I forget occasionally that not everyone who reads this lives in Vancouver. So let me touch on something that has been painfully obvious for quite some time now to those of us who DO.
10 days from now, on February 12th, the 2010 Winter Olympics officially open in Vancouver. Those of us who live in Vancouver are filled with a sense of utter DREAD.
The problems are wide ranging. This article at the Guardian (credit to Sarah) sums up the problems pretty succinctly. First and foremost, these are the huge cost overruns, particularly in terms of security and Olympic housing. This is especially embittering in the middle of a global economic slowdown, in a city where we can't seem to throw down some cash to solve our terrible, out-of-control homelessness, poverty, and drug-use problems.
Next up is the faint concern that our beautiful city that we love so dearly will be the target of a terrorist attack. Though with fighter jets overhead and US Homeland Security crawling all over us, I feel somewhat safer, even if the effect is merely illusory.
Perhaps the largest concern is that those of us who live in Vancouver and work in the downtown core have no idea how we'll be able to go about our day to day lives during the games. There are an enormous number of road closures to start. Many major roads will have a restricted "Olympic lane" open only to public transit and official olympic vehicles. The suggested countermeasures by VANOC and TransLink have been utterly asinine.
Take Transit: Hey, great idea! Oh wait, isn't transit in Vancouver already packed to the brim? How are we going to fit more people on already stressed system?
Cycle: This almost seems like a deliberate insult to our intelligence. Ignoring for a moment the number of people who live outside Vancouver proper, cycling to work in February during a time when VANOC has assumed it will be cold enough for snow, doesn't seem very practical for most people. As for those who live outside Vancouver but near a Skytrain station, Translink has prohibited the transport of bicycles on Skytrain during the Olympics.
Walk: Oh brother. People who are walking to work are probably already doing so. Those who aren't are probably too far away.
Conservative estimates say that Vancouver's population will double, perhaps triple, during the games. Athletes, their coaches, families, support staff. Security personnel, including RCMP, military, and homeland security. Media personnel and their crews. Tourists. Visitors. Yesterday, my mother asked if I would be attending an interesting VSO concert that is taking place during the Olympics. My response: not in your life; I'll be avoiding downtown like the plague.
We'll be glad when its all over, preferably without incident.
Posted on February 2, 2010 09:29 AM