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VANOC sustainability plan ready next year

Games vice-president tells Whistler audience

By Vivian Moreau

Although describing the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) as a “a culture (that moves like it’s) on steroids or speed,” it didn’t move fast enough to enable one of the organization’s top vice-presidents to pull together a sustainability report for this year.

“We’ve been working under the hood getting the wiring hooked up,” said Linda Coady, VANOC’s sustainability head, in Whistler last week to address a consortium of 200 government, business and academic leaders at the the Pacific Northwest Economic Region summit in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Coady outlined what the organizing committee has been up to since she came on board this past year. Defining how the organization — part government, part non-government and part corporate — will work, what they want to achieve and what they want to leave behind has been VANOC’s focus.

But how to achieve those goals has been a challenge for what Coady described as a “strange entity,” resulting in a sustainability plan — a template for how the group can balance social, economic and environmental initiatives — that won’t be published until 2007, after VANOC finalizes funding issues in its business plan.

Coady, who has worked at the executive level in B.C.’s forest industry and on boards of the World Wildlife Foundation and Ecotrust, clicked rapidly through a 30-segment power point presentation, emphasizing balanced budgets, the Legacies Now Society, and the importance of the 2010 Games’ greenhouse gas and waste-neutral opportunities. She also stressed the imperative of making 2010 a diverse Games.

“We want to celebrate the new relationship with First Nations, spearheaded by the premier,” she said, noting the Games will be the first mandated socially inclusive Games to welcome a broad spectrum of groups and communities.

But when it came to nailing down concrete details of how the concept of sustainability will work for the Games, Coady came up short.

Liberal MP Blair Wilson questioned Coady after her presentation about what plans are in place regarding global warming, building standards and minimizing habitat impact.

“I can’t think of a better issue than climate change for cross-Games discussion,” Coady said, adding that what levels of “green building” will be used depends on each project.

Coady was one member of a four-person panel, hosted by MLA Joan McIntyre, that focused on sustainability issues for the Pacific Northwest region. Other panel members included provincial Environment Minister Barry Penner and Globe Foundation CEO Frank Crane. Just one of several sessions in the three-day PNWER forum, the sustainability discussion drew representatives from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and even Quebec.

Quebec MP Paul Crete asked Coady what measures were being taken to ensure the 2010 Games will be a bilingual event.

“You will hear French in our offices,” Coady said, adding that all 2010 packaging will be printed in both official languages.

English and French are also the official languages of the IOC.

Environment Minister Barry Penner spoke about the importance of B.C.’s independent power projects — thanking two EPCOR representatives in the audience for “helping us clean up our act” — as well as outlining green measures the province has recently undertaken, including a directive that all future government fleet vehicles be hybrids and using beetle-killed pine wood in the Richmond speed skating oval.

Globe Foundation CEO Frank Crane spoke on the imperative of moving quickly to implement 2010 sustainability measures.

“We need to show what we can do, not what we’ve done, to show that we’re going to be around after the flags are furled.”

The head of the non-profit group that organized this year’s World Urban Forum in Vancouver noted how corporate attitudes towards global warming have matured.

“Businesses are concerned about social and environmental issues, not just the bottom line,” he said. Crane added that General Electric used to have a motto that “what was good for GE was good for the world” and that has changed to “what is good for the world is good for GE.”

“We don’t yet know what will be the full impact of climate change, but we need to start figuring out now what we can do to make our cities better.”