This link is appearing everywhere online, and has been sent to me by a number of readers. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jan/31/vancouver-winter-olympics-police
An interesting commentary, it at first appears to be an overseas Op-Ed, but on further examination the author turns out to be a local freelancer, who was in fact interviewed by CBC yesterday! ( thank you C.!) ** note how many links it has from local sources documenting the harsh financial realities of our fair province, an amalgamation of why so many people are feeling more concern than excitement. Although the author tends to- as one reader put it- hyperbole, I still think it presents a fairly accurate representation of how many people are feeling in these days before our world debut. ( someone might do well to stick this right on top of Bill Good’s desk – I hear many are getting tired of his incessant nattering over the lack of enthusiasm over the games. Reality check Bill- we don’t all live in fancy condo’s on the harbour and have two jobs to count on, let alone one for the many laid off and out of work people all over the province )
It’s now two weeks until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic games, a city-defining event that is a decade in the making. But a decade is a very long time. Much of what seemed sensible in the early 2000s has proven to be the opposite: for instance, allowing investment bankers to pursue profits willy-nilly was acceptable when Vancouver won the bid in 2003, but is now viewed as idiotic. So it comes as no surprise that just days before the opening ceremony, Vancouver is gripped by dread. Not the typical attitude for a host city, but understandable when you consider that everything that could go wrong, is in the process of going wrong.
“The Bailout Games” have already been labelled a staggering financial disaster. While the complete costs are still unknown, the Vancouver and British Columbian governments have hinted at what’s to come by cancelling 2400 surgeries, laying off 233 government employees, 800 teachers and recommending the closure of 14 schools. It might be enough to make one cynical, but luckily every inch of the city is now coated with advertisements that feature smiley people enjoying the products of the event’s gracious sponsors.
Conservative estimates now speculate that the games will cost upwards of $6bn, with little chance of a return. This titanic act of fiscal malfeasance includes a security force that was originally budgeted at $175m, but has since inflated to $900m. With more than 15,000 members, it’s the largest military presence seen in western Canada since the end of the second world war, an appropriate measure only if one imagines al-Qaida are set to descend from the slopes on C2-strapped snowboards. With a police officer on every corner and military helicopters buzzing overhead, Vancouver looks more like post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland. Whole sections of the city are off-limits, scores of roads have been shut down, small businesses have been told to close shop and citizens have been instructed to either leave the city or stay indoors to make way for the projected influx of 300,000 visitors.
While most of the local media are pushing the feel good, rah- rah, “it’s all good” mantra, we are begining to see the international media descend in droves and are looking for other stories about the impact of the Olympics from residents and freelancers alike. Keep your eyes peeled…