Like most Vancouverites, I have a love/hate relationship with our city. And although I was not an Olympic Booster, I couldn’t help but feel good about how well our city hosted the Games and how well we all behaved during them.
I am not so proud of our conduct leading up to the Games or in the aftermath of them. Civility seemed somewhat lacking, and bully tactics overused in the lead-up. One example of this was the assault by VANOC on one of my neighbourhood restaurants – The Olympia.
Fortunately the petitions, letters of support, and negative media forced VANOC to back off; and spared Olympia Owners the cost and heartache of taking down signs that have been a part of this restaurant’s motif for many years.
Of course you can’t un-ring a bell, and the highhanded and abusive tactics of VANOC are as much a part of our Olympic legacy as the debt which is still being recalculated upwards. While we may never know the full extent of the debt/cost of the Olympics, the broken legacy promises are painfully obvious.
The Olympic Village instead of a being a showcase of progressive development featuring social and affordable housing, looks to me like just another high cost/ high rent district in a city that a recent survey concluded was by far Canada’s least affordable city to live in.
While affordability took another hit in the recent city budget which included another round of tax shifting from businesses to residents, city services were also hit. This will of course impact the quality of life in our city and our livability ranking, which was once among the highest in the world.
All of the foregoing notwithstanding, we still live in a great place, and I for one am not planning on moving. Instead I will be monitoring our civic governments. I will also join with others who propose and support progressive initiatives (like a livable wage policy), advocate positive alternatives to service cuts, and oppose greed driven, pro-development zoning applications and planning policies.
I believe that since a more sustainable, livable and affordable Vancouver is conceivable, it is achievable. Some good places to start are: http://vancouver.ca , http://www.thinkcity.ca , http://www.cope.bc.ca