Vision likely won't make the podium in 2010

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,


Apart from a few ribbon cuttings, Robertson has been nowhere on the Olympics file

As my 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.


In this interview with Bill Good, Roberston says, We don't have the anywhere near same amount of Bunff in this city that as other cities have had for the Olympics... Bunff??? Is that the same word for energy, enthusiasm, or excitement? How about creating a bit of bunff about the city for our summer tourists... Bunff? . ...mmm.. I wonder what bunff we could find if cycling was a sport in the winter games.
Please Bubble Boy, curb your enthusiasm for the Olympics. It's overwhelming.

I shall not defend the extent of Mr. Robertson's ability to articulate, but I have some comments about Games promotion.

Building wraps have a limited life span and they're expensive; you'll start to see them going up from about October onward.

Promotional efforts have been on-going for about a year -- you needed the lede time to hit the publication of tourism price catalogues -- through efforts via Tourism BC, Canadian Tourism Commission. There have been dozens of newspaper reports from various countries -- US, Australia, England, to name a tiny few -- over just the past year extolling the virtues of Vancouver (the local media only report the ones that crap on us, like the Beeb report the other day, and they happily ignore previous Beeb reports that were much nicer).

VANOC has semi-annual Angus Reid tracking polls showing about 90% of Canadians are aware of the Games and that 79% support them (with most of the rest being neutral), so I'm thinking further promotion expenditures in that quarter are not needed for now.

CTV just announced a batch of programming, which will also be carried by all of Rogers Media cable channels, of Games-focused programs between now and the Games, and they've been running lots of Games-related station breaks for several months now. Those'll increase in length and frequency\ as the Games get closer. NBC has done the same.

Thousands of media will be working in downtown Vancouver for weeks during the Games, and many of their firms sent reps to a big conference-style briefing in Vancouver last November so they could learn on the resources being made available for them, including story lines about Vancouver. They will be potentially showing us off to about three billion eyeballs; just playing the percentages, a few of them might decide to show up here over the next few years after the Games even if Vancouver does nothing (and it is doing something).

VANOC has dozens of corporate sponsors (most of whom are big guns and most of whom have been dealing with City Hall on a number of Games-related matters for several years now), and they'll all be running Games-related marketing in the last few months before Games (Rona's doing a big splash now covering 650 stores across Canada with a contest tied directly into the Games). The Olympic Torch run across Canada for the last 100 days before the Games is in fact all marketing.

BC, through its Olympics Secretariat, its 2010 Commerce Centre and its planning for what's going to happen at Robson Square during the Games, has been handling the biz-to-biz side for several years now. The Games will be on big community screens all over the province.

Well, OK, what about Vancouver City? Vancouver City has its own plans, as has Richmond and Whistler, for hosting biz and other VIPs who are going to be here for the Games. Vancouver will have its own pavilion near the Queen E Theatre for about two months, and it's in the process of programming it now.

The City has been visited by quite a few corporate executives interested in how the City's planning to host the Games, and how they can be a part of it. (Biz promotion works differently than public promotion, because you know where the biz people that interest you work, so you can contact them directly; you don't need to spend big money on large public marketing.)

There's been a billion dollars worth of work going on in Southeast False Creek which has gained positive as well as negative attention in international media (but they spell our name right each time).

There are dozens of other projects City staff have under way stemming from that $20 million of operations money.

Come January, you'll see the City central transformed, with business people all over the place.

Getting ready for something whose time has yet to arrive is not the same thing as doing nothing, articulated or not.


Thanks for informing our readers on some Olympic related information they may not be aware of. Much appreciated.

You indicate that "Building wraps have a limited life span and they're expensive".

Presumably the city doesn't pay anything for these wraps? Don't they simply need to approve them? It is the private sector that has to pick up the tab...however, I'm told city officials have frowned upon approving building wraps in general. Have you heard anything to the contrary?

I thought we had outlawed squeegee people?...

Check out!

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