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Mayor and mining CEO use Olympics medals to sell green visions

Sustainability. It’s the rallying cry of the 2010 Winter Games. Or at least, you’d be forgiven for thinking so after today’s unveiling of the Olympics medals.

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and Teck Resources Limited president and CEO Don Lindsay used the event to peddle their own versions of sound green stewardship.

“Like the athlete that sets the goal of capturing the gold medal, we set the very ambitious sustainability goal here in Vancouver,” Mayor Robertson said.

His amplified words echoed throughout the spacious hall of the Southeast False Creek Community Centre. A packed crowd of reporters, athletes, VANOC officials, CEOs and Premier Gordon Campbell himself listened in silence.

Robertson described the $1.1 billion Athlete’s Village with a radiant glow. It’ll be the most environmentally sustainable community in North America, he said. A potent symbol of Vancouver’s forward green thinking.

The mayor’s short speech echoed themes from his recent address to the Vancouver Board of Trade. There, he proclaimed “Vancouver Green Capital” and designated himself the salesperson of west-coast sustainability.

“We know how important the medals are to these athletes,” he said today. “As Olympic host city…we are going for environmental gold.”

The head of Teck Resources Limited also used today’s event to advance a green agenda. The mining giant provided the actual metal for the medals. President and CEO Lindsay said it came recycled from old electronics such as cell-phones and laptops, an Olympics first.

“This is consistent with our mission to provide the world with vital minerals used in our day to day lives while meeting the highest standards of sustainability,” Lindsay said.

Teck, which has donated $629,170 to the BC Liberal party since 2005, is also a sizeable investor in Alberta's oil sands. It owns a 20 percent share in Fort Hills Energy Limited. The partnership with UTS Energy is developing two projects with a potential $12 billion price tag.

“We have a position in the oil sands,” Lindsay told the Tyee. Does that raise any concerns about Teck’s stated dedication to sustainability? “No, I don’t think there’s any concern about that,” he said.

In case you were wondering, the Olympics medals feature aboriginal designs. Their undulating shapes evoke Vancouver’s rolling waves and mountainous skyline.

After the ceremony, mayor Robertson sat astride his bicycle and chatted with reporters. His pant legs were tucked snugly into socks. He wore a bright helmut. When the questions were over, Robertson pedalled west along the False Creek seawall. He was soon lost in the distance.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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