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Welfare line-ups, tent cities seen as risks at Games time

February 2nd, 2010 · 13 Comments

I discovered this morning, after my story on the housing ministry’s risk-management plan for the Olympics appeared in the Globe, that Sean Holman of was actually the original source of the documents that wound their way to me. So credit should go to Sean for doing the freedom-of-information request on this one.

On to the story, the five-page list of potential housing/homelessness issues that could be a problem during the Games seems fairly predictable: worries that there will not be enough shelter space, worries that there will be evictions of welfare clients and no places for them to go, and so on. The two issues that the risk planners were worried would generate negative publicity were the tent cities and the line-ups.

Interestingly, one thing that they didn’t seem to be concerned about was a headline saying “BC government fails to meet housing commitment promised in bid book.” Instead, it’s the physical scenes — not the likelihood that some German or French reporter will go digging through old documents — that generate all the concern. But given the way advocates are hammering the housing issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if that point starts to come up.

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  • david hadaway

    So the possiblity of this problem occured to the government ‘months’ ago? Incredible.

    Predictably they consider every way of dealing with it except the only one that counts – a permanent solution.

    On a positive note, at least with this level of ineptitude among our leaders we can discount conspiracy theories. As the Brits say, “They couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery!’

  • Bill Lee

    Already Thomas Roth of German TV (Moscow correspondent, chief of Berlin bureau, now New York cheif) was interviewed and said that he was suprised that they didn’t deal with the downtown homeless as part of the bid and solve it years ago.

    And already the daily poll on what sport is missing, has Women’s Ski Jumping in the lead.

    Yes the foreign press sees our social gaps.

  • For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Province has not replaced ‘welfare Wednesday’ with a more thoughtful plan. Everyone I have spoken to acknowledges it causes significant problems in the community.

    What we need is some lateral thinking. Just as we were able to modify the vehicle licensing system so that we didn’t have to line up to buy new plates every year, (hey, why don’t we just sell little stickers throughout the year and allow people to keep their plates?) I would like to think that a better solution to the dispensing of welfare can be found.

    Ideally it would be dispensed for some people on their jobsites…but that’s another story.

  • Glissando Remmy

    TEN, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…The Olympic Countdown Thought of the Day

    “I’m thinking, when a Government cannot build affordable housing, offer free education, clean water, safe transportation or universal medical care for its citizens anymore…subsidized spying becomes naturally, the norm. The Simpsonesque “D’oh!” gets to be the only onomatopoeic argument between the old versus the new common sense. Democracy is simply morphing into gross Dictatorship”

    More than 1,000 eyes in the sky, spying on Vancouverites, starting yesterday February 1st, 2010, full time, courtesy of our Olympic Games organizers and of course, who else, our broke Government. Wow!

    Good news for the BC Film Industry though! They are getting a break after all. With so many cameras around now and with no extra costs associated with the use of them, they must be writing scripts like bonking rabbits. I say, bring the action on the streets of Vancouver, direct your actors, do your thing and then get a copy of your newly shot movie in 3D right from the Olympic Command Centre; close ups, wide shots, or eagle`s POV! Who knows, maybe you`ll turn out an Avatar!

    And then, there were nine…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    Meanwhile, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators awoke today February 2nd, 2010 and said “I definitely see a shadow, six more weeks of winter it will be…but not in Vancouver”.

  • George

    Is it just me? The link to your story in the Globe keeps coming up as an error page from mobile.

  • Frances Bula

    I think I fixed it.

  • jimmy olson

    The Big Tent Known As Canada House will be converted to low-incme housing on Feb 28th. 2010

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    Sitting in the hot pool while my daughter—and my fellow bather’s son—took swimming lessons, the two dads broke into work-related chatter. He works in a jail, and told me matter-of-factly that there would be a sweep of the streets, and a steep rise in the correctional facility’s population in B.C. (i.e. the jails would bloat to change the “feel” of the streets).

    The revealing part of our conversation was the kind of work that a corrections officer really does. Like holding new inmates as they break down completely, sobbing and crying , during their first nights in a facility.

    This Olympic season will serve up a life time’s worth of glimpses of ourselves and our community in the ugly mirror of “things as they really are”. Let’s hope we can turn the focus of the media crucible into a lasting legacy.

  • Bill Lee

    And then there is the much-commented-upon

    “Vancouver’s Olympics head for disaster

    Two weeks before the games and with police officers on every corner, Vancouver is far from an Olympic wonderland by Douglas Haddow ”, Sunday 31 January 2010 15.00 GMT Article history …[“It was last modified at 09.38 GMT on Monday 1 February 2010.” ]
    Comments (202) are now closed.

    —- and from the Sport Illustrated website hosted on

    Posted: Monday January 25, 2010 12:44PM; Updated: Monday January 25, 2010 12:44PM
    Dave Zirin> EDGE OF SPORTS

    As Olympics near, people in Vancouver are dreading Games
    With Olympics way over budget, locals wish they hadn’t voted for the Games. The economy is compounding the problem as the Games will bring in billions less. A poll showed only 50% of B.C. residents thought Olympics would be positive .
    The 2010 Winter Olympics were once thought to bring $10 billion to Vancouver. That projection has been reduced to $1 billion.
    When I arrived in Vancouver, the first thing I noticed was the frowns.
    The International Olympic Committee has leased every sign and billboard in town to broadcast Olympic joy, but they can’t purchase people’s faces. It’s clear that the 2010 Winter Games has made the mood in the bucolic coastal city decidedly overcast. Even the customs police officer checking my passport started grumbling about “$5,000 hockey tickets.” Polls released on my first day in Vancouver back up this initial impression. Only 50 percent of residents in British Columbia think the Olympics will be positive and 69 percent said too much money is being spent on the Games.
    Read More:

  • larry

    Back when we won the bid there was some chatter about how we would see an influx of prostitutes including underage boys and girls. This was dismissed by management as a myth perpetrated by the anti-Olympics types. I had forgotten about that until today at around noon when I was returning to the Hall and saw someone who was clearly a prostitute on Cambie between 12th and 13th. Never saw that before. I hope it’s just an anomoly.

  • Dan Cooper

    To the question of reducing at least the line-ups on Welfare Wednesday (if not the social effects): issuing clients who don’t have private accounts with debit cards that are connected to a contracted account provider has been very successful in some US states. A client doesn’t need to stand in line or go to a certain place to pick up a check, because the funds are electronically deposited and can be withdrawn at any ATM, or used for purchases at a store. If the card is lost, it can be replaced any time.

    I heard about a year ago from an MCFD official, that the Province was studying the question of testing a system like this. I don’t know where it stands now.

  • Dan Cooper

    Curses at my brain fade. Please replace “MCFD” with “MHSD” in my previous post.

  • david hadaway

    Larry. Someone selling themself at City Hall! Whatever next?

    Actually I’ve noticed a major drop in the number of working girls around the Hastings Street Olympic Boulevard. Without suggesting that there has been any pressure put on them by the police to achieve a cosmetic clean up, it wouldn’t be surprising if they start showing up elsewhere.

    As for bringing prostitutes into Vancouver, take a look at the back pages of the Georgia Straight. It would be “like taking coals to Newcastle,” to quote another good old British saying!