The legacy effect: two years later, Comox Valley still basks in Olympic-afterglow
How Comox Valley, “the little town that could,” succeeded in putting itself on the world stage
Even though the iconic red mittens and charred torches of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have long been put away, one small non-venue community, the Comox Valley, still basks in the afterglow of a strong Olympic legacy.
Located halfway up Vancouver Island’s east coast, Comox Valley is a full 274-km (170-mile) trek (either by car and ferry or by airplane) from Whistler, the official alpine hosting grounds for the 2010 Winter Games. And in addition to its endless shorelines, rolling farmlands and bustling city centres, the Comox Valley is also home to Mount Washington Alpine Resort – a mecca for snow-sport enthusiasts with annual massive snow accumulation and a spot that, pre-Olympics, was virtually unheard of by the outside world.
But this would soon change, thanks to the guidance of the Comox Valley Spirit Committee (chaired by Susan Kelsey, former Olympian) and the dedication of a number of stakeholders, ranging from governmental representatives to sports associations and members of the private sector.
Some of the region’s Olympic-centric legacy milestones include carrying out a $1M technical upgrade of Mount Washington’s cross-country ski trails, stadium and biathlon range (2006); holding two International Paralympic World Cups (2007 and 2009); inspiring the entire Comox Valley community during the Olympic Torch Relay (2009); hosting pre-Games training camps on Mount Washington to represent 14 counties, 33 teams and 350 Olympic and Paralympic athletes (2010); and, in the days immediately preceding the Games, receiving visits from more than 30 national and international media (2010).
And according to a report prepared by Vannstruth Consulting Group for the Comox Valley Economic Impact, the 2010 Winter Games had multiple economic impacts, including an additional local spending of $4.35M.
The most recent Olympic legacy for the Comox Valley is the opening of the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Centre, a 743-square-metre (8,000-square-foot) facility that includes fitness equipment, a sports science lab, equipment storage and dorm-style accommodations.
All this is good news for other small, non-Olympic venue communities looking for an economic boost and sustaining legacy. And with a focus now firmly set on enhancing the strategy for hosting future world-class sporting events, the team at Comox Valley Economic Development continues to network with and host visits from a number of Nordic sports federations.
To read the full Comox Valley Economic Development reports, including ones on the lasting Olympic legacy and the Games’ economic impact, visit www.investcomoxvalley.com/businessresources/statisticsandreports.htm.