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Our cool torch-runners today and tomorrow

February 11th, 2010 · 2 Comments

More than a few torch-bearers in the recent weeks months of the torch run across the country have been people who got their spots through corporate sponsors. Others have been heroes in their communities.

It’s so wonderful to see that some of the people who carried the torch today or will carry it tomorrow are really good people from the community. If there’s anything that makes me feel better about this sometimes overwhelming event, this is it.

Among them:

-Ken Lyotier, the Downtown Eastside resident and one-time alcoholic binner who founded United We Can. That’s the bottle-recycling building on East Hastings that has provided a way for hundreds of people in the Downtown Eastside to make a little money and, in some cases, get full-time jobs. Lyotier, now retired, is a soft-spoken guy who epitomizes humble. But he built the recycling depot into a $2-million business and has time and again been an inspirational and thoughtful spokesman for his neighbourhood and the people in it. He carried the torch to LiveCity Yaletown and lit the cauldron there around 8 p.m.

– Matthew Lee, who has lived at the Portland Hotel for years. I met Matt 10 years ago, when I first started writing about housing. He is one of the sweetest guys in the Downtown Eastside, the kind of person who deserves all the help he gets. I wrote a story about him for a special project I did in 1999, which is here on pages 44-45 of the report. It has just thrilled many people in the Downtown Eastside that Matthew was chosen.

– Rob Wynen. Rob is a huge cycling advocate. Here’s the message he sent out earlier today. Many of you will know that tomorrow is the final leg of the Torch Relay as it makes its way to BC Place Stadium.  I was honoured to be asked by the city to cycle with the torch for a portion of the relay.  One of the goals of the city of Vancouver is to ensure that a green legacy is left from these winter games.  With the unseasonably warm temperatures we are experiencing I hope that by cycling with the torch I can in some small  way play a role in ensuring that our Olympic Winter Games have a future that will last for future generations to enjoy.  Reducing our use of the automobile and increasing sustainable modes of transportation such as cycling will play a big part in dealing with Global Warming.  For many of us who have worked over the past couple of decades to encourage cycling in the city it is an exciting time to promote cycling.  Bicycle usage is slowly increasing and it looks like we will have our first separated bicycle facility in downtown Vancouver in late April.  Hopefully we will see some significant changes in the next couple of years and we as a city can meet the challenges ahead so that young Vancouverites will inherit a beautiful city, one we have been so blessed to live in.
 
If you wish to come out and see the flame, show your support or even cycle with me, it would be great to see you come out.  I will depart with the flame at 10:38am from the corner of Adanac and Rupert, cycling east on the Adanac bike route (the city’s oldest bike route).

Sam Sullivan, Vancouver’s former mayor, will be wheeling along Commercial Drive tomorrow, as many of his supporters have let us know. Love him or not, Sam pushed the boundaries on a lot of agendas important in this city, from drug addiction to housing density. Here’s the info on where he’ll be and when: Sam Sullivan will be carrying the torch on Friday at 9:58 AM, starting at Shopper’s Drug Mart on Commercial and 1st (by Il Mercato) and heading to 1st and Salsbury – 300 metres

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  • Here’s a short video we produced (part of a series of daily videos telling Vancouver’s stories during the Games) about Ken:

    http://www.youtube.com/vancouvercityhall#p/a/u/2/5_HxxGvTq4w

    Ryan Merkley
    Director of Communications
    City of Vancouver

  • Joshaviah

    Add to this list Robert Milton, a Downtown Eastside Resident who has struggled through enormous challenges to get his life on track, and ran with the torch through the Downtown Eastside when it was rerouted because of protesters.

    Unfortunately, since the protesters, led by a group from Ontario, got between Robert and his family, his family was not able to see him run with it. One of the casualties of “solidarity” I guess.