Wider Horizons

In roughly five months, when the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games open, among the most intent observers sochiwill be members of the delegation from Sochi, a relatively small Russian city on the shore of the Black Sea, chosen as host of the 2014 games.

They will come to glean as much information as they can to ferry back to Sochi. After touring the site in June as part of a Canadian trade delegation to Russia, my sense is there are many preparations to be done to make an event of Olympic proportions fit comfortably into an ecologically sensitive strip of seashore and its natural surrounding areas.

Lethbridge College was the only post-secondary institution to accept the federal government’s invitation to participate in a Canadian trade mission to Russia in June. My goal for the trip was to raise the visibility of the college, our city and our province on the international stage.

I went on the mission to determine if our school could have some role in assisting the Russians in preparing for the Olympics. While they have a huge need for training – 40,000 to 50,000 workers and volunteers will be needed from a city of just 400,000 – in event planning, hospitality and tourism, English and more, the largest area of concern is proving to be environmental.

Hosting the Olympic Games requires significant infrastructure; a well-developed highway system, hotel rooms, airport facilities and more need to be appropriate to welcome international visitors.

Work is beginning with the completion of a new airport slated to open next year, but there is much more to be done in the time remaining. Not that the required alterations can’t be accomplished: even Vancouver needed work, as has almost every site since the Olympics moved from a quiet amateur sporting event to a large-scale festival watched eagerly around the world.

Our college, with its School of Environmental Sciences, has a range of expertise that could be brought to bear on some of the problems already surfacing in Sochi, a sub-tropical area that encompasses several protected nature zones. Our Environmental Assessment and Restoration program, for instance, would likely be able to offer up knowledge on mitigating the Olympic footprint once the games are finished.

Whether we will eventually play a role in Sochi has yet to be determined, but my inclusion in the trade mission served a purpose closer to home: as the only post-secondary institution participating in the trip, Lethbridge College is now known at the federal level. The opportunity for us to secure extended face time with policy makers such as Stockwell Day, Canada’s minister of international trade and minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific gateway, is immeasurable.

Lethbridge College, with elements such as its wind turbine technician program, the Cousins Science Centre and the expertise of its faculty, is gaining stature as a go-to institution.

We continue to be the college that can.

Dr. Tracy L. Edwards

Lethbridge College President & CEO

Wider Horizons
Dr. Tracy L. Edwards Lethbridge College President & CEO
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