Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Vancouver gets OK to borrow to finish Olympic Athletes’ Village

with 4 comments

What this CBC story fails to deal with (and I expect the print media will follow suit tomorrow) is the substance of the “marathon debate”. No I did not stay up all night to watch it (though I did stay up all night for unconnected reasons). But I did watch the early bits of it on Cable 118.

The CBC has a brief quote from Carol James. But says nothing at all about the speeches that were made by the Opposition during the debate. I thought Maureen Karagianis was good – because she went after “Done Deal” Falcon as well as the hopelessly inept Minister of Finance. He, of course, was featured by many speakers including the Honourable Member for Coquitlam Maillardville – who held up the Auditor General’s report on Olympic spending and ridiculed the Finance Minister’s response that it was simply a “what is classified as Olympic Spending”. Of course we all know it was never going to be just $600m. What is fatuous is this government’s continued insistence that that figure still holds true. It never did – and thanks to the first shoe dropping now – never will.

There was, of course, no choice. Since we are stuck with the Olympics and the athletes are coming they have to be accomodated. And maybe the price of condos will recover. Note that no-one now seriously thinks of using the Olympics as a way to get public housing built. Although Whistler is is uing its village to at least make some afffordable housing availabelt ot hose on its waiting list.   The only things I have seen recently here seem to be focussed on short term emergency measures for the homeless – containers, wooden huts – even tents. The only concern has been with money – not housing need. The only risk worth discussing is the prospect that yaxes may increase – not that many human beings are forced to live in third world consitions in “the most livable city in the world”.

Of course the BC government did its level best to ensure that there was as little debate as they could get away with. Holding the debate on a Saturday to ensure that there would be no possibility of anyone actually answering questions (an arcne procedural rule does not permit Question Time on a Saturday).  And behaving with typical discourtesy during the debate – and for some reason concentrating their jibes and heckles at female members.  And none of the – very proper, quite appropriate – concerns raised by the Opposition were or will be answered.

I just hope people remeber this when it comes to them voting in a few months time.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 18, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Olympics, politics

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4 Responses

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  1. I agree 100 % with your post. My only quibble is that Vancouver has never been voted “The most livable city in the world”. this is a wilfull misunderstanding by local newspapers and politicians. The Mercer report and others rankings are only interested in ranking cities for businesses who are sending their workers on a temporarily basis in another city. I know because my brother worked as an expatriate worker in a succession of countries for years. He received, on top of his pay, a “hardship allowance” i.e extra money (lots!)for having to live outside his country. Vancouver high ranking only means that the hardship allowance to pay to someone sent to Vancouver is LOWER that the allowance he would get if he was sent to Paris, New York etc. Quote from Mercer report 2007 when Vancouver was # 3 with Vienna(they toned it down in 2008 Vancouver was #4 in 2008): Quality of Living vs. the quality of life. The Quality of Living index is based on several criteria used to judge whether an expatriate is entitled to a hardship allowance. A city with a high Quality of Living index is a safe and stable one, but it may be lacking the dynamic “je ne sais quoi” that makes people want to live in world-renowned cities such as Paris, Tokyo, London or New York. Sometimes you need a little spice to make a city exciting. But that “spice” may also give a city a lower ranking.
    What makes one person’s quality of life better or worse cannot be quantified in an objective index. Therefore, Mercer’s Quality of Living report reflects only the tangible aspects of living in a city on expatriate assignments, and leaves the question of the quality of one’s life to those living it!
    Other ranking lists, like the Monocle’s, are, by choice, slanted in favor of smaller towns. I live in Vancouver because it is a very laid back, casual, Cowboy town sort of place AND I MET THE LOVE OF MY LIFE HERE but it is not the most beautiful city in the world and definitely not the most pleasant, especially regarding housing, transit, entertainment etc. I much prefer Toronto in that regard (a city by the way is an agglomeration of buildings, streets, squares and services. The geographical location was there before, will still be there after we are all gone, and cannot be taken in account).

    Red frog

    January 18, 2009 at 10:33 pm

  2. Vancouver has in fact been selected for that title by more than the Mercer report. They are not the last word on the subject. But also Metro Vancouver is currently running job ads on CBC television “would you like to work in the most livable region on earth?” So you will have to accept that we think that way. It is a real problem because it leads to complacency. And the province reinforces that attitude with a fatuous “Best place on earth” slogan which is highly debatable – unlike the former quite truthful “Beautiful British Columbia”

    Stephen Rees

    January 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  3. Being nominated “The most livable city in the world” is bit like being nominated “The best dressed man in the world” an award that even George Bush got…

    Red frog

    January 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm

  4. Globe & Mail story with Millennium’s side of the story. Seems quite fact based rather than based on wild speculation and worst case scenarios like a lot of the news releases and newspaper articles.

    Ron C.

    January 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

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