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What some original Olympics boosters are doing, thinking now

February 11th, 2010 · 28 Comments

While Premier Gordon Campbell, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vanoc CEO John Furlong are basking in the media sunshine these days, they were specks on the horizon when the idea of bidding for the 2010 Olympics first arose.  A line of others cleared the way for them, players whose roles have been in many cases forgotten. Among them: former premier Glen Clark, former Vancouver mayors Philip Owen, Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan, former Whistler mayor Hugh O’Reilly, and the original corporate leader of the bid effort, Arthur Griffiths. Here’s a look at where some of the key earlier torch-bearers are now, what part they’re getting to play in the Games if any, and what they think of the event they brought to the province. You’d be surprised at who’s feeling uncertain about the event, who’s not going to any part of the Games except the opening, and who ended up getting a Games-related job.


The former premier of B.C. was the first politician to back the bid group with money, $50,000 in early 1998 to get them started. He’s also the man frequently credited with winning the Canadian Olympics Committee’s endorsement later that year of Vancouver as the country’s bid candidate with his passionate and emotional speech.

But last fall, he was hovering over his computer like any other British Columbian, waiting to find out whether he would get a chance to buy tickets to any of the events though the on-line lottery. Mr. Clark, now a senior executive with the Jim Pattison Group, put in for about $5,000 worth of tickets and then had a small moment of panic at the thought he might get everything he asked for. But he didn’t. Instead, the only event he was sure of going to until recently was a quarter-finals men’s hockey game.

“I don’t expect any special treatment,” says Mr. Clark. But he is going to get a little, it turns out after all. Two weeks ago, the premier’s office contacted him with an invitation for him and his wife to attend the opening ceremonies. He has also been invited to the International Olympics Committee’s opening gala on Wednesday.

Mr. Clark is mostly pleased that the Games have brought much of what he originally envisioned for B.C.: improved transit, jobs. But he is disappointed that local governments didn’t achieve more, especially for the Downtown Eastside. “One of my original thoughts was not just to leave a physical legacy, but also to create a catalyst for something more lasting. I don’t think it’s really accomplished what I hoped.” Although the province has done a lot to improve housing and jobs for the Downtown Eastside in the last two years, “I think they came in a bit too late in the game. It would have been better if they had started two years earlier.”


Philip Owen was the mayor of Vancouver when his council somewhat grudgingly agreed to support an Olympics bid. He was enthusiastic though cautious. But his councillors, dismayed by the uproar and security costs of a recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, said they were only in favour of the Games if they didn’t cost Vancouver anything.

Now, Mr. Owen, retired from politics since 2002 but an official ambassador for the Games the past four years, thinks things have worked out fairly well so far. However, he remains ambivalent about what the overall result might be.

“I’m sort of wait and see. It’s almost getting too big and too large. And the security … it’s almost a war zone,” said Mr. Owen, whose apartment at the foot of Davie is near the heart of the action. “There’s two helicopters overhead and police boats up and down False Creek. I hope it isn’t needed.”

He also wonders what it will really do for Vancouver’s image, especially because of the homelessness issue. “”If you take a picture of three people sleeping in a doorway and put it on the front of the New York Times, I’m not sure how that will work out. It doesn’t take much to knock everything off this teeter-totter.”

Mr. Owen isn’t going to any sports events – “it’s much better to watch them on television” – and thinks it would be improper to accept free tickets anyways. So he will only be going to social events – the opening ceremonies, courtesy of the premier, the IOC gala opening, and a few other corporate gatherings.


Mr. Sullivan was the symbol of Vancouver for many people in the rest of the world when he circled a Turin stage at the 2006 Winter Olympics with the Olympics flag attached to his wheelchair. The former mayor was also part of the council that decided whether to support the original bid back in 1996.

Now, he doesn’t have any kind of official role even though he would have liked one.

“I offered to do something. But it didn’t happen,” says Mr. Sullivan.

However, he is getting a coveted torch run spot this morning (Friday) for 300 metres along Commercial Drive, courtesy of RBC. And he is currently waiting to hear whether he will get to carry the torch in the run prior to the Paralympics.

Although he, too, has been invited to the opening ceremonies by the premier’s office, he won’t be going to any sports events at the Games.

“I was the champion for the Olympics because of what it does for the city. My interest was not the sports, I’m sorry to say.”

Dumped as the mayoral candidate by his own party prior to the 2008 civic election, Mr. Sullivan currently runs a non-profit funded by an American philanthropist that is aimed at promoting better city planning.

As part of that work, he is spending the Games trying to connect international media with people who he feels are important contributors to Vancouver’s social sector. As well, he’s been showing a short documentary that was made by an American film-making team about his life, using the attention generated by that to talk about social issues in Vancouver.

He has already generated more foreign media attention than many others connected with the Olympics, with two New York Times stories already that have focused on him extensively.


Mr. Campbell is famous as the Vancouver mayor who enraged and terrified Olympics organizers in 2003 when he carried out a campaign promise to hold a referendum on the Games – and then thrilled them when he successfully campaigned for and got a resounding Yes vote.

After one tumultuous term dominated by Olympics issues like the referendum and the Canada Line, Mr. Campbell quit and was shortly after appointed to the Senate by the Liberal government. Reached at his favourite hideaway on Galiano Island, he said doesn’t have a single complaint about the Games.

“All in all, I thought they’ve done a very good job. And given my knowledge of previous Games, one of the things I’m so pleased about was that John Furlong was there from start to finish.”

Mr. Campbell got to run with the torch in Dawson Creek when he was offered one of the spots reserved for Olympics sponsor Concord Pacific, which he enjoyed hugely. “I got to run it with people from the community and some young kids.”

Like everyone else on this list, he recently got invited to the opening ceremonies by the premier’s office. He says he was offered a city pass to the Games and offered tickets by several corporate groups. But he’s turned down most of that.

“I’d much rather see regular citizens taking those spots.” Instead, the one sports event he’ll be catching for sure is the Canada-U.S. men’s hockey game on Feb. 21. And he’ll be going to a lot of the parties in the eight days he plans to spend in the city.


Mr. Griffiths was the leader of the Vancouver-Whistler bid effort for the first three years of its existence, as it lurched into gear and then quickly won the right to be Canada’s candidate in the world competition. He left in 2000, saying he needed to focus on business and, when the Liberals looked for a new CEO in 2001, he was told he hadn’t made the cut.

But Mr. Griffiths, the owner of the Vancouver Canucks from 1987 to 1997 and the builder of GM Place, has ended up seeing the Games take over his life the last two years. That’s because he’s been working with a company called Prime Strategies, where he has handled any number of Games-related business files. They include the Russian retail giant Bosco (a “hybrid Bay, Roots and Lululemon,” as he describes it) that is selling its goods at the Games, Air Canada, Acer computers, and “a little work with the IOC,” Mr. Griffiths said this week as he was waiting for a helicopter in what has become a hectic life. “I should clone myself.”

To him, the Games have brought all the benefits he imagined for the province and more. His biggest disappointment is “people who are passing judgment on an event they’ve never been a part of” and his only surprise has been the level of policing. “It’s more security than I think anyone conceived of.”

With his connections, he has no shortage of opportunities to experience different parts of the Games. He carried the torch last Friday at Whistler, thanks to a personal invitation from CEO John Furlong. Tourism Vancouver invited him to the opening ceremonies today. And friends and business associates have been “very generous” with other tickets. For sure, he’s going to the men’s hockey final. He’ll get to watch it in the stadium that he built. “That’s pretty cool.”


Mr. O’Reilly spent years planning the Olympics for his town, travelling to other Winter Olympics and holding lengthy public meetings. Like Vancouver mayor Philip Owen, he was enthusiastic about them but cautious about the havoc they might wreak.

Then he left, quitting politics and Whistler in 2005 after three terms in office to move to Maui, where he sells real estate for Intrawest.

Speaking from Hawaii earlier this week, he spent most of his time talking about the protections he and his council put in to make sure Whistler wasn’t overwhelmed by the Games. No venues that would generate traffic jams on the highway to Whistler during the Games and then sit mostly unused afterwards. No selling development rights to land at Whistler to help pay for Olympics facilities.

He thinks those were all good moves, especially considering the way the public mood tends to sour in the years leading up to the Games. “We were forewarned by the IOC that every city goes through incredible challenges and negativity almost until the Games start.”

Mr. O’Reilly will be back in the city today to see what his efforts led to. He was planning to come for the middle week and go to events that his son had bought tickets for. Then he got a call from the premier’s office in the last few weeks offering tickets to the opening ceremonies. So he changed his flights and gave up some of his sports tickets for the later dates. There won’t be another chance in his lifetime to go to Olympics opening ceremonies in a place where he’d helped lay the groundwork for the Games.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Glissando Remmy

    ONE…The Olympic Countdown Thought of the Day

    ”I hope the Olympic organizers will have the decency to start the Games with a moment of silence, observed in the memory of the Six Billion Dollars Baby they removed from the things that mattered. So young, so sudden, it will be deeply missed, never to be forgotten. I hope.”


    Thirty “athletes” left home, suspected of doping. Thirty down…how many to go? When the first doping story will surface in the next three weeks, and you can quote me on that, I’ll be here!


    I’m a Remmy and she is an Olympulet. I don’t hate her family; the word hate is too strong. I dislike her family not because of what they represent, but because of what they have become. For the way they present themselves to others, for the way they feel entitled to things others cannot even dream to ask for. Like the Kennedys long time ago, they are bootlegging their way to the Top office every four years and when there, they claim goddess status. People who fall for this game are very diverse; most are naive and ignorant, some are shrewd, egocentric and self interested, then we have the athletes, their fans, friends and family. The rest are simply accidental tourists.


    “I love the Olympic Games! Like, I’m crazy about the Olympic Games. Most that I like is the torch relay. Like, they have those cool uniforms, with mittens and stuff, they have to run, like with a big white joint around the city, loud music is played, like awesome, people wave at them and then they go back home, like to tell their grandkids, like, hey kids, the games are here! The Games are here! And grandma is all smiles because she knows she is going to get some. They are really here, they are! I am here, you are here, the whole police force is here and it feels so, like, wicked and I love it!

    Now, on the other hand, if you are in for a totally unbiased opinion on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games ask my cat. He would most likely look into your eyes, pretend that he’s listening to you, then hiss at you, turn around, lift his tail as in “whatever” and show you his round butt hole while moving away from you, slowly, as far as possible, away, from you. Sometimes I think he is part of a more superior species than ours. Come to think about it, I’m cleaning his litter box, am I not? Hmmm. Why can’t people be nonjudgmental, sensible and sincere like my cat?”


    “$8/hour minimum wage + 1st place in Canada in Child Poverty + Pandemic Homelessness + BC Ambulance with no collective agreement + Funding Cuts and Future layoffs in Public Education + Bloedel and the Petting Zoo extinction + Easy Renovictions + HST + Decaying Medicare + … = $ 6,000,000,000”
    That’s sweet BCxteen tones!


    26 years ago they left her home. Mercilessly. Now, she should pay them back! If I was Crapper, I would put down that torch tomorrow and leave it behind. On the sidewalk. Period. In my opinion.


    Glen Clark. Jack Poole. Philip Owen. Gordon Campbell. John Furlong. Larry Campbell. Sam Sullivan. Arthur Griffiths…. Plazas.


    $1 Million for Gold. In Luge. Now, that’s money well spent! Excuse me for a moment but I do have to gurgle my disgust down, with some Dom Perignon.


    I overheard this smart looking guy on the Skytrain telling his friends that he is planning to stop shaving and changing his lucky jersey and underwear for the duration of the Games (Ice Hockey to be more specific). Listen you punk, next time you confess to your friend, do it in the third person and say it’s from some French flick you’ve seen on TV. Please, if you didn’t care for your girlfriend, at least do it for my benefit, Olympo Man!


    Instructions for the locals: “Don’t come hungry. Bring food!”
    For the visitors:” Don’t bring anything. May I show you to your seat Ma’am?”


    If all homeless would suddenly emerge on the streets of Vancouver dressed in Olympic gear, head to toe, could they be charged with sarcasm?


    While Gregor is massaging his ego, by doing 4.00 am interviews (as if that’s important to Vancouver) and torch relay start ups his unstable Penny does everything possible to embarrass the hell out of everyone else at the City. The despicable way in which Ark Tsisserev was fired will come back to bite her in the derriere. And when the time will come I’ll be there to see her off. Like a true gentleman!


    The whole world (actually more like 40% of it) will have their eyes on us. You’ll find out from their press releases how we’ve performed, or not. Then you’ll decide for yourselves if it was all worthy. Word is that big “generous” corporations are going to scout the city for future investment opportunities, courtesy to our elected officials. Milk and honey is expected to flow down the Robson Strasse. All natural light and fresh air are going to be free of charge for the duration of the Games; hot water will be dispensed throughout the city, so wash your thoughts clean.
    Welgome home strangers! There. As for the rest of you, if you want to help, buy Olympic merchandise, smile, be gregarious, don’t drive, buy Olympic merchandise, bike, walk, stay home, buy Olympic merchandise, eat out, keep in shape, buy Olympic merchandise, it’s only for a few weeks.
    You can fake it Vancouver!


    Tomorrow at 6.00 PM I’ll be at the real Olympia… on Denman, having a nice dinner with my family, helping out in the way I feel it’s important to the little guy, because after the dust from these Games have settled over the city, and after all the Olympic buccaneers are long gone with their loot, the little restaurant with Five Rings and a Torch neon will continue to do business not because Katarina Witt (a fine dame otherwise) was in town but because of me and you and the other.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Glissando:

    Stop worrying about the Ark Tsisserev story. That’s over at my blog.

    Frances cannot cover that. Not when she’s busy (willingly) counting how many times Penny Ballem will fart.

    Why cover a story that has a life safety issue attached to it? Why cover a story that proves that intimidation reigns supreme in Robertson’s City Hall.



  • Tim Latanville

    Dear Alex Tsakumis,

    I have read your stories and your blog posts and am shocked at your constance vitriol. You’re a very angery man and I hope you get some therapy to deal with it. You clearly have more time on your hands than most people that you can rant on these blogs so constantly and with so much angry enthusiasm. You hopefully understand that most people pass over your predictable rants. Get some help for all of our sakes.

  • George

    Dear Tim Latanville,
    I believe Alex is doing his job, and exposing the truth…. speak for yourself. Some of us love the fact that he is looking under the carpet, and exposing all the dirty little secrets, that many of us have been forced to keep quiet about for too long. Are you related to Johnathon ? This rant has a familiar ring to it!!
    If Alex sounds angry, imagine all of the whistle blowers if they stood up together and sang in the choir. That sir, will be a very loud roar.
    Stick to reading the funny pages, your rants can’t stop the truth from leaking out.

  • From Alex’s blog post:

    “To provide you with an idea of how these problems can arise, no device is absolutely foolproof. Proper wiring and installation ability, for example, can affect even the purest product and it can sometimes take months or years to fix (in fact a major Vancouver shopping center is currently going through a “system maintenance” for precisely the same problems with the same panel installed a few years ago).”

    I’m wondering why the ‘major shopping center’ and presumably also a danger to Vancouverites wasn’t identified Alex?

    Otherwise, interesting article, hate the intro music feature on the home page (the feature, not the song or singer), sure wish you would lose the name-calling. It would do wonders for your fan base.

  • “One of my original thoughts was not just to leave a physical legacy, but also to create a catalyst for something more lasting. I don’t think it’s really accomplished what I hoped.”

    I agree entirely with Glen Clark on this point regarding the DTES. However, although the Olympics will soon be over, it does not mean that they cannot remain a catalyst for more significant regeneration of the community. I think many of us are feeling a heightened embarrassment over the lack of progress in addressing the problems in this neighbourhood, especially given the new world media attention.

    I recently visited the City/Province housing centre that is open at Woodwards, and found it of some interest. While I was there, I had discussions regarding a number of initiatives that are needed in the community…. including enhanced dental programs for those who are looking for work but desperately need dental work…and a similar ‘dress for success’ effort to find clothing for men and women looking for work.

    We also talked about the fact that at the end of March many of the temporary shelters will be closing and hundreds of people will be returned to the streets.

    This , and a recent flurry of other telephone calls and letters have prompted me to resurrect the relocatable modular housing proposal for the homeless that I promoted a year ago. It could be a speedy and effective way to house a lot of people, on various sites around the city, in a relatively cost effective way. The cost per unit would be well under $40,000 and the units could be available for 10 years, or longer.

    I am currently investigating whether some of the modular units that were purpose built, or transported into BC from Alberta for the Olympics might be available for re-use as modular housing for the homeless.

    The exteriors could be upgraded with murals and artwork, and a lot of housing could be set up in a relatively short period of time.

    According to earlier conversations I had with the Province and City, a key consideration in rejecting the idea was not the capital cost, but rather the operating costs for related support services. So I would urge everyone who thinks it is important to help people stay off the streets to join me in asking the provincial and federal governments to work with the city in finding more government funding to try out this approach.

    As many others have pointed out before, much more eloquently than me, we cannot afford not to.

  • Hi Chris:

    Because it wasn’t part of the story. It’s Metrotown Shopping Center and the issues are being reviewed as we speak. The problem with the panels is that within a normal range, if you’re holding a two-way, the panel malfunctions.

    The bigger issue though is the way it was handled by the Mayor and his cohorts who are eerily silent.

    And let me tell you, lose the school-girl sanctimony about name-calling, you jerk, I never do that. Ever.

    Seriously, you should hear some of the poor employees at city hall. You wanna talk anger??

    I’ve NEVER heard that kind of complaining. For all the people who ever appeared here and pretended that they think the same kind of “turnover” happened under Sam….pleasant dreams.

    The takeover of the bureaucracy continues while Frances and others do puff pieces on the Olympics.

    But boy when I upbraided Suzanne, no hesitation.

    Sorry, who is it that’s biased again???


  • Hi Alex:

    I made the same observation re: name-calling and Ms. Anton:

    “Aggressive reporters get to the truth. We need more of them. IMO, it is a bit disappointing when they go for the cheap shot however.”

    It’s hardly school-girl sanctimony to suggest a journalist can do their job without name-calling.



  • sick city worker

    Hey Tim, I work at city hall. If it wasn’t for Alex Tsakumis none of us would have a voice. The union bosses and workers are on opposite sides of this one. If it wasn’t for Alex we’d be even more afraid for out jobs. and how we are going to pay to live. If you want to see angry, come down here and ask around. We are being treated like crap.

    Keep up the good work Alex. Everyone is reading and cheering.

  • “I am currently investigating whether some of the modular units that were purpose built, or transported into BC from Alberta for the Olympics might be available for re-use as modular housing for the homeless.”

    No need Michael. There are already hundreds of potential dwelling units awaiting use in the form of empty boxcars languishing in the rail yards separating HAHR area from the waterfront on hundreds of under utilized acres.

    Are we blind! Much needed housing? An extension of Crab park? Languishing! Another damn blot on this pathetic talk, talk, talk, talk empty talk town . . .

    How many valuable urban acres wasting? Huh!

    Why? Beats me! There are vast acres of rail yards in Coquitlam set up to house the screeching brakes and clanking parts of parking boxcars!

    More mature Canadian cities dispensed which their rolling eye sores decades ago!

    At little expense these units could be converted quite quickly. And until we can find the gumption to really address this social aberration and bloated housing “market” it is a useful stopgap. Must we await the inevitable bubble to burst before we wake up?

    The north shore of False Creek was made useful decades ago. Why is this very valuable acreage still under utilized?

    A radical idea? Of course! Only in Vancouver . . .

  • Hey Chris, apologies, I was kidding im my earlier comment…perhaps it wasn’t clear…

  • PS Ummmmm I know, I know box cars parked awaiting cargo.

    Well actually, no! Google the area up and study. The area in question is far removed from the loading docks.

    Indeed, the area around the ships is a container dock: containers are shipped out by truck.

    That land is crying out to be used . . .

  • Edward

    Much as I am not a Sullivan booster, I am happy to hear that he is one of the few honest enough to say publicly that the olympics are not about the sports, but the money.

  • George

    OMG lets hope that the people you plan on having live in those old boxcars aren’t Jewish!!~!
    I’ve heard this idea several times recently and I still find it revolting. Recycle yes but be sensitive to horrors that have gone before us.
    Lest we forget…

  • Huh! George . . .

    “Ah but that was long ago and in another country: and besides the wench is dead!”

    . . . said the Jew of Malta . . . .

  • George

    lest we forget,
    oh, I didn’t realize history had an expiry date..
    I guess you forgot…. convenient short term memory… as I said OMG. Me bad, for having to gall to point it out. I guess you didn’t lose any family in that war.

  • OMG are we dredging this up again . . .

    Indeed I was in that war as a very young and lucky victim . . . I know the smell of cordite.

    Do you ?

  • Now, to get back to the issue at hand.

    But first, I really feel for the Hallistas even though I cannot empathise with them: I hope responsible management returns to the Hall after all this hoopla: after security indulges its expensive toys . . . I hope no one gets hurt.

    Michael suggested prefab temporaries for the homeless but they may take time to bring on stream : hence my obviously gauche suggestion.

    As for that chunk of land separating the back of Water Street from the shoreline . . . well . . . how come it has taken so long?

    Couldn’t that be VANOC’s gift to DTES.

    God know after all the years of shit they’ve been bringing down don’t they owe? Big time!

  • George


    My apologies to you.
    I should not have dredged that topic up.
    I actually do realize the practical aspects of the concept and have seen the modular unit and think it has potential….
    In response to your last sentence……….ever wondered why poop floats?
    Have a good day, and I hope my cranky didn’t ruin yours.

  • Denis

    The joy of having a computer is I don’t have to watch things like the opening ceremonies or the many commercials. I lasted 15 minutes just after 5.30 and was getting ansy . I’ll tune in after they drown the flame and wait to see the bills start pouring in.

  • Joseph Jones

    Michael Geller: “We also talked about the fact that at the end of March many of the temporary shelters will be closing and hundreds of people will be returned to the streets.”

    On Wednesday a health care worker was telling me that “business” had been unusually quiet for treatment triage. She pointed out to her co-workers that a lot more people happen to enjoy shelter. For the Olympic moment.

    The hearts of fools glow as they believe.

  • Booge

    Tiny Tim. Small minded and less endowed.
    “… that Tsisserev’s appointment as head inspector was done by council. His reading of the Vancouver Charter is that such an appointment cannot be terminated for budget reasons. Jackson has written a letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson requesting that he apologize, on behalf of the city, to Tsisserev for the way he was treated on his last day.”

    Good Job Alex. Keep up the work…

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of the Day… ONE

    “I knew that these Olympic Games were jinxed from the moment they were awarded. But I would have never in a million years, expected to start with a death “in the family”


    I heard it was massive, it was indoor, unheard of, celebrities lining up like hollyhocks during mass, the sounds, deafening; the smells, overpowering;the light projections, blinding; too much for the average consumer, for any mortals in general. This was a party made for Gods. The only thing though, the gods didn’t show up! They choose to watch it on Live TV.


    That’s from the mouth of one “Protester against the Protesters” member. Today. How shrewd and self absorbed ass hole can you be to protest against the protesters protesting against over consumption, gluttony and lack of humanity?


    Ok, Olympic organizers, you got my kids’ attention with your giveaway red mittens, travelling medal men shows during classes, let’s clap one for the team, let’s all dress in red/ white Day… Now let’s take photos of the kids’ in front of the venues they cannot attend, they cannot afford or they are not invited to.


    That’s how I would explain the Olympic Games to the kids. Hey kids, do you remember the Petting Zoo in Stanley Park? Do you remember Holly the Goat, Mary the Cow and Jack the Rabbit? Well you remember them good kids, because by the end of March they are all gone! I can’t tell you were, but I can tell you this: Without them gone, our dear Mayor, yes kids, the one waiving at you on the Telly, and his friends at the City Hall of Vancouver could not have been able to attend the opening ceremonies today, for free!


    What is going on? Whatever happened to the Canadian hospitality? Why can’t we invite anybody without Tasering them to death or killing them by Luge? That was no freak accident, the Georgian luger, even inexperienced as he was, should not have died. Period. That’s why the real good professionals use a failsafe approach to their designs. Or not. In this case. Of course the Olympic PR machine is trying hard to deflect the attention from the slick, super fast course and blame the poor “inexperienced” 21 year old. We can’t have his angle on this one anymore, can we? By the way, a Romanian luger is in hospital after hitting a wall, allegedly on the same course.


    The TV reporter who crafted the expression “The young man died doing what he loved…(re: Georgian luger) ” Yes, that would mean a lot to his family and friends, you stupid mouthpiece.


    One friend of mine went to see a movie at approximately the same time with the opening ceremonies at BC Place. For whoever wants to know, the place was packed with people that seemed oblivious that “the whole world was here” not more than 12 km away. Nah, no Olympic spirit in Burnaby!


    As I told you yesterday I was going to pay my respects to the Olympic family with a rack of roast lamb, washed with a pitcher of beer in the familiar sounds of Greek music. The lamb was finger licking good, the beer was ice cold and the music was… By Zeus! La la, la la, la la,… Mosi Alvand the owner of Olympia on Denman sends his regards! We left before 9.00 PM just in time to get away from the orgasmic fireworks display.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Urbanismo, For a number of reasons, I too will not advocate putting people in box-cars. However,I will consider the re-use of shipping containers, since I have seen enough applications to demonstrate that they can be redeveloped into attractive housing. The problem at the moment is that I am told there are not a lot of local companies able to cost effectively convert the containers.

    However, we do have a very skilled modular housing industry, that could easily refurbish older modular buildings, or build new modules in a very cost effective way. While I appreciate there are other important topics being discussed above, I hope the reloctable modular housing idea will get the attention of people who can help make it happen.

    Since, as Joseph Jones points out, people with shelter generally reduce demands on the health care system.

  • I’ve got too many barnacles on my bottom to be moved by all this hoopla, hoopla, hoopla.

    And seeing all that land wasted behind Water Street, in the midst of what appears to be the real prospect of housing melt down when the hoopla, hoopla, hoopla subsides gets me thinquing . . .

    Please indulge me, while I engage some number crunching as I try to get a handle on the post hoopla, hoopla, hoopla . . . you never know someone on this blog may be interested . . .

    Ergo some factoids:

    i. Let’s see now there are 4.5m souls living in our evergreen playground . . .

    ii. 90,000 of those souls, evidently, pay more that 33.3% of their family income on shelter: which according to CMHC is a no no!

    iii. In the province, 1,500, (Huh! godda be more than that!), and rising, of those souls are homeless: but that’s another story!

    iv. So, according to ii, up to 20% of families are sucking, wind big time, in an economy dependent upon everyone rushing to the mall to spend, spend and spend . . .

    v. And get this, 60% of Vancouver’s families rent, in an economy almost solely depended upon real estate sales, because they cannot afford to buy . . .

    vi. The 2010 average price of a home provincially is $490,900 and that may be higher in metropolitan areas where the jobs are.

    My credit Union offers five-year mortgages at 5.39%. So with the current 5% down carrying the remainder of 470,000+/- for 30 years will cost, yoiks, C$2,631.86 monthly: or an annual family income of C$95,000.00 . . . whooo-ah scary . . .

    Ummmmm, I wonder . . . when the hoopla, hoopla, hoopla subsides living in a container may yet be a fun idea . . .

    Or if the bubble burst there goes the farm . . .

  • Urbanismo, I’ve changed my mind. On my way to Cypress yesterday I saw some train cars on the tracks by the SeaBus station that appear to be used for housing. You’ll find a photo on my blog at

    Now these old Canadian Pacific sleepers might be a good place to house the homeless, until the modular housing is ready!

  • Bill Smolick

    I heard Griffiths was divorced and basically flat broke. This seems to contradict at least part of that. I know the first part is true.

  • Takes a big man, Michael, to change his mind: good pic!

    There are dozens of sleepers, diners. day cars to fill those empty rails you photo-ed

    . . and even more dozens of good folks waiting to fill ’em . . .