Apart from a few ribbon cuttings, Robertson has been nowhere on the Olympics file
As my CityCaucus.com colleague Mike Klassen and several other local media commented recently, Vancouver is going to get the gold medal for sleepwalking when it comes to promoting the 2010 Games. There are several who suggest that a crisis is looming for the Games, as it will reap none of the marketing and business benefits laid out in its original bid plan.
On today's Bill Good Show we heard a perfect example (mp3 clip here) of the waffling response Gregor Robertson likes to give on why the city he leads has done nothing to promote it's biggest party in a generation.
A few years ago, the previous NPA administration set aside $20 million dollars to ensure the city could properly showcase itself leading up to and during 2010. You'd never know it based on Mayor Robertson's continued lukewarm approach to the Games. Then again, the Vision caucus did vote against the 2010 Olympic legacy reserve fund - so perhaps the mayor is simply carrying out orders from his caucus. Somehow I doubt it.
I recently had family travel here from Ontario and they spent a week visiting all of the major tourist attractions in the Metro Vancouver area. Toward the end of the trip, one of them commented to me that you'd never know the Olympics were coming to Vancouver based on how little visible presence there is in our public spaces. No street banners. No building wraps. No promotion. No Quatchi. No Sumi. Nada.
When asked by Bill Good today whether Vancouver was doing enough to promote the Games both at home and abroad, Robertson clumsily pointed to the Olympic rings installed at the airport as well as other initiatives VANOC (Vancouver's Olympic Organizing Committee) was undertaking.
It would appear Robertson likes taking credit for the work of previous civic politicians (check out all of his photo ops at various social housing sites, Canada Line etc...), but perhaps Mayor Malcolm Brodie may want to explain to His Worship that the large white rings installed at the "Vancouver" International Airport are actually located in the city of Richmond. So he can hardly take credit for this Olympic effort.
It's clear the mayor and his Vision/COPE colleagues are not about to support any effort to use the Games as a promotion for Vancouver. In fact, on the most recent Bill Good Show civic panel, Jim Green, former Vision mayoral candidate, blared out to the listening audience that Vancouver didn't need to do anything special to promote the city as the "hotels are already 90% full" during the Games.
Wow. Green, Robertson and their Vision colleagues really don't get it. They simply don't understand the potential of what these Games represent to the City of Vancouver. They clearly see them as a 17 day event that will simply make for an interesting footnote in our history. What a missed opportunity.
As I stated on the Bill Good Show, the responsibility of VANOC is to put on a good Games. Full stop. As such, we should give them credit as they are doing a great job.
VANOC's job is not to maximize economic opportunities beyond the Games nor to help brand Vancouver as a clean, green and great place to invest in 2010 and beyond. That's the job of the Mayor and his council. If capitalizing on the benefits of hosting an Olympic Games were a sport, this Vision crew would barely make it to the podium to score even a bronze medal.
The opportunity afforded to Vancouver as a host city is much bigger than the actual 17 days of this international sporting event. In fact, Vancouver's focus should be on how it can leverage the Games for long-term benefits to the city. Vision's strategy of simply ensuring that Vancouver's hotel rooms are full is terribly short sighted.
Is it simply that Robertson and company don't agree we should be doing more? Or perhaps, as some have suggested, they are too afraid to offend their own base of left leaning supporters. If you recall, it was Vision/COPE that put the Olympic bid at risk when they held a costly $1 million dollar referendum in 2003.
With the appearance of Mayor Robertson on today's Bill Good Show, we now better understand why Vancouver passed a whole summer tourist season and did nothing to showcase the city in advance of the Games.
We've only got five months left before the world arrives...hopefully someone will advise the mayor and his team the starting pistol has gone off and the city is being left in the dust.