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October 28, 2017 6:03 am

2015 Games Could Transform P.G. Says Professor

Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 3:59 AM

Prince George, B.C. – What will the Canada Winter Games mean to Prince George?  That all depends on how the local  people experience them says Dr. Harry Hiller,  Director of the Cities and the Olympics Project & Faculty Professor of Urban Sociology at the University of Calgary .

Dr. Hiller  has written a book about the impact of major sporting events on host cities and has made presentations around the world on that subject.  Later today, he  will make such a presentation  at UNBC.

“What we have discovered at other cities  that have hosted mega sporting events is that there is the strong possibility, if everything comes together appropriately, that the  experience  of hosting the Games will  transform the way people  experience their own city.”

He says  if the right kind of preparations have taken place, such as providing other events like free concerts and an  active street life for those who don’t have tickets to the sporting events, will  transform  the city by creating a festival atmosphere.  “A festival atmosphere creates very fond memories and makes people feel the Games  are worth it” says Dr. Hiller, and that leaves people with a good feeling about  living in their city.

The transformation may not be permanent, “It provides people with a feeling that their city is a great place in which to live” says Dr. Hiller, “Because the city is now a place not just to live, but to enjoy, that’s the kind of  transformation  that these mega events  can have if the opportunities are there” and from what he has learned about the plans for the 2015 Games, all the right elements are in place to create that kind of outcome in Prince George.

But from two weeks of  events and celebrations,  to the norm of  a typical March in Prince George,  will people be left with a  post Games hangover? “Well normally people talk about a post games hangover when you talk about the economic costs,  in this case,  we’re not expecting that kind of thing to happen, but  what it can do, is that once things  go back to normal  and it’s not as busy, it emphasizes how important the Games were because they did  create the transformation.”

There is a possibility of a permanent  transformation, as was the case in Halifax, where after the Winter Games in that city, residents called  upon their municipal government to carry on with the downtown  public ice rink that had been set  up for the duration of those Games “People have come to realize there are other ways of doing things in the City” but he says  it doesn’t always work out that way. “Let me give you an illustration from the 1988 Olympics in Calgary where people said ‘I think this is so great we should have a winter festival every year at this same time’. And so the idea  was this would be a legacy of the Olympics, and  you know what, it never happened to the same extent.  People didn’t get behind it in the same way.”

Part of the problem in trying to recreate the special time  of a mega sporting event says Dr. Hiller  is that  people mobilized,  there were finances put in place, and thousands of visitors were in the community , but  that isn’t likely to happen again.  “You have to remember there are going to be  thousands of people streaming into this City who don’t normally come in  February. So in that sense it’s unrepeatable and that’s why you have to take advantage of it while you  can.”

And don’t forget , there will be plenty of media attention in the community, looking to  share stories of  the community, its people and culture “The presence of media  in itself changes everything,  they’re everywhere shooting everything that’s going on, so  it’s hard to repeat that because you don’t have that influx of visitors and athletes as well as media and that is part of the magic too.”

Dr. Hiller will be speaking at UNBC this afternoon at 3:30 in Lecture Theatre 7-238





I hope he’s right. I feel people are becoming more proud of our city, and I think this event is coming at the right time. Everyone should focus on being great hosts, and welcome our guests!

What a load of bunk . I chose to stay in PG because I liked the big small town that it used to be. Downtown was great , had everything you needed in walking distance . It was affordable to live here , taxes were low and we have abundant outdoor recreation . The last 30 odd yrs of this mentality that we need to transform into a small big city with everything that the large centres have to offer without the tax base to support has destroyed it . “Magic” what a load it has to be paid for !

Why do they go to these professors for comments? They are so wishy washy it’s hilarious. I remember one prof stated Costco getting a gas bar may or may not impact the price of gas in town.. Now this one saying it could or could not benefit PG.. Anyone can be a fence sitter..

Dr Hiller sounds like he could write all he knows about Prince George on the head of a pin!!!

ntkr14 Stanford University scientists could write about 50 sets of encyclopaedias on the head of a pin.

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