For the host city of an Olympic Games, preparing for the two-week party is a drawn-out affair involving years of planning, debating and spending.

But it’s equally important for that city to be left in better shape than it was before the event, and to continue to benefit long after the last athlete returns home, says Ann Duffy, chief sustainability officer with VANOC.

“The legacies are a catalyst for development for the region,” Duffy said. “We plan the Games with the legacies in mind. We design the venues to be multi-purpose and look at the long-term use of the facility.”

The Richmond Oval, for example, which was built with pine beetle wood, will be a sprawling community centre after the Games, while the upgraded Thunderbird Arena will be used for concerts when the ice isn’t in use.

Commuters will be left with a new rapid transit line connecting Richmond to Vancouver and a wider, safer Sea-to-Sky Highway.

The Games will also have provided new opportunities for the aboriginal community, said Tewanee Joseph, CEO of Four Host First Nations.

Sales from the 2010 Aboriginal Licensing and Merchandising Program will go toward an aboriginal youth fund, which supports sport and scholarship programs.

Joseph added that new business ventures have brought $53 million into the First Nation business community and helped youth acquire job skills.

“When it comes to our young people, our elders always say, ‘look ahead,’” he said.