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Group unimpressed with Vancouver Olympic legacy

By Christopher Pollon

The Olympic cauldron behind a security fence during the Vancouver event. (FILE PHOTO)

The Olympic cauldron behind a security fence during the Vancouver event. (FILE PHOTO)

An independent audit of the final financial statements for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games shows no debts or liabilities, turning the final page on an event that organizers say will have a lasting legacy for all Canadians.

“[We] achieved their goal of delivering outstanding Games with debt-free lasting legacies, including state-of-the-art sport facilities, knowledge and capacity for organizing major events and nation-wide shared pride and unity,” said Ken Dobell, chairman of the board at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee.

The audit, completed by Ernst and Young and announced Thursday, confirmed total revenues and expenses equally at $1.894 billion.

But VANOC’s description of a rosy games legacy is being taken to task by Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association in Vancouver, who says British Columbians got more than they asked for in the form of a lasting “security legacy” — created for the event, but now here to stay.

An “integrated security unit” was created in the lead-up to the Games, consisting of municipal and federal (RCMP) police and CSIS — which did widespread surveillance of “ordinary, law-abiding people.” That information still lives somewhere as a legacy in itself, she says, although no one investigated knows anything more.

Vonn says the heightened security needs of the 2010 Olympics justified the creation of a security unit essentially unaccountable to anyone — and now provides a model for all kinds of “mega-events,” including the controversial G-20 Toronto summit that followed the Olympics.

“The model of this unaccountable security unit, that you cannot penetrate for accountability and transparency purposes, is one of the troubling, lasting legacies of the Olympics.”


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