Tuesday, June 29, 2010

VANOC exec to post-G20 Toronto

Slowly but surely, Vancouver 2010 alumni are finding new gigs.

Dan Doyle, the VANOC construction executive vice-president, became the BC Hydro chairman last year. Deputy CEO Dave Cobb followed in May and became the provincial power utility's CEO.

On June 29, vice-president of workforce operations and integration Allen Vansen was named senior-vice president of operations for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games organizing committee.

Vansen was among five senior executives introduced at BMO Field by CEO Ian Troop.

Vansen was not available for a phone interview, but I’m betting the Newfoundlander’s red hair will turn grey rather quickly over the next five years. His responsibilities include security, transportation and the athletes’ village.

After the G20 summit mayhem, anybody planning anything in Toronto with security or transportation implications will naturally have a bigger challenge and more headaches than ever before. Troop is putting the best face on what lies ahead.

“We don’t have any political meaning,” he said. “We’re a great athletic event that we’ll make into a great community event.”

VANOC CEO John Furlong wished that was true. From Feb. 12, 2007 onward, VANOC looked over its shoulder as it was constantly dogged by protests. Some opponents had a direct beef with the Games, how much they were costing and how they were impacting the city and environment. Others hoped to use the Games to lever their political cause (or increase donations to their charity). It meant VANOC held few public events until the torch relay.

Furlong admitted in May that transportation was the biggest IOC worry from the bid days to the day after the Olympic flame was was extinguished.

The Olympic village in Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek became a casualty of the Great Recession. Vancouver city hall became the lender and battled to get it back on schedule.

Vancouver had effective watchdogs, like No Games 2010's Chris Shaw, Impact on Community Coalition's Am Johal and B.C. Civil Liberties Association's David Eby. They continuously reminded VANOC, governments and security authorities to be responsible and avoid a repeat of the 1997 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Their wasn't an organized opposition to G20 in Toronto, because it was organized so quickly by politicians and bureaucrats who maybe never heard of APEC.

That’s just a long way of saying that Troop (centre) and Vansen (second from left) are in for some long days and long nights to organize what will be the biggest summer sports event in Canadian history.

* * * * *
Who else is on the Toronto 2015 executive team?

Chief financial officer Barbara Anderson has a bachelor of science degree from the University of B.C. and is the former CFO of MaRS Discovery District and MaRS Innovation.

Senior vice-president of marketing and revenue Kathy Henderson is a former Whirlpool Corporation and Colgate-Palmolive Canada marketing executive. Senior vice-president of human resources Elaine Roper is formerly of Think Company, Promis Systems Corporation and Royal Trust Corp.

Senior vice-president of infrastructure Bill Senn helped build Air Canada Centre in Toronto and American Airlines Arena in Miami and was senior vice-president of design and construction for the New York Jets, who are moving into the New Meadowlands Stadium.

How to spell HST: Host without the Olympic "o."


In the weeks before the 2010 Winter Olympics opened Feb. 12, a big, white box to the west of the Vancouver Convention Centre, hid something special.

I cornered Premier Gordon Campbell Feb. 8 when he unveiled a tribute to late VANOC chairman Jack Poole at the Four Host First Nations pavilion and revealed the next day that the big, white box on Jack Poole Plaza was concealing the outdoor cauldron.

Wayne Gretzky was taken, by pick-up truck, to the foot of Thurlow Street after the opening ceremony, and marked the official end of the Olympic torch relay by lighting the outdoor cauldron. About an hour later, the one inside B.C. Place Stadium was extinguished for fear that it would burn the air-supported fabric roof.

VANOC, in its haste to organize the Games, didn’t realize the plaza would become a hot spot for shutterbugs. I witnessed one fella climb the chain link barrier to get a better photo.

The excuse was that it was inside the security perimeter for the international broadcast centre. VANOC finally buckled to public pressure. The fencing was altered and a viewing deck opened, but it was still far from perfect, even during the March 12-21 Paralympics when crowds were smaller.

The Terasen Gas-sponsored cauldron burns again during the Canada Day at Canada Place festivities on July 1. The fences that remain are supposed to disappear as the edifice on Jack Poole Plaza becomes a monument to the 2010 Winter Games and their torch relays.

The official schedule shows various indoor and outdoor activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., a mass-singing of O Canada when the O Canada horns sound at noon, 7 p.m. Georgia Street parade, 8:30 p.m. light show on Canada Place’s soon-to-be-replaced Five Sails and the 10:30 p.m. Burrard Inlet fireworks.

No ceremony is planned to re-light the cauldron, which is supposed to burn from 10 a.m. until the conclusion of the fireworks.

The Olympic flame was lit Oct. 22 in Ancient Olympia, Greece, flown to Victoria, B.C. Oct. 30 (where it was also protested) and carried coast-to-coast-to-coast around Canada for 106 days by 12,000 people (including your humble servant). But on Canada Day, an anonymous control room operator inside the convention centre will activate the cauldron with no pomp, circumstance or fanfare.

So much for the spectacle and the so-called sacred sculpture.

But why should we be surprised? Such a ceremony would have to involve Campbell. The Premier's worst nightmare is for the anti-HST Red Bloc to show up en masse in red mittens and simultaneously rip them off to reveal one-fingered salutes on day one of the unpopular sales tax shift.

Before it was the site of the cauldron, before it was called Jack Poole Plaza, it was the scene of the Sept. 19, 2009 anti-HST rally that kicked the sales tax revolt into high gear.

Host province British Columbia is now an HST province to clean up the Olympic debt.

Hope you enjoyed the party!

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