Homeless in Vancouver: Man in Motion statue gets a new place in the sun

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      A large statue of wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen has found a new and better home on the grounds of Vancouver General Hospital.

      After a year and then some spent behind barricades in a parking lot on the west side of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, the statue has been relocated to the green space of the 700 block of West 10th Avenue, on the east side of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in front of the Heather Annex Pavilion.

      A posting on the ICORD Facebook account explains that the statue of Hansen was relocated on Tuesday (April 7) by 7:30 a.m.

      Nice to see your back, Mr. Hansen

      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      When I first saw the statue in February 2014, it was sitting in the Blusson Centre’s parking lot. It had been displaced from its original home of 17 years in downtown Vancouver on the grounds of Rogers Arena, in order to make way for condo development by the arena’s owner, real-estate developer Francesco Aquilini.

      Just another long-time Vancouver resident kicked to the curb by rampant condo development (cue violins).

      The larger-than-life granite statue of Rick Hansen was created by sculptor William (Bill) Koochin, who sought to capture the man as he looked during the eight hours and 50 to 70 kilometres he wheeled each day of his legendary two year Man in Motion World Tour (1985-1987).

      Beginning in 1997 (the 10th anniversary of the tour), the statue was located at 800 Griffiths Way, outside of GM Place (now Rogers Arena).

      To help people better understand the significance of the statue, it was accompanied by a large ceramic wall mural created by Blake Williams and made up of photographs from Hansen’s 792-day fundraising journey around the world to raise money and awareness for spinal cord injury research.

      How I will always remember Rick Hansen

      The new placement of the statue could be ideal. It is set well back from the sidewalk, currently at the end of a temporary path of steel plates, over which the statue was moved.

      Quite possibly the plan is to have the statue sit on a dais of concrete embedded in and surrounded by the field of grass, but I would so much prefer that the current strip covered by steel plates becomes a permanent broad paved path leading straight to the statue. For me, this would complete the statue by evoking the man wheeling towards the viewer along a stretch of highway—which was the simple yet grueling task Hansen so memorably undertook on the Man in Motion World Tour, day after day, for tens of thousands of kilometres.

      Look! Here comes the Man in Motion!
      Stanley Q. Woodvine
      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.




      Apr 9, 2015 at 6:21pm

      Thanks Stanley for the information on Rick, and the misfortune of Aquilini.