21 February 2011
Vancouver, British Columbia
Thank you to my introducer, Minister Chuck Strahl, for that kind introduction, and for your work on the project that we are celebrating the completion of today.
I also want to give greetings to so many of my colleagues who are here. It’s great to be back in Vancouver.
Of course, I was here exactly a year ago, when the Olympics were in full swing. Everyone in this city did such a fantastic job of hosting the world in 2010. And, I know, for literally millions of Canadians, like our family, it will be a moment that we will never forget.
These truly were Canada’s Games, with our national team winning more gold medals than any other country ever.
I hope this result not only makes us proud of these incredible young men and women who achieved it. I also hope it sets an example, from everything to the planning to the hosting, and to the winning, of what this country is truly capable of achieving: being the best in the world.
In any case, thank you again Vancouver and British Columbia, for that tremendous example, and such a triumphant moment in the history of our country. We will never forget it.
Of course, visitors to Canada also returned home with memories that will last forever, not only of the competitions and the athletes, but also of this great city. Familiar local spots, like Granville Island, Stanley Park, and Grouse Mountain are now internationally known. And not just to travellers, but to the worldwide television audience.
With the world’s media working right here at the convention centre, the rooftop sails stood out as Canada’s Pacific waterfront beacon to the world.
The sails are a Canadian icon. They always make for a lovely panoramic picture. But it’s a good thing nobody zoomed in for a close-up, because the old sails were worn out.
It really was time for them to be replaced. I gather it was actually quite urgent. After all, they were installed for Expo 86, and two-and-a-half decades of service have taken their toll.
The sails are a larger-than-life symbol of our country’s strength. As such, replacing them was a massive undertaking. So far, more than 114,000 man-hours of work have been put into the roof. This project created 165 jobs, at a time when the Games were over and the local economy needed a boost.
All five sails have been replaced – and they look terrific. Some concrete work and waterproofing is all that remains to be done.
So ladies and gentlemen, it is safe to say that this great construction team is getting the job done on time and under budget!
The new sails will last for 30 years and they will continue to provide a spectacular welcome to 1 million cruise ship visitors and 3 million Canada Place guests each and every year.
This harbour has been welcoming people to Vancouver, British Columbia and to Canada since the 19th century. And by making the right investments today we can make sure that it will continue to thrive for generations to come.
This is, of course, exactly the kind of infrastructure project that was perfectly timed for Canada’s Economic Action Plan. We chose to invest in infrastructure projects that have a clear beginning, middle and end. These are projects that have been put off for some time, but could create jobs in the short term and leave a legacy for the future.
We are also renovating two other world-renowned attractions that bring in visitors from around the world -- the Vancouver Aquarium, and Science World.
In fact, under our Economic Action Plan, over the past two years we have funded more than 1600 projects that are improving communities right across B.C.
Now let me just conclude by saying once again, that although the Canadian economy is continuing to grow and create jobs, we’re in a global recovery that remains very fragile.
By focusing on the economy, by reducing taxes and keeping them down, and targeting our expenditures on investments like this one, we are standing up for Canadians.
And, by making long-term investments like this one, to fight against a global recession, Canada is emerging - and will continue to emerge – stronger than ever.