The Downtown East Side (DTES) is another story that I am sick of hearing about. I don’t know if anything can be done about it other than to simply bulldoze the whole neighborhood. Some people are
responsible for their problems and there is nothing anybody else can do for them. The argument is similar to the Space Program Versus Poverty debate. We cannot put everything on hold until every single person in the world is well-fed. That will never happen. I don’t think the Olympics should have been turned down from coming to Vancouver; I am just tired of hearing about it ALL THE TIME.
On the positive side:
The Olympics definitely pressured politicians to upgrade the local infrastructure. The rapid rail line to the airport should have been done a long time ago. Same for the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrades and the additional bridges over the Fraser River. Not only did the Olympics spur politicians to take action, money came too. And more will come. Most of these infrastructure improvements would have been done eventually
, but they would probably have been paid fully by local people. With the Olympics, federal money came here, AND a huge injection of tourist dollars will come too, lessening the load on local people.
In addition, the Olympics will shine a big spotlight on the Vancouver area.
On the negative side:
I do not like how things are being managed. The Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee (VANOC) has been quite heavy-handed, and bullying of people. Even to the point of copyrighting a whole slew of words and phrases relating to Vancouver, 2010, or the Olympics. Pretty ridiculous.
I do not agree with the heavy native presence in the Olympics. It might be quaint and appeal to tourists, but it is not a true reflection of BC or Canada. I was born and raised in BC, and the only time I come into contact with native activities is at tourist events. Even the logo sucks; I cannot buy into this. The temporary logo, with the waves and mountains, was much better. I wish Canada would stop promoting this image of us as being simple villagers, fishermen, lumberjacks, etc. Those mascots are pretty ridiculous too. We should be promoting more of our high-tech side.
Everything seems to be getting taken over by the Olympics. There is even a debate ongoing about whether local school boards should re-schedule spring break in 2010 to coincide with the Olympics. Reasons include giving older students an opportunity to volunteer during the games. But I think the more compelling reason is to reduce local traffic during the games. Supposedly, 600,000 school-related trips are made each weekday; by having schools closed during the Olympics, this traffic should be eliminated, leaving more room for Games-related traffic.
Also, I am pretty certain that the big spotlight that the Olympics will shine on Vancouver will reveal more bad than good. Even after all the infrastructure upgrades that have been made, the region is still about twenty years behind where it should be in terms of infrastructure. There are still too many bottlenecks, not enough roads and bridges, poor access to the ports, etc.
And taxes and bureaucracy are way too much. Honestly, if I were a businessman coming into Vancouver for the Olympics and I checked out the business environment around here, I would turn around and spread the word that Vancouver is not
a good place to invest. Perhaps Vancouver is a nice place to visit, spend some tourist dollars, support some minimum-wage workers, but no place to set up a manufacturing plant or research facility. I think that
is the message that will spread around the business world for many years following the Olympics.
Anyhow, that is my two cents.
Now I will go back into my cave, throw another log on the fire, and down a beer, because apparently that is what we Canadians do (duuuuuhhhh...).