Monday, October 26, 2009

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics - Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Copyright Vanoc/Covan

Winter Olympics: Stay or Go?

I'm torn about whether to leave town or hang around. What are you doing?

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

By Bill Tieleman

"Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble.
An' if I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know!"

- The Clash

Should I stay -- in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games -- or should I go -- and get the heck out of town?

I'm pondering that question right now, like thousands of other people in Metro Vancouver.

Will the Olympics be an outrageously expensive, insider-only, corporate celebration of advertising where civil rights are quashed and ordinary people's lives disrupted by traffic snarled just so big shots can speed around the city?

Or will the Olympics be Vancouver's finest moment, with the world coming together in peace to witness amazing athletic feats, sports drama, international arts, ending with a tremendous boost to our economy?

I really don't know.

I still support the Olympics, having voted "yes" in Vancouver's February 2003 referendum. Even if only for the job creation, economic development and international profile, they are well worthwhile.

But stay or go? Here are the arguments:


This is likely the only chance in our lifetimes to experience a Winter Olympic Games at home -- a unique opportunity.

It will be a global party like no other. The city will be buzzing with international guests, celebrities and media attention.

Since we're paying for the Olympics, massive overruns and all, we might as well get our money's worth.


The Olympics are a huge advertising event where sports take a back seat to pushing the products of corporate sponsors paying millions for that right.

Rules to protect Olympic sponsors are so draconian that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is taking Vancouver to court, alleging its bylaws violate the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Ticket prices lean towards outrageous -- $1,100 each for the best seat in B.C. Place for the opening ceremonies, $775 for the closing and men's ice hockey finals, and $525 for ice dance gala. There are modestly-priced tickets down to $25 but for cheap seats for cross-country skiing or biathlon.

But hey, don't worry about the prices. You can't get most tickets anyway! Popular events are long sold out, and for many events 70 per cent of the seats go to corporate sponsors, Olympic "family," politicians and big wigs.

Of course, legal scalpers are standing by to help -- with those $1,100 tickets now going for up to $6,000 each!

Gold medal traffic gridlock. Vancouver will be hell off wheels as security concerns and games transport demands mean street closures and elimination of parking.

Dedicated Olympic-only lanes will ban local drivers on large sections of major streets like Broadway, Burrard, Cambie, Georgia and Hastings from Feb. 4 to March 1 -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Help me out here.

So what to do? Go to Mexico for two weeks? Even Bellingham?

Or party up with the world and enjoy all the attention while splurging for a few events or just drinking with an international crowd at the live sites?

I can't decide without your help -- check my website poll on whether Vancouverites should stay or go at the top right of this page and also vote at the 24 hours newspaper poll on Tuesday October 27.



Anonymous said...

I felt comfortable wanting to go until I spoke to a friend of mine that said she was going to "observe" as it is a unique moment in her life to live in a city where the Olympics were taking place. She's not a fan nor a protester just curious.

It made me feel even flakier for going south for 16 days...

But there is no way I want any part of this debacle - once in a life time or not.

A Fan

mdeals said...

Lovely bog...and in opinion you should be stay...

Vancouver BC realtor said...

I am definitely staying! It's a one in a lifetime chance to see this happening in your city and you're gonna miss it? No way, I know it will mean a lot of problems but I think for few weeks I can live through it. Plus you don't have to buy tickets for the most expansive events. Like the finals or the opening ceremony. of course those will be outrageously expansive. I plan to go to all Canada's hockey games, can't miss that :)

Take care, Jay

DPL said...

My humble opinion which is never that humble, says to hell with it. Mind you we live in the town of Victoria so with any kind of luck we can do what we did in Expo, when we did live and work in Vancouver. We ignored it.
The local cop guy told us yesterday that every cop in the region was working , many of course on overtime, just to "protect" the "TORCH" through town.My God, they use a new one every few feet. It will pass by our place on the first day and our family will not be on the side of the road. What was supposed to be a sport event ended up causing a lot of programs to be cut as Gordo wants his face in the news.Some of our family live and work in Vancouver and are not overly impressed that they cant get to work. One was required toi get some cop check up becuase he works in a city building. The other will basically lose a few weeks wages as he is slef employed woring on big boats in False Creek. Its a no go zone.The whole even has been over blown

SharingIsGood said...

Bill, I say go downtown and be the eyes and ears that the MSM will not be using. Interview people on the street. Appraise the value of the big party that all the people of BC (and Canada) pay for so that Vancouver and Whistler play host.

Please let us know if it is party worthy of maintaining high child poverty and cuts to education, health and mental health services. If it is more hype than substance, please let us know. Is it worth the deficit spending? Do we get good bang for our buck? I won't be attending for I live beyond Hope; I have disdain for the traffic and the "crush" of big cities - even without the Olympics. You voted for it, you should attend.

Anonymous said...

Excellent column idea!
If you stay,at least you can watch on TV. Maybe not somewhere else.
Hard choice.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to leave town but I figure I better stay in case I need to post bail for my adult kids in case they get into troubling by engaging in anti-Olympic propaganda.

Norm Farrell said...

Posting bail? Not likely to be needed by my kids but maybe I should tell them not to leave town in case the old man needs them.

Rider said...

If you run away, how can you comment?
Stay. Pay attention.

BC Mary said...



It's the perfect time of year to visit Australia. The trade winds are blowing at the end of their summer ... and in 2010

the sports-mad Aussies will be watching The Games almost as if sports mattered. And not the real estate developments.

Lotsa happy people, lotsa good fruit to eat and beer to drink ... heck, the Qantas flights will be going home empty just when you need cheap tickets both ways.

So my vote: Go to Australia!

RossK said...

You know - Norman has makes a heckuva point.


Anonymous said...

Forget it. I'm getting the hell out of here. For those two weeks of madness, I'm going to Cuba.

Anonymous said...

We live on the island and haven't been on a ferry for 15 years. We will watch the curling on tv and nothing else .It's would be boring watching someone that can't get a job running up and down hills.Yuk.
We'll be staying but not watching.

SeaToSky said...

I live on the Sea to Sky highway and am not sure I will have the option to leave if I wait too info yet on resident access. That aside, I lived in Calgary for the 1988 Olympics. Totally different. Yes, there were snipers on the top of buildings at the U of C (the Olympic Village was there) but it was predominantly a happy, positive event. I remember going down to Olympic Plaza (outside, in downtown Calgary) to watch medal ceremonies and the amazing laser light show in a huge crush of Calgarians. These Olympics feel different. I am not looking forward to them.

Otis Krayola said...

Let's see now....

My two siblings and I inherited a house ON the beach in Mexico about a hundred miles south of San Diego.

And I live less than two blocks from one of the main venues in Vancouver.

Tough choice. Um....ahhh...

I.P. Freely said...

I stayed away during the entire Expo '86, and consider this one of the great To-Stay/To-Go triumphs of my entire life.

I think it will be important to have people on the front lines, sticking up for the poor, and defending Charter rights to protest, but I'm selfishly happy to report that I will not be one of them.

I've got my winter holiday already booked. I will be hiking one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, followed by a swing through Asia, and I don't plan to read a single Canadian news source during this time. I'm trying to stretch my holiday long enough so I miss much of the post-Games hangover.

Anonymous said...

In the mid-80s, I was invited to a tacky tourist party at a friend's house, where I wore the official Expo 86 t-shirt, hat, umbrella and other souvenirs.

Unfortunately, it was six month's prior to the world's fair, and hardly anyone got the joke, except for the host of the party, who chuckled politely.

That host was you, Bill.

I'd say it's time for a tacky Olympic tourist party!

Bill Tieleman said...

Yikes Anonymous 8:52 a.m. - you have me at a loss to remember that party! Sounds fun but I was in Toronto from late 1983 to late 1989 so I'm wondering if I had a doppelganger masquerading as me in Vancouver in the mid-1980s.

And for the record, I never attended Expo 86 as I was living in Toronto then.

M7 said...

I think that anyone who wants to be here to enjoy a once in a lifetime celebration should stay and anyone who just wants to complain about everything involved with the Olympics should go. That way the Olympics wouldn't be tainted by those who have no spirit. We are aware it will be inconvenient in some ways, but it's a small price to pay for this honour.

DPL said...

Someone says." An Honour". Some honour to shell out huge amounts of our money. The latest being a untenderd contract to feed some of the "right people" at the Union Club. Just half a million bucks. Good for business says the gang, but not so good for the rest of us. My gosh the Gordo crowd are flush with our money as they sell operating room time to Saskatchewan. BC is becoming the squirrle cage of Canada

fringedweller said...

You voted "Yes" if only for the job creation, economic development, and now wonder if you should go to Mexico or even Belllingham? Ha. Spend your vacation dollars in Beautiful rural B.C.

fringedweller said...

P.S.: The main reason I hope you spend your vacation money somewhere in B.C.: Because like the majority of Vancouverites who're never gonna get to actually GO to the games, WE'RE gonna be paying those Oly bills right along with ya...for the next, oh, say, 20 - 30 years or so.

Unknown said...

You say you voted for it?? Well - then you should put up with it! I agree with the suggestion that you plunk yourself right in the middle and report on whether it's worth the costs.
As I won't be able to afford any of it anyway - I thought of asking Herr Campbell to provide free tickets to everyone on the govt disability pensions - I'd really love to go watch the skating from a safe distance. Anyone know of a free place to hide.

Anonymous said...

I wanna be ...leaving on a jet plane ...preferably somewhere very, very warm. Away from Olympic excess and the looming HST.

Anonymous said...

Stay definitely-it will never happen again in our lifetime; the cup will always be half full, never half empty !

Henri Paul said...

Well particularly, if one is in the news gathering, reporting business, it should be of no question as what to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving town, but only because a million dollars of my monies was used to buy tickets to the games without having gone through the lottery process. Or did the BC Liberal government go through the process and that's why there were so few tickets available to the general public?

mls gta said...

Well I'm actually thinking of visiting my family in Vancouver during the Olympics - I just want to see the show :-) I definitely want to see the opening ceremonial, and as most of my family members are dedicated hockey fans, I won't be missing them either...