Chris Tyrell, who lives in the heart of downtown Vancouver, is watching the Winter Olympic preparations with growing excitement. The event starts less than a week from now, and it’s spring in Vancouver, the warmest winter on record; the croci are out, Chris reports. This is what he said about the city after his walk yesterday. It was 13 degrees outside.
I walked over the Cambie Bridge and could easily see into the Athletes Village. The Olympic Village has identifying flags and HUGE banners indicating where different national teams are staying. People all over downtown are wearing access badges. There are bizillions of people downtown, and there are teams all over. All the people are in their national colours.
I did not realize that part of the Olympics is pavilions just like at a world’s fair. There are international and provincial pavilions. Also, there are national recreation centres; there are temporary buildings and huge tents on every empty lot downtown and many, many parking lots. Every single bus and billboard is used by an Olympic sponsor. There are Olympic busses everywhere. At night, the sky is FULL FULL FULL of dancing lights; in some places, walls of water are used for projections. There are projections everywhere.There is a zip line downtown over Robson Square. There are concerts everywhere—free ones I mean. The pedestrian zones get set up starting at midnight tonight. That is going to bring more changes; Robson and Granville Streets and all streets around the two downtown stadia, are closing.
It is all rather exciting to me, regardless of all the naysaying.
I like to tease that Toronto is the centre of the universe and Vancouver a pretty but flaky bauble way, way off to the side, but not these days. By the way, I’ll ask Chris what a zip line is, and report back.
The “if only” department: There was a by-election in my neighbourhood yesterday, to replace George Smitherman who is running for mayor. My riding is one of the most diverse in the world, encompassing the housing project Regent Park, the new immigrant high-rises of St. Jamestown, the vast wealth of Rosedale and the gay ghetto around Church St., not to mention my own little Victorian enclave. For us, homelessness and hunger are a community issue; for the Rosedalians, the fact that garbagemen don’t put the bins back tidily after emptying them.
The Libs parachuted in Glen Murray, former mayor of Winnipeg. He’s good-looking, openly gay, 100% a political animal. Cathy Crowe, his NDP opponent, is a passionate local icon and hero, a savvy street nurse who has worked with the disadvantaged for many years. I’m sorry to say that Murray won 47% of the vote, Crowe 33%. Still, for a first try in the political maelstrom, 33% is a fantastic showing. The Conservative, let’s not even mention her name, got 15%.
Murray will not be bad. But Cathy Crowe would have shaken up the whole building, the process, the province.
P.S. This just in from Chris:
Two major bridges close today. The rain is back. A zip line is a suspended wire that links two downtown locations. You attach yourself to with a harness into which you are strapped, to slide down it over a part of the city. It is a thrill ride like bungee jumping.