Don't forget to thank these folks for the Games' success

Post by Mike Klassen in

10 comments

fallen-soldiers
Rogers, Rudberg, Ridge & Andrews: Vancouver's "fallen soldiers" of the 2010 Games

Thanks to last year's putsch by Vancouver's reigning Vision party, most of the city's key leadership behind staging the 2010 Games was lost. In all the raucus rounds of backslapping taking place at 12th & Cambie, we musn't forget the critical roles played by former City Manager Judy Rogers, former General Manager of Olympic Operations Dave Rudberg, and former Deputy City Managers James Ridge & Jody Andrews. It was decisions by them which assured that Vancouver had a successful 2010 experience.

In fact, it has been argued by those close to Vancouver's Olympic Host City operations, that their work on the 2010 file was so complete that even when people who were not enthusiastic about the Games (and we're being charitable in that assessment) took control, Vancouver's Olympics was a success in spite of it. "We call [Rogers et al] 2010's fallen soldiers," says a Vancouver City Hall staffer. "What's regrettable is all the missed opportunities for Vancouver during the Games because we lost their leadership."

While people are quick to point out that there were big crowds at the LiveCity sites, most feedback from them was how poor the content was. LiveCity Yaletown had four corporate pavilions, plus the laudable West House which was hidden in a corner of the site. And of course there was the disappointing Vancouver House, which was originally planned to be an interactive celebration of Vancouver culture located at Library Square, until the Mayor's office decided that it would be moved to an empty corner of the Yaletown live site.

"Not many know the story of what happened with Vancouver House," says our insider. "The Mayor wanted to have a pavilion devoted to the topic of homelessness until people convinced him it would be too depressing for an Olympic party. Then they came up with the idea of promoting Green Capital. In the end, what really ticked off a lot of people is how often the venue was closed to the public while they held private parties. This is when people are lining up for hours to get into venues, and Vancouver pavilion folks were telling people to come back another time."

Vancouver was also criticized for failing to notify local businesses to avail themselves of the opportunity of participating in – and profiting from – the Olympic fever. Some business owners are now realizing that they have missed an opportunity to earn a lot of revenue from the crowds, and they're pointing the finger of blame at City Hall for this.

Another move by Vancouver City Hall – hiring a private public relations firm instead of using city staff resources – was a costly and failed attempt to manage the city's public image. Vancouver announced just 2 months before the launch of the 2010 Games that they were replacing their Director of Communications with a Toronto-area political appointee with no contacts or rapport with local media. That move might explain why the city required the help of Karyo-Edelman public relations.

However, when the front fence at the LiveCity Yaletown venue collapsed, and a concert-goer had her leg broken as a result, I'm sure that that public relations firm came in handy.

"Perhaps the biggest disappointment in all this is how bad the final LiveCity Downtown site became," says the staffer. "Original plans did not include the heavy security that eventually became a part of that venue, and the whole property [the former bus depot site] was to be used, not just a fraction of it." Critics have said that LiveCity Downtown was perhaps the worst of all of Metro Vancouver's live sites as it featured very little in the way of fun activities, the big screen was impeded by a fence around a large lighting rig, and the food on-site was third rate.

We can only speculate now that if we had stayed the course with the folks who were preparing Vancouver for the Games, if the city would have done a better job with these key venues. What we can say however, is that the City of Vancouver was outworked by Surrey, Richmond, the Province and the Royal Canadian Mint in terms of creating a memorable 2010 experience.

10 Comments

I was with you on the accolades to all of the staff who are no longer at the COV, but who made this all happen. My hat goes off to them.

Where you lose it is in criticizing the Yaletown Livesite (I'll give you the Downtown site).

I was there almost every night of the Games (as a staffer, NOT an organizer), and I can say that people loved it.

Clearly you didn't see everyone dancing to the music, smiling like crazy, and going nuts for the closing show every night.

Criticism is always welcome, but you're way off base on the Yaletown Livesite.

judy who? forget about that loser mike and get on with your life,she's yesterday's news!Sure was good to see Gregor in the media spotlight soaking up the limelight and representing the city of vancouver and it's CURRENT employees.Stay tuned Klassen,more deadbeat managers at the city could soon be swept out during spring cleaning at city hall.

@staffer. $4 coffee. Wire fencing. Long line ups. Bad corporate pavilions. Kids injured at a concert. Magnetic security scanners. Unfriendly staff. Vancouver "yawn" House. Need I say any more. Mike hit the nail on the head.

I was at the downtown site and it was totally boring. Who chose these people to set it up? Wasn't it City staff who spear headed this?

Yes, Judy, Dave and Jody are to be absolutely credited for their hard work. Gregor and crew just breezed in and accepted all the accolades. Vancouver House was really dismal. What a waste of space. Yes, it was cool to see chandeliers made out of plastic hangers but that's about it.

Al, don't chuck those names out the door without first realizing what they did for the Olympics which took years of planning.

If LiveCity Downtown was going to continue on during the Paralympic Games, it would have made sense to locate more of the pavilions and attractions on that particular site.

Walking past the site during the Olympic games, I was surprised to see that the whole block wasn't maximized.

The tone of the 2010 Olympics and the appreciation for the games would not have happened if the average citizen did not have access to all these free venues.

And don't forget Susan Mundick who led the Park Board during the construction of the Killarney, Trout Lake and Hillcrest facilities.

Not to quibble Rachel but the Mayor and his "crew" didn't just "breeze in"-they were elected.

Peter Judd deserves significant recognition for his 'stop talking and get it done' attitude in the last 8 months. If the Olympics were in 2012, city staff would still be pondering how best to do things. It is shocking and shameful how many great ideas were left on the editing floor simply because time had run out.

Note to London and Sochi - city staff may be talented, handy and cost effective because they are already on the payroll but they are NOT event planners. They are also very unfamiliar with drop dead timelines and the 80/20 rule. Discussing things for 18 months and then giving yourself 6 weeks to make it happen is an invitation to disaster.

There were champions amongst staff who worked tirelessly to make this all happen and I would not want to diminish their efforts but really, far too many fabulous opportunities were missed. Far too much time was spent on things that never materialized and far too much energy was spent on things that required far less dithering.

Can we have a do-over?

The previous staff that left(were forced out)of City Hall after years of hard work to bring the games to Vancouver should be given kudos for all their hard work.PUBLICLY Honored.
As for the current administration shame on you for trying to TAKE CREDIT away from those that toiled so hard. People that left after years of effort just before getting to take part in the fruits of their labor, didn't leave by choice... so let 's be really honest.

Al, you seem to forget that this country has rich history that we honor.
The "Judy who" comment clearly demonstrates that you don't quite understand, she is part of "Vancouver"s history and the Olympic Legacy far more than Gregor just based on the amount of years she held her position and lived here. It is called experience and all the people that left after the election had far more experience than most of this current crew.
People's contributions don't just go away when a person leaves a position ( or is unjustly ousted).
As for the "deadbeat managers soon to lose their jobs with the spring cleaning.... don't be too sure. The common minions are coming forward and telling their stories, now that the world has gone home, the dirty laundry can be aired...by the way, I have not heard a single person say they think Penny is doing a better job.
Why does it feel as if City Hall has become an extension of High School, but meaner.

Thanks, Stuart. You're right on about Susan. I'm sorry I left her off the list. I don't care what petty grievances some may have had with her – she ran a big operation for a long time and we're pretty proud of our park system, aren't we?

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