Can Vancouver life get any better with Games?

Mon Feb 8, 2010 5:48pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Cities that take on the gargantuan task of hosting Olympic Games contend that the costly investment leads to a better quality of life for its denizens for years to come.

But the 2010 Winter Games host Vancouver is already ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world, leading some to wonder if the Olympics can add anything to this Canadian city on the so-called 'Left Coast'.

"The bar is set so high now that it will be interesting to see if they do," said Randy Albertson, 55, as he gathered with friends in downtown Vancouver at the countdown board for the Games that open on Friday.

'Vangroovy' or 'Lotusland' -- as the city of 2.1 million is known in Canada -- is by most accounts clean, friendly, safe, multicultural and a gastronomic paradise.

Surrounded by water and snowy mountains, it is the epitome of the healthy outdoors, allowing for golf in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.

With just one highway that skirts downtown, the city also boasts public transport that allows many Vancouverites to go car-free. Even Mayor Gregor Robertson travels by bike, despite one of the city's downsides -- frequent rain.

Vancouver was ranked as the world's most livable city in 2009 by The Economist and was fourth in Mercer's "Quality of Living" survey of 215 cities for the same year.

The mayor said Vancouver is so advanced on issues like anti-smoking laws that it willingly compromised on those issues to accommodate the Olympics.   Continued...

<p>A skier sits on a chairlift over the downhill course of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 7, 2010. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay</p>