Here's How to Help Keep British Columbia (Properly) Green After The Winter Olympics

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
| Helping environmentally-conscientious business leaders choose environmentally-friendly solutions.

Here's How to Help Keep British Columbia (Properly) Green After The Winter Olympics

Amidst climate change that has led to an unusually warm winter even by West Coast standards that made mush out of Cypress, the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games has seen some green achievements, some of which are staying and others which are leaving, but can stay if only businesses, governments and individuals can take action.

* One of the most significant is the expansion of the TransLink transit system both permanent and temporary to accommodate massive numbers of people, and they did. During the first week of the Olympics more people than ever before - way more - more than 1.6 million people per day rode TransLink's network of diesel and electric trolley buses, urban rapid transit and commuter trains, and ferries. 

Trust me: they were packed. Even from the car-oriented suburbs like where we live there were standees all the way in and out, nearly 24 hours a day. 

"Week one ridership has been staggering and our system has been equal to the task," says TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis.  "This is a testament to a solid plan that built in the flexibility to respond and the great execution of our planners, transit operators, mechanics, customer service personnel and transit hosts."

* Companies heeded the call to working from home including firms such as CounterPath, which makes softphones and Telus, a leading carrier which markets and supplies work-at-home solutions

The hope is that the high transit and telework use continues with the ending of the Olympics. To keep that up needs prodding to and by governments in the form of finding ways to keep some of the Olympics transit services going, like Bombardier's Olympic Line streetcar that will end March 21, and in developing incentives to induce firms to create permanent telework programs.

(If any of you were at the Olympics and rode the streetcar I invite you to contact Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to him know, so he can let others i.e. Translink, the province know how much you want to have the 'tram' to stay in Vancouver.)

At the same time viewers have been bombarded, quite naturally with tourism ads promoting British Columbia, showing its vistas plus its cities. For me as a British Columbian they are moving for the province has always been my home ever since I first moved out here in 1980 as a university student. 

Yet one of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia--the Jordan River area west of Victoria, which is the closest spot to the capital where one can truly see, hear and feel the wildness of the inappropriately named Pacific Ocean-- is threatened with ugly, environment-killing sprawl. It will happen unless cash-paying visitors let the province i.e. Premier Gordon Campbell know in bottom-line terms how unhappy they will be if his government allows this development to go ahead. There are efforts now to try and save them via the Dogwood Initiative and The Land Conservancy, whose sites explain the issue but time is running out. Action is needed.

Yes, going and staying green requires work and involvement like the call to action for the above issues. I'm active in front of and behind the scenes. Yet without such action we will most certainly lose the quality of life we have. And if there is success the payoff is enabling a sustainable environment for all of us.


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