H. Bjorn Hareid
Born: November 27, 1924 (Norway)
Died: April 18, 2014 (West Vancouver, British Columbia)
Bjorn Hareid, a Vancouver lawyer, was one of the key players in what at the time was a far-fetched scheme to bring the Winter Olympics to an unincorporated British Columbia hamlet named Alta Lake. The plan failed, but led eventually to Whistler being part of the successful 2010 Games held in conjunction with Vancouver.
In 1968, Hareid and others lobbied members of the International Olympic Committee at Mexico City. One of five of a rotating squad 14 delegates assigned to promote the site, Hareid was joined in the Mexican capital by a hotelier, an advertising man, another lawyer and the architect Geoff Massey. They had with them a four-foot-by-eight-foot model of Whistler Mountain, which had opened just two years earlier.
The Garibaldi Olympic Development Association planned a $130 million Games financed by three levels of government. A centrepiece was to be a 10,000-seat arena containing three ice sheets.
The Mexico City foray was part of an extensive lobbying effort designed to win the rights to the 1976 Winter Olympics. In the end, the Winter Games were awarded to Denver (and later moved to Innsbruck, Austria), while Montréal trumped the Winter Games bid by winning the right to hold the Summer Games.
“We’d been all over the world, lobbying to bring the Games here,” Hareid told the Whistler Pique in 2004. “And there we were in Amsterdam when they made the announcement that Montreal had been awarded the Summer Games. The Summer Games were announced first. So once that was announced we knew it was up. But I’m happy now that we didn’t get the 1976 Games because Whistler would never have developed this way. It’s now been developed perfectly.”
Born in Norway, Hareid immigrated to Canada in 1951 after studying law in Tuebingen, Germany. He graduated from the University of B.C. law school in 1955. He eventually became a partner in Borden Ladner Gervais. He served as president of the Vancouver Opera Association and the Arts Club Theatre. He also served on the board of the Vancouver Art Gallery. From 1988 to 2001, he was honourary Norwegian counsel general for Alberta and British Columbia.