Planning for the Vancouver Olympics

The Winter Olympics will begin later this week in Vancouver, British Columbia. Like other hosts of such large-scale sporting events, the city has been getting ready for the international spotlight for many years. To hear more about what's been going on in the city in terms of urban planning, I interviewed Vancouver Planning Director Brent Toderian, and you can read a transcript of that Q&A on Places.

Toderian, as many Planetizen readers will already know, is also an active contributor to Interchange, where he writes about some of the city's most forward-thinking moves to help create the dense urban environment that has become the model for North American urbanism.

Our discussion focused mainly on the Olympics and how they will impact the city's urbanism. Toderian tells us about the years leading up to the Olympics, what it was like to take over as planning director halfway through the city's preparations for the event, and what sort of legacy the Games will leave on Vancouver.

Here's a brief excerpt of the interview, which appears in full on Places:

Nate Berg: From an urban planning perspective, what impact do you think the games will have on the city?

Brent Toderian: I think we're going to have significant physical legacies of the Olympics, not the least of which is Athletes Village. And on top of that we have our new Canada Line subway that connects the airport to downtown, and a number of athletic facilities, either new or upgraded, that will be sport legacies for the city. But there's also physical infrastructure and what we call "look-of-the-city" legacies that will make the city more livable. In fact, we've spent over 6 million dollars of the budget on public art pieces scattered across the city, integrated into the urban realm, that will make the city better from a look-of-the-city perspective long after the Olympics are over. So I think from a physical city-builder's perspective, the legacies will be powerful. From a policymaker's perspective we have a legacy of new attitudes and standards and policies that have fundamentally changed business as usual for Vancouver.

Nate Berg is a contributing editor for Planetizen and freelance journalist.

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