communities from the historic Maillardville in British Columbia to St. Boniface in Manitoba. The Government of Canada wanted to ensure that the

2010 Winter Games would help showcase this richness and diversity to all those attending the Games.

And so WD provided $500,000 in support, in collaboration with Canadian Heritage’s $1.2 million contribution, for La Place de la Francophonie, a venue located on Vancouver’s popular Granville Island. The space featured a daily program of francophone-related musical performances, exhibitions,

trade shows and special events. At least 10,000 visitors passed through the market each day, according to Donald Cyr, Executive Director of the Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique (SDECB). The SDECB, a non-profit organization which promotes Francophone business interests in the province, was at the forefront in working with WD and the Place de la Francophonie to give the Games a bilingual touch.

Musicians from across Canada performed, including Gregory Charles, Yelo Molo, Malajube and Éric Lapointe. Comedians Mike Ward, Rachid Badouri, and Louis-José Houde, among others, dazzled crowds with their clever punch lines and witty repertoires.

For those looking to take a break from the entertainment, WD in cooperation with SDECB, supported an agri-tourism showcase where producers could present a variety of food products and tourism experiences. Many a visitor was delighted to sample apple cider from Quebec and other authentic fare from across Canada.

La Place de la Francophonie’s closing day was February 28th, 2010; however, the effect it had on promoting awareness and appreciation of French Canadian culture and business will live on in the memories of those who took part.