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VANOC releases its first sustainability report

Critics offer praise for goal of hosting a socially sustainable Games, but say report falls short of expectations



By Clare Ogilvie

The 2010 Winter Games will be the first Olympics to be socially sustainable.

While the idea may seem less than groundbreaking to a community like Whistler it is, in fact, a first of its kind for a hallmark event like a Winter Olympics.

The position was clearly outlined this week as the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) released the first of its annual sustainability reports.

“We are very serious about this,” said Linda Coady, the vice president of sustainability for VANOC.

“It is not a bumper sticker, or a plaque, or an information brochure. We are going after this in a rigorous and accountable way that we hope at Games time people in Canada can be very proud of because it speaks to their values.”

The 82-page report is the compass by which VANOC will measure how it is doing on sustainable issues as it moves the Games into its operational stage. A report will be released each year and in 2009/2010 it will be evaluated by an outside source to ensure accuracy in reporting.

There are six performance objectives; Accountability, environmental stewardship and impact reduction, social inclusion and responsibility, aboriginal collaboration and participation, economic benefits from sustainable practice and sport for sustainable living.

Colin Hansen, the provincial minister responsible for the Olympics, welcomed the report.

I think it shows that VANOC is on track to delivering on the commitment that they made to have the most sustainable Games ever to date,” he said.

All of these measures will be evaluated within a VANOC definition outlined in the report. It states: “We have drawn our sustainability reporting boundaries around those issues and activities where VANOC has direct decision-making authority.”

That means that it is not responsible for sustainability issues in building the Richmond skating oval, for example, or the upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway.

But it does mean it is responsible for sustainability at new venues VANOC is building, such as the Whistler Nordic Centre.

VANOC will also measure how much energy it uses, the emissions created by its operations, indeed, every employee will have some role to play in reaching VANOC’s sustainability goals, said Coady.

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