The Games are over, but the benefits of our Olympic experience have just begun. Today, we can reflect on what the Olympic Games have meant to the City of Richmond for the last two years, and in particular, the last two weeks.
The Olympic Games were undoubtedly successful on many fronts. First and foremost, they were a success for our community. We invited the world to Richmond, and they not only came, they came in droves. Visitors discovered the warmth of our people, the diversity of our residents, and the beauty of our natural surroundings and city.
Second, there was great pride taken by everyday people in showing our city to the world. That pride was also national in scope, and had no boundary or barriers. Everything was for O’Canada – a song you couldn’t go 100 metres without hearing from people young and old.
The community came together and jelled in supporting and delivering the best experience possible for all of our visitors. Everyone wanted to be part of it. This was most evident from the beginning with the Torch Run on February 9 when 30,000 people lined the streets of Richmond to greet the torch. It was a very emotional event for all.
One of the most important outcomes was the exposure of the athletes and the Olympic sports to all residents. The commitment of these athletes to their chosen endeavour was second to none. Their long sacrifice to be the best, years in the making, was supported on all levels regardless of performance – with some races won or lost by the width of a speed skate blade.
The Richmond Oval keeps getting great reviews worldwide as the jewel and signature facility of the Olympic Games. Most media exposure and advertising invariably included a picture of the Oval. The foresight and courage of City Council with a plan to build this project has come to the forefront. Richmond has received many so accolades for the building from all aspects locally to internationally. It is satisfying to know after the Games that the building will be used eighty percent of the time by the community and twenty percent of the time for high performance sports.
The Ozone allowed thousands daily to have a free hands-on Olympic experience as they enjoyed the Games. The arts and cultural aspect also took to the forefront as many enjoyed the visual aspect and citizens homes and business were decorated and got into the spirit as we were transformed into an Olympic City.
Not to be overlooked was the tremendous success of our Olympic experience would not have been so without the tireless efforts of community volunteers and city staff. Each and every one of them deserves our gratitude and thanks.
The experience provides a solid base for Richmond to host world events like the Tall Ships for 2011 and beyond. With community involvement we could host events annually. Our community wants to be involved and the base is there for any event.
The Olympics allowed us to lever funds from sponsors, the International Olympic Committee, VANOC, and other levels of Government to provide the biggest benefit to our citizens for local tax dollars spent on infrastructure for the Games and the legacies that will follow.
Given the rave reviews and international media acclaim we’ve received the world will be back, and they’ll bring their friends. This can only benefit local jobs and business as we move through challenging global economic times.
We have the Richmond Olympic Oval! We have the Olympic Rings, we are an Olympic City, thanks you for the memories, O’Canada!
Councillor Bill McNulty
Richmond First City Councillor