Understandably, we cannot say that the Olympics are directly causing the increase in homelessness (tripled by 2010) but they are exacerbating the problem. Inextricably connected to nearly all urban development plans and civic social issues since Vancouver got the bid, the Olympic Committee made a guarantee to ensure sustainable and transparent event management. This guarantee was set in stone, so to say, by including the Impact on Community Coalition’s (IOCC) 22 recommendations.
The recent protests are a result of certain promises being left unfulfilled. More directly, the relatively nonexistent response to an increase in homelessness. It’s not a difficult concept to wrap one’s head around: Development plans connected to the Olympics, in part, have swelled homelessness; a promise was made to avoid this; some citizens and activists took note and are protesting the inconsistency.
Our belief is that the purpose of protest is to act as a catalyst to have one’s issues brought to greater attention. Not to convince the people whose event you are ruining (clearly) but rather create a spectacle with a message behind it and hopefully the media will follow. However, our local media–quick to characterize and vilify the protesters rather than heed their cries–refused to act as an outlet for dialogue. It’s easier to write off legitimate protests to a poorly managed event than it is create an actual conversation about the real issues. Maybe there were no experts.
Don’t be confused by our completely biased argument here though. We don’t solely blame the media for not airing this issue to a wider audience. We also blame the protesters (who attended in almost equal numbers to the flag waving spectators, despite other reports). It was their inability to come up with catchy slogans that will stick is the real problem. Sure, the masks, rocks and paint-filled eggs may have been the best they could muster up last minute, but they should learn from their mistakes and mend these errors.
Here are a few slogans that really drive the point home. Consider for future protests:
- Our deficit will be huge and it’s all for the Luge!
– Homeless for Security 2010!
– No Death for Medals!
– Less Down Hill Skiing, More Down Town East Side Housing!
– I’m going to bomb the Games if you don’t stop converting SROs!
– Moratorium Not More Slalom!
– Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the world is warming it’ll never snow!
– I got gold IN PISSED OFF!
-I’d rather hurl than curl at the Winter Olympics!
-Don’t be de-luge-ional, the Olympics won’t bring prosperity!
In 2005, Mayor Sullivan asked, “When the world arrives in Vancouver in 2010, what kind of city will they find?” We will not be judged as a great city by how clean our streets and skyline are because the world will be looking straight ahead. It is how we treat those with the most to lose and least to gain that will determine the greatness of our city (to paraphrase Ghandi). And right now we are being judged.