The 2010 Winter Games: Lasting Legacies
Environment Canada’s people and technology helped to make the 2010 Winter Games a success.
Photo: Bill Scott © Environment Canada, 2010
One year ago, the streets of Vancouver and Whistler were a hub of activity when more than 2.3 million people from some 80 countries arrived for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Canada showed its best, in part thanks to the Government of Canada, which partnered in helping to ensure the 2010 Winter Games were well-managed and staged successfully. In turn, Environment Canada was called on to play an important role in the planning and delivery of the 2010 Winter Games. To meet the challenges of the 2010 Winter Games, Environment Canada successfully delivered critical expertise and services by:
- Providing advanced weather services;
- Offering federal leadership and coordination regarding the environmental sustainability of the Games; and
- Contributing scientific and technical expertise to the environmental assessment process for Olympic-related venues and infrastructure.
The contributions were far reaching in many cases. From the delivery of specialized weather services to playing a key role in the delivery of what were deemed the most sustainable Games ever, Environment Canada created a legacy on which to build future accomplishments.
Creating a Lasting Legacy
Looking back, it is evident that the spirit of excellence that became a part of the 2010 Winter Games lives on. The lessons learned, and the collaborations formed, continue to foster excellence in the department.
“If we look at the entire team, more than 150 Environment Canada employees played a part in delivering Environment Canada’s contributions to the Games. You will see that the real legacy is the relationships – they have lasted and will continue to endure beyond the Olympics,” said Al Wallace, Acting Regional Director General for the Pacific and Yukon Region. During the years to prepare and at the time of the Games, Al was Regional Director the Meteorological Service of Canada in the Pacific and Yukon Region.
Weather Services was Essential
SNOW-V10 improved the forecasters’ ability to do short-term forecasts of weather that impacted the Games.
Photo: © Environment Canada, 2009
The weather forecasts, warnings, and information were essential for the safety, security, and delivery of the 2010 Winter Games. Leading scientific research was critical and it ensured the successful implementation of all events. For example, Environment Canada took the lead on an innovative short-term or now-casting project for the World Meteorological Organization: Snow-V10. The research project enabled forecasters to use wireless communications to access conditions along the slopes as frequently as once a minute.
The knowledge gained is now being disseminated in a variety of ways, from international collaboration to publishing. An Environment Canada monograph entitled "Mountain weather research and forecasting: recent progress and current challenges" will be published by the American Meteorological Society later this year. And of course, the forecast team who returned to their home organizations after being recruited from Environment Canada across Canada, the US National Weather Service, and a Canadian private meteorological firm, are sharing and applying what they learned.
Sustainability Success Story
Environment Canada advised on the building of sustainable venues for the Winter Games.
Photo: © VANOC/COVAN, 2010
Notably, Canada’s 2010 Winter Games were considered the most sustainable Games to date, and Environment Canada was proud to be a part of that success. The Government of Canada worked with the organizing committee and other partners to build sustainability into the 2010 Winter Games.
For example, Environment Canada’s scientific and technical experts assisted with the environmental assessments of Olympic venues construction sites to ensure the protection of air quality, water quality, migratory birds and species at risk. Results of this work included changing the location of the ski jump at the Whistler Nordic Centre, which was moved to reduce effects on old growth forest, wetlands and local species. In addition, an environmental assessment led to efforts to improve habitat for the western tailed frog, and the ecological footprint of the Cypress mountain venue was reduced.
Environment Canada worked collaboratively to build capacity with others in the science community and first responders. By readying Environment Canada experts on the provision of subject matter expertise, analytical support, laboratory analysis, modeling capacity and specialized forecasting, a wealth of knowledge was gained on how to best react to unplanned or deliberate threats such as the release of hazardous materials.
Envisioning the future
Environment Canada’s employees put in a gold-medal performance to fulfill various roles as the official weather services provider, federal lead on sustainability, and supporter of Games security and emergency preparedness. “It was a special project. We knew if we aligned talent properly, we could do it. And we did. Our success was demonstrated in the feedback we received,” said Al Wallace. There was a mission to accomplish and the outcome is that Environment Canada showed its best. The knowledge gained is indeed part of the department’s future.
- Date Modified:
- Environment Canada was called on to play an important role in the planning and delivery of the 2010 Winter Games
- Canada’s 2010 Winter Games were considered the most sustainable Games to date
- The weather forecasts, warnings, and information provided by Environment Canada were essential for the safety, security, and delivery of the 2010 Winter Games
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