Friday, November 14, 2008

2010 Olympic Delusions

The Olympics are coming in 2010. I for one, think it’s going to be a waste of time. Right from the outset, the idea was flawed. You’re going to bring people from around the world to Vancouver for two weeks in February. Ummm…. it constantly rains in February! It’s not a Winter Wonderland. People talk about a real estate spike after the Olympics. What folly. It’s no way to advertise Vancouver to outsiders in February. The black clouds hide the view of the mountains, the sea is a baleful grey. Have fun standing in the rain for two hours waiting for your taxi. (Did I mention we have a gigantic taxi shortage?) Oh boy!

I hate to seem mean spirited about this but they haven’t thought things through.

And of course, there are Vancouver’s social problems. Vancouver’s Professional Protestors ™ never ending outrage continues (here)

"Project Civil City" criminalizes the poor and restricts free movement of citizens through red zoning and ticketing, disrupting the basic survival methods of the most vulnerable, such as street-vending, dumpster diving and pan handling. It attempts even to restrict people from building basic structures over their heads to protect themselves from the elements. For these reasons we see Project Civil City as the hate crime that it is. Project Civil City is not a program to decrease homelessness and end poverty, it is a systematic plan to socially cleanse Vancouver and remove all visibility of the homeless for the 2010 Olympic games.

They are calling it a “hate crime.” I looked into Project Civil City and it’s a “Broken Windows” type program. For example, they want constant street and alleyway cleaning in certain areas littered with needles, garbage, glass and (shudder) human waste. (As the theory goes, if you let an area go derelict, you attract derelict behavior.) One basic proposal is to lock down garbage dumpsters. The dumpster divers root through them in search of deposit cans and bottles. The result is piles garbage strewing the street in the aftermath. It’s not an insane proposal. Most private dumpsters, including the one for my building are fenced off or locked. The building manager gets tired of sweeping up and throwing stuff back in the bin. But this group, The Anti-Poverty Committee, call it a Hate Crime because dumpster-diving is considered a livelihood.

Is it such a bad thing to try to do something? I’ve been here for 12 years and every person running for office and every editorial writer proclaim the solution is more shelters, more social housing. Money is poured in. And the homeless statistics still go up. So they propose more of the same. Round and round it goes. The terrible secret, like Field of Dreams, is that you build it and they will come. Would you rather live on the street in Saskatoon during the winter, or Vancouver where it very rarely goes below freezing? Buying a bus ticket is a lot more attractive if you know you going to be welcomed and taken care of when you get there.

Once again, I probably come off as being mean spirited. It is a tragedy for people. There are addictions and mental illness. Nobody wants to grow up and be a bum on the streets. But something has to be done besides “providing more shelters and social housing.”

The situation is bad. Just a few days ago I was paying at the gas station when the cashier stopped a homeless man from shoplifting. The guy went crazy, screamed profanities, challenged him to a fight outside. Does the guy making minimum wage need that? What about him? I live downtown, I see this kind of thing in shops all the time. I see/hear crystal meth addicts screaming every day. Once I got a memo at work, that warned employees that if you’re using the back entrance to the building in the loading dock, watch out for discarded needles.

It’s not a pretty picture. It won’t be for granny Sorensen visiting from Sweden during the Olympics either. Maybe if it rains enough, she’ll stay in her hotel.


  1. I think you might be wrong, in my opinion will make a spectacular Olympic Games, perhaps is think of everyone who does bad things to say or think of the games this year.