Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Olympics

Vancouver Becomes a Transit City for 17 Days

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I wasn’t here. So I am not going to comment on what happened. But I think you should read John Calimente’s article in re:place Magazine.

My thought is now that we have shown that it can be done – why does it have to be confined to a two week sports festival? The biggest reason of course is money. There was a lot more capacity on the system. The photo the magazine chose to go with the article is of the the line up of the special VANOC buses – which were not – as I understand it – available to the public, so I do not think they count towards the additional transit. But that’s a nitpick.

The lane closures – and street closures – are also really important. Obviously there is more capacity than needed for single occupant vehicles, and when you start thinking about moving people, not cars, this is the sort of thing that is needed. Of course the same people who oppose any reduction in car movements are the same people leading the charge for the Olympics. They will now revert to type – and use the “well, that was different” argument. No, not really. Venues were spread about the city just as employment, schools and post secondary institutions are. There was an exodus (I was part of that) but that was compensated by the increase in visitors. Spread more through the day – but we could do a lot more about flexible work hours.

But it seems to me that the reported satisfaction with the Olympics needs to be retained in the future. The legacy ought not to be just the medals and the odd sports facility. It should be to a more livable city – where getting around is easier and fun. All the time. Which means we need a lot more transit service. Of all kinds.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

Posted in transit

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Athletes village to get $100-million loan

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Garry Mason in the Globe and Mail

The City of Vancouver has authorized lending up to $100-million to rescue the financially troubled Olympic athletes village project, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Council gave the city manager the mandate to advance the project’s developer the money to help cover cost overruns and other shortfalls at an in camera meeting held Oct. 14. It has already advanced nearly $30-million. At that meeting, council approved spending up to $450,000 to bring in a third party to oversee management of the project being built by Millennium Development Corp.

Details of the city’s involvement in bailing out the project’s cash-strapped developer have until now been kept secret. Councillors are under a publication ban and have been told they face serious repercussions if they discuss publicly the decisions taken at the in camera meeting.

Not really a surprise. Pretty much par for the course. For dealing with really pressing issues the City always pleads poverty and a reluctance to turn to local property taxes. For trivial issues, such as a two week sports festival that gives the Mayor the chance to twirl a flag on international tv, money will be found. And no one is allowed to talk about it.

Of course, in the run up to a local election, the publication ban looks like a pretty thin threat that did not bother some people.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 6, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Posted in politics

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IOC satisfied housing and road problems resolved

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Vancouver Sun

Oh well that’s all right then. The games can go on. Just forget everything that Vanoc and the IOC said about sustainability and legacy and all that environmental stuff. Some of us were cynical enough at the time to think that was just window dressing and the IOC have now shown that we were right.

The games – if it snows – will go ahead and the tv revenues will roll in – and the sponsorships are all sewn up now so there’s plenty of cash and hospitality suites for the fat cats.

Of course, we still face a major housing crisis in the region, but there will be enough beds for the athletes and the tv crews. At least for the few weeks that the IOC actually gives a damn about.

The legacy will be a much faster highway. There will be lots of expensive condos popping up along it for years to come and those people will quickly fill it up and slow it down again. Which is probably a good thing since the only problem with the old highway was the lack of common sense among those who feel themselves to be exempt both from the laws of the road and those of physics.

Oh and the highway might well have a hydrogen filling station on it too. Won’t that be nice. One of the sponsors may well manage to borrow a hydrogen car for a day so they can have a photo op. It won’t be much use after that but it will have served its purpose.

Meanwhile CN will have got out of its commitment to operate the rail line. There may or may not be agreement to keep the odd tourist train running now and then. After all the type of tourist it attracts is not too bothered by the fare. There will not be any kind of real passenger service of course: nothing to offer the now booming population growth of the area any kind of alternative to the Sea to Sky which will still see horrendous accidents and rock falls. And irregular, unpredictable closures. Though they may be able to clear up the mess a bit quicker by relocating some cops.

2010 could have been an opportunity to do better and to showcase to the world how serious we were about it. Instead they are going to see us for what we really are.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 14, 2007 at 10:31 am

Posted in Olympics

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