Ivan Doumenc: 2010 Winter Olympics will be Vancouver's demise

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      By Ivan Doumenc

      I recently saw a map of Vancouver’s downtown core showing the restricted zones for the period of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It hit me that, for the duration of the Games, I was going to be under siege in my own neighbourhood. About a dozen streets and 20 city blocks will be closed or severely restricted to the public. A long list of venues, restaurants, shops, and public places will also be closed in order to accommodate a variety of corporate-sponsored private events.

      For all intents and purposes, the neighbourhood I live in will cease to support me during the Olympics. Like some obscure red- or blue-listed species I am about to lose my habitat, because people richer and more powerful than me are flying into town to enjoy endless parties behind highly guarded security gates. Talk about the enclosure of the commons.

      Of course, I could decide to hold my breath for a few weeks and let this idiotic and degenerate storm of a party pass, and simply resume my normal life after that. Problem is, by all measures, there will be no normal life for Vancouverites to return to once the Olympic caravan and its corporate VIP guests have left the city. The Vancouver 2010 legacy will include:

      ”¢ A $6-billion public debt, mostly owed to transnational corporations, which will cripple our children’s well-being for most of their adult tax-paying lives;

      Ӣ A staggering $1-billion security budget paid on our own money to ensure that we, the people, are kept under control both during and after the Olympics;

      Ӣ The enactment of retrograde anti-protest laws, which are in direct violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights;

      Ӣ The destruction of unique ecosystems which were standing in the way of a highway expansion or Olympic facility;

      ”¢ The removal of affordable housing from the city’s core to make room for ill-designed, elitist, and downright useless condoland projects such as the Olympic Village fiasco, which was bailed out in secret by city council with hundreds of millions of our public dollars.

      This massive transfer of public wealth into private hands has an extraordinary cost. In years to come, we will be asked to work harder to pay off an enormous public debt which we have not personally accumulated nor benefited from. As our taxes increase, we will discover that we are no longer working for ourselves, but to finance the extravagant way of life of the world’s hyper-rich.

      Olympics watchdog Chris Shaw, who ran for city council with the Work Less Party in the last civic election, figured this out on day one, while the rest of us were still happily waving our Canadian flags and rooting for Vancouver’s 2010 bid. Recently, he has shown us the way by suing the City of Vancouver, forcing it to back away from its particularly repressive anti-protest bylaw.

      No doubt the Work Less Party, a fiercely anti-Olympic political movement, is likely to have its “I told you” moment in the next few months and see its popularity boosted as a result. But it will be a bittersweet victory at best, since it will coincide with the demise of a city that we love, which held so much promise and had everything going for it, and will instead enter into old age and decay before its time.

      Work defines us as humans, and at the Work Less Party I have met smart people with admirable work ethics. But the value and very purpose of our work has been confiscated from us by people in high places. They have thrown us into the bondage of debt, using schemes such as the Olympics corporate franchise to appropriate both our wealth and our future in the name of sport. It’s time to break free. Yes, I am proud of my work. But business as usual, work as usual is no longer an option. If that’s the deal handed to us by the elite class, then hell yeah, I choose to work less.

      Ivan Doumenc is an environmental and social activist. He ran for the Vancouver park board with the Work Less Party in the 2008 civic election. He blogs at Grass!Struggle.



      ryan s

      Dec 28, 2009 at 5:33pm

      if you dont like it - move


      Dec 28, 2009 at 6:48pm

      "the demise of a city that we love, which held so much promise and had everything going for it, and will instead enter into old age and decay before its time"
      Did you seriously write that and even publish it?
      It is difficult to gain any insight from someone who writes an article riddled with incorrect facts and bias political agenda.
      As usual, you are general and vague in your points.... Just enough to strike fear in the hearts of Vancouver-lovers yet not be accountable for any specifics. It sure is easy to stand on your soapbox and call yourself a "social activist" but unless you are actually doing something, your commentary equals zero.
      The Olympics coming is nothing new. We have known for 7 years. Perhaps you could have spent those 7 years finding a way to make positive legacies or make insightful, well-researched points about the challenges of hosting an Olympics.
      Sorry - no respect for fear mongering Vancouver-haters that like to declare doom at anything that could move our city forward.
      If you choose to work less, perhaps you can use all of your free time to go back to school and learn a thing or two about how people have disagree with the direction of their city YET found a positive way to express it (writing whining doom and gloom blog posts or articles is rarely a method employed by those individuals).
      In the mean time, book a vacation in Feb and when you return, let's see how rapidly Vancouver "decays". I cannot wait until you are proved completely wrong and perhaps you catch a glimpse of yourself and how you are adding nothing to the advancement of Vancouver.... You are simply fear monger who would rather be right than actually help Vancouver evolve.


      Dec 28, 2009 at 7:07pm

      You wrote, "... the rest of us were still happily waving our Canadian flags and rooting for Vancouver’s 2010 bid."

      I thought it would be bad, and was definitely not rooting for the bid. In fact, I wrote letters to the IOC to tell them I didn't want them in Vancouver..... but I didn't think it would come out this bad, and this ridiculous.


      Dec 28, 2009 at 7:55pm

      Someone oughta take VANOC, the IOC and the rest of the "creme de la crap" and move them to Chernoble to see if they can truly revitalize a city with "the Olympic spirit." I hate to see the rich get richer and the koolaid that most lacksadaisical Vancouverites are drinking in will only be the start of our demise as a city that a hidden jewel.


      Dec 28, 2009 at 8:09pm

      Musn't criticize the Owe-lympics; it's all sunshine and daffodils. We should feel privileged to be part of the party to penury. Show us a whiplash smile!


      Dec 28, 2009 at 9:33pm

      Couldn't you have made the slightest effort to be unbiased? I mean quoting parties of your own political party? Please.

      Making no solutions and constantly complaining about events like the Olympics won't change anything, and working less (like your affiliated political party) isn't likely to move Vancouver forward either. I sincerely doubt if you and your WLP friends ran the province and city we'd be making serious gains in economic, environmental or sociological areas.

      And those evil "corporations" sponsoring the games just happen to account for a good portion of people working 40-60 hour days that actually contribute something to the world.

      So offer up a solution, implement it and move on with life. Or work 32 hours a day or less and complain about why everyone else has it better than you. And while you're at it, you might as well disagree with my comment. :)

      John Drake

      Dec 28, 2009 at 10:30pm

      "...appropriate both our wealth and future in the name of sport". It's not sport that's behind this, it's entertainment. Sport is healthy for the many people who play in real communities. Olympic entertainment is the choice of fat (physically or fiscally) slobs.

      tell it like it is ...

      Dec 28, 2009 at 10:31pm

      I don't remember reading anything about the ancient Olympic Games in Greece including winter sports. Stoned out losers snowboarding don't count, and greedy corporate stooges and politicians using Vancouver as their stage for a big corrupt party make me sick! Gordon you are going to look so cool riding your choo-choo from Richmond. You're the man!

      Wally Lush

      Dec 29, 2009 at 6:54am

      Being now from much-maligned Toronto, but a west coast boy at heart, I am reading this blog with interest. We are going to go through a similar situation, on a smaller scale, I think, when our run-up to the soccer shenanigans starts in earnest. Really, truly and hopelessly, all the writers who decry negative comments on the Owe-lympics (I love that!) for doing nothing and saying lots are foolish. There is NOTHING we ordinary folk can do to stop the power money machine that are these events except make your thoughts known. And ignored. Which, by the way, is what democracy is about. The rich and powerful do what they want and the rest of us are ignored.


      Dec 29, 2009 at 7:29am

      It really burns your ass when you're told you're hosting and paying for a party you're not invited to.