Olympics spurred $2 billion-plus investment in Richmond

RICHMOND, BC, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - The City of Richmond is continuing to reap major economic and social benefits from being an official Venue City of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. More than $2 billion in new investment within the City, including the Richmond Olympic Oval and new waterfront development, is linked to the Games.

"The 2010 Games were a transformative milestone for Richmond," says Mayor Malcolm Brodie. "The new developments in our community related to the Games will dramatically change our community and continue Richmond's evolution into a distinct, destination city for tourism and investment. The incredible social legacies we gained from being part of the Games will ensure the quality of life in Richmond remains among the highest in Canada."

Some specific legacies Richmond has gained from the Games:

Richmond Olympic Oval: The $178 million Oval is universally recognized as the premier venue of the 2010 Games and 100,000 people attended the speed skating events during the Olympics. The Oval has won more than three dozen awards in categories ranging from architectural design to sustainability. It achieved Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Since the Games, the Oval has been transformed into a multi-purpose international centre of excellence for sport, recreation, health, wellness and culture. It has hosted more than 800,000 visitors since its opening in 2008 and is averaging 40,000 visitors a month. The Oval hosts ongoing programs and events in a wide variety of both summer and winter sports for all levels, from novice and recreational to elite. It also hosts one of the region's largest fitness centres and a variety of other amenities supporting both community and high performance sport uses.

"The Oval will contribute to Richmond remaining as one of Canada's most active and healthy communities," says Mayor Brodie. "The Olympic and other elite athletes who train and compete at the Oval are a tremendous inspiration for our youth, many of whom will become the next generation of Canadian sport champions."

River Green: The Oval is at the centre of a new urban waterfront neighbourhood, which will entail an investment of $1.7 billion by the developer at build out. The City initially sold and leased 7.7-hectares (19-acres) of riverfront land to ASPAC Developments for $141 million to help finance the construction of the Oval. ASPAC has since assembled additional properties and has now embarked on creating River Green, an 11.3-hectare (28-acre) master planned upscale neighbourhood surrounding the Oval that will include more than 2,500 new residential units.

The $141 million proceeds from the Oval lands sale allowed establishment of a nearly $100 million reserve fund for future investments. This has already allowed the City to purchase the Garden City Lands, a key parcel of 55-hectares (136-acres) adjoining Richmond's City Centre, as well as to fund the Oval's post-Games conversion.

City Centre Development: The completion of the $2 billion Canada Line (also an Olympic legacy) has spurred renewed interest in development in Richmond's City Centre. The construction value of building permits issued in Richmond in 2010 surpassed $800 million, an all-time record. The new growth is primarily focused on high density residential projects in the City Centre and is expected to continue at a strong pace in 2011. Population in Richmond's City Centre is expected to grow by 50,000 over the next two decades.

Waterfront Development: The City completed the first phase of a new City Centre Park along the Middle Arm of the Fraser River. The first phase included $8.5 million in improvements to the Middle Arm Greenway with new outdoor plazas, playgrounds, amphitheatre, and other public amenities. The Greenway leads to the Oval's Riverfront Plaza, a major new venue for outdoor events. The Middle Arm Greenway was the main pedestrian link to the Oval during the Games.

Tourism Growth: More than 500,000 people visited the Richmond O Zone celebration site during the Games and 100,000 spectators attended Olympic events at the Oval. More than 11,000 new post-Olympic room bookings were initially secured by Richmond hotels through Games-times hosting of international tour operators. Tourism is expected to continuously grow due to the new awareness of Richmond as a destination city and because of key marketing strategies launched during the Games, such as the Richmond Sport Hosting Program. Richmond also received millions of dollars worth of exposure in positive media coverage around the world.

Economic Development: Richmond took part in a regional economic development initiative that brought dozens of international business decision-makers to Metro Vancouver during the Games. Over the last 12 months, Richmond businesses alone have realized $1.3 million in new contracts to date—investment that has generated dozens of high-paying full-time jobs with strong prospects for additional new contracts.

Volunteer Capacity: About 1,500 volunteers were recruited and screened for Richmond's Olympic programs. About 1,200 volunteers contributed more than 30,000 hours for those programs. This provides Richmond with enhanced capacity to support major events and other social and recreational programs with a skilled and experienced volunteer workforce.

Arts and Culture: Richmond's 2010 Arts and Culture Program led to the creation of many events and initiatives as a lead up to the Games, which now have become ongoing annual events within the community. This includes the six-week Richmond Winter Festival of the Arts and Winterfest Weekend, which is expected to draw 25,000 participants in 2011.

SOURCE City of Richmond

For further information:

Media Contact:
Ted Townsend
Senior Manager, Corporate Communications
City of Richmond
Tel: 604-276-4399            Cell: 604-516-9585
Email: ttownsend@richmond.ca

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