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Kimberly Manky

Kimberly Manky
December 31
I enjoy eating, drinking, spotting rare birds, and dreaming big dreams. I recently decided that the only thing stopping me from being an "actual writer" is actually writing. Here goes nothing. Thank you for taking the time to read my online comedic musings. You are a wonderful human being, never forget that.


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FEBRUARY 1, 2010 1:16PM

Vancouver's Olympics (the World is Watching)

Rate: 14 Flag


The Olympics are coming to Vancouver this month and the city watches and waits for the damage that is about to be inflicted upon us.

The road closures began last Friday in preparation for the games, a full two weeks before the games commence February 12. The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are now marked with the Olympic symbol and are now “24-hour Olympic lanes” as part of the official Olympic route network. They call this annoyance the “Travel Smart 2010 Challenge”, as though it’s meant to be fun to turn two weeks of chaos into four.

The city is telling its residents (that’s me) to expect rush hour conditions 24 hours a day during the Olympic games. They are encouraging everyone to use our already overwhelmed public transport system to get around our fair city.

But Vancouverites know that the road closures and chaos are the least of this city’s worries. Most residents are concerned about the legacy of the 2010 Olympics. The legacy of Montreal’s 1976 Summer Olympics was that of a financial disaster. It took the city 30 years to pay off the 1.6 billion dollar debt that was incurred from hosting the games.

Vancouver is likely to follow suit with it’s own regrettable socioeconomic legacy. Along with the monumental, runaway construction costs for the Olympic venues, comes the destruction of British Columbia’s natural environments in order to build the Olympic infrastructure. And the bill for Vancouver’s taxpayers is estimated at nearly 600 million dollars, though the actual bill may never be made public.

Vancouver’s staggering homeless population will certainly not benefit from hosting the Olympics, as Vancouver’s initial plan for turning the Athletes Village into sustainable, affordable housing was scrapped and the land was sold to a private developer. 

Many Vancouverites are also wondering if British Columbia’s desire to present itself as perfection (its motto being: “The Best Place on Earth”), will mean its “problems”: homelessness and prostitution will be hidden from sight. Vancouver’s East side residents were quietly shipped off to the suburbs when Vancouver hosted the world’s fair in 1986.

The Olympics may ruin this city, and for what? Two weeks of events that depend less on skill and precision, and more on gravity. Sporting events such as Bobsleigh, which is described as two or four racers pushing off for 50 metres and then jumping into the sleigh; and Skeleton, where the “athlete” runs alongside a sled for 50 metres and then dives face first on to sled. Men’s and ladies Luge seems to be the least challenging, as “racers” begin the “race” sitting in their sled and lie down for the duration. Again I say: 600 million dollars.

We are told to be proud to host this year’s winter Olympics. The city even passed a by-law (now being challenged) that restricts signs and banners of protest to certain areas of the city during the Olympic games (not your lawn, for instance). We’re told to show our civic and national pride while welcoming the world to Vancouver. We’re told to don red mittens (that are made in China, not Canada) and shake hands with the tourists. After all, The World is Watching.  

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I am going to watch the torch being carried tonight in Prince Rupert. Should be interesting. Thanks for the insightful article.
I could say volumes more about the impact of the Olympics on not just Vancouver but the entire province. Billions have been spent for this party for the rich while social programs, the arts, education and health budgets have been cut to the bone. And to add insult to injury, the neo-Fascists in charge have the nerve to assume that anybody who isn't waving a flag is somehow suspect. They just don't get that most of us can't afford to take two weeks off to "celebrate" an event that is out of the price range of the vast majority of working people who will end up paying for it. I am forced to take a two-week UNPAID leave since the school I teach at part time is closing down. Oh, and did I mention that BC has the lowest minimum wage in the country, lower even than the Maritime provinces? This is the kind of fiscal "planning" that occurs when right-wing idiots and the people who vote for them are in charge.
I live just across the way in Bellingham, Washington. I don't know how this is going to affect us. I think the cabins around the lake will be full of folks from BC taking a break from the hullabaloo.
thank you for posting a piece that isn't as blindly optimistic as everything else i have read in regards to the oylmpics. i am based out of the maritimes, and am openly against the olympics for a variety of reasons, mostly the treatment of vancouver's homeless and poor population, a population i am part of on a national level, but also because the games simply are not about games anymore. they are about coperate sponsorship and advertisement. i have been told this makes uncanadian, and ungrateful to be a north american. i am astounded how being someone speaking out against a week long party that benefits very very few at the expense of many makes me unpatriotic. i rather thought the opposite.

the games will NOT benefit vancouver, british columbia, or our country, they will do the opposite. the olympics, each and every year, consistently leave the city in which they are held in some sort of debt or at the most, breaking even. the bylaws and regulations passed in britsih columbia and vancouver right now, included the banning of anti-olympic slogans and 'free speech zones', border on orewellian. oh, canada.
My kids always want to know when we will have the winter olympics in Oregon. I hope never. I've heard this about nearly every Olympic venue city.

And the mittens are made in China? What were they thinking?
I should also mention that this will be disastrous for the majority of businesses in the Lower Mainland. I was in the city centre twice last weekend and normally busy streets were sparsely populated. A popular nightclub was less than half full on a Friday night. People are staying from downtown because of the road closures and price hikes. And Mother Nature is having the last laugh -- Vancouver booked the Olympics knowing it was an El Nino year. Hence, no snow and warm temperatures. Gotta love it.
That should read: staying away
I live in Atlanta, and your fears are justified, but let me give you one tiny glimmer: During the games themselves, Atlanta traffic was pretty much nonexistent. We were all prepared to sit in "24-hour rush hours," but instead, traffic was a breeze, as everyone either carpooled, took public transportation, or left town. Seriously.

The main "economic impact" of the Olympics here seemed to be that rents skyrocketed immediately post-Olympics. But that may have just been the upswing of the housing boom.

We had that "it'll be public housing, no never mind, sold to the highest bidder" thing here, too. Part of the athlete's village also became a local university's dormitories.
And the Olympic mascots look far more Asian than anything native to Canada or BC. There is a strong Asian influence here so nothing intrinsically wrong with that except that maybe one of them could look as though it's indigenous?

Oh, and there will be more Draconian budget cuts after the Olympics to pay for the party. The premier is already poised to resign.
My sentiments exactly. It's going to be especially trying for moms...

YOU may be excited about paying for this on the backs of BC's poor and middle class and future generations, I am not. There isn't a lot of joie de vivre being felt in most quarters of cash-strapped BC at the moment, which by the way is MOST of the province, including the Lower Mainland. And this from a government that promised accountability. To whom, I wonder, because it sure isn't the ordinary citizens of this province/country. $1 billion for security? Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free tickets for city politicians in the midst of city layoffs and more to come? I live on the North Shore and I've heard nothing but "green" helicopters flying overhead for days and see navy ships in the inlet.

Bread, not circuses.
I wonder if right wing idiocy is a viral or bacterial infection that you folks caught from us.
I'm sorry. I thought Canadians had their right wingers under control.
Ours are a big problem. As you can see, our right wing has taken over a major political party - they even managed to get W elected twice and what a debacle that was. They have a good stranglehold on our media (not just Fox) so we get plenty of right wing agitprop.
You are right to dread the Olympics. I've lived through one (in a city remaining anonymous), and I witnessed a range of sad events from which the city never recovered. Better luck to you all.
Congratulate you with getting host! I love Olympic Games.Get essay about them from professional essay writers
I lived in Montreal during the Olympics there and it seems that people just don't learn from history. They get caught up in the momentary euphoria and fail to realize that they've been sold a bill of goods by people who profit handsomely from the Olympics, but don't pay one dime for it.
During my six years in Sydney, well ... the rowing venue was used by local schools. Ditto the swimming palace. And the bell frog habitat was beautiful. But I kept trying to think of some kind of conceptual art show or project that could be held on the sloping floors of that darned velodrome. And lots of the Olympic precinct is still just open and empty with an eerie feeling. The actual Sydneysiders who spoke to me about it were as concerned about the expense as folks from other cities.

I very much enjoyed a 2000ish ABC (Australian Broadcasting) comedy/satire about the bid and the construction phase, called "The Games". Terrific acting & humor. Actually, let's get through Vancouver (thank you Vancouver) and then I'll recommend it again...
"This is the kind of fiscal "planning" that occurs when right-wing idiots and the people who vote for them are in charge."

President Obama is anything but a "right-wing" idiot. He is a left-wing idiot who spent a lot of money trying to get the games to Chicago. I'm so glad they went someplace else. I don't live there, but I go through a lot.
I know in Beijing, they leveled a lot of the small traditional courtyard homes in order to widen streets and build venues. I like the spirit of the Olympics, but i hate the reality of them.
The Olympics may ruin this city, and for what? Two weeks of events that depend less on skill and precision, and more on gravity.

You make excellent points about the negative consequences and the costs of the Olympics, but the snarky disparagement of the events and the athleticism of the competitors seems unfair.
Perhaps slagging certain Olympic events was the wrong angle, but I do find it hard to believe that luge, bobsleigh, skeleton, and curling are actual winter Olympic sports- yet ping-pong and shuffleboard haven't made it on the summer Olympic roster.

I recently went curling for the first time and had one of my stones land right on the "button" (actual curling term). I thought to myself, "I could still make the Olympic team."
the olympics has become an industry unto itself. the engineering of both humans and equipment have moved the olympics far from true athleticism. the games now exist really only as something to show between commercials and promos.

it's about money. billions in ads, rights, endorsements, tv time...it's a big business machine, and it's steamrolling to and over vancouver this time around...

i hope you don't get squished too hard...
I can still recall the 1936 Olympics. Those flags blowing in the wind...tea with Leni, and friends...ah. What memories. I apologize. I am too involved to go on.... (HurumphHurumph) Amen.
Wow - interesting look on the inside.
"You make excellent points about the negative consequences and the costs of the Olympics, but the snarky disparagement of the events and the athleticism of the competitors seems unfair."

I totally agree with this statement, DonOntario. I was completely offended by Kimberly's vicious slag of a post. So of course I dismissed her "concerns" as groundless. Thank you, OS bloggers and commentators, for voicing genuine apprehension and expressing yourselves clearly without relying on digs and potshots to validate your arguments. You've all given me something to think about...