Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Olympocalypse! The Beginning!

Like it or lump it, the Olympics are here and the city will never be the same. I wasn’t going to start this, hopefully, ongoing feature until later tomorrow, after I’ve had a chance to check out the Panasonic Pavillion and their swank 3D technology, but already the tales are upon us and it’s time to catalog them;

– Word is the events are being broadcast in HD, for free, to anyone with an HD TV and a little tinkering. I’m trying to find out more, but in the meantime, has anybody heard of this, or is this the topical equivalent of “Email this to 10 friends and Bill Gates will buy you lunch?”

– Not everything during the Olympics costs money or requires a lottery draw! Check out Where 2 Be For Free! Free Wilco concert on Saturday! Robson Square has a zip-line! And more!

photo by drowcliffe

– Have you seen those big, red, no stopping bags dropped over parking meters (like on the Broadway corridor or Main Street)? Well, they mean it. One part security and one part keeping a lane open for critical bus lines, the city is enforcing their temporary no-stopping policy with a (get ready) $1000 fine. I found this out from a local business who’s deliveries got upset by the truck’s inability to stop right out front of the store.

– That helicopter is keeping me up at night. I’m just saying.

– UBC students are getting some time off. Which seems a considerable road bump mid-semester. I haven’t heard any information about how the departments are taking this into account, but at least Greek row has figured out how to capitalize on the events.

– Olympics, this is the Internets. Internets, these are the Olympics. And hilarity ensues, as Pedo Bear becomes the unofficial fifth mascot for the Vancouver Olympics. Take THAT, Hidy and Howdy!

OK, there’s lots going on – what have you seen or heard? Send in your Olympic links and tales.

Thursday, February 11th – torch arrives, route announced

It’s never fun when the title of a post encompasses the sum total of information, but that’s the case here. Next Thursday, the Olympic torch hits town – if you’d like to see it run by, route and times have been released online. It’s a fairly clever route, that seems to provide ample viewing opportunities without having to travel too far (unless you live above or below Vancouver, otherwise you’re making a trip no matter what – bring lunch.)

More on Transit adjustments

Remember how I said my brain turned to mush after all the fare weirdness we’ll see during the Olympics and I couldn’t sort through all the bus route changes and how to get to Whistler options, etc? Well, Miss 604 did the heavy lifting for us already – awesome! Admittedly, with a lot of help from travelsmart2010.ca;

Last night John was looking over street closures during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and trying to figure out his new public transit route to work. I would imagine many who work in or around downtown Vancouver are also going through this phase of planning their commute (if they haven’t taken two weeks holiday during this time).

Here are some transportation options you’ll need to consider over the next two months, according to TravelSmart2010.ca.

[VIA Miss 604]

Countdown to the Olympics: Transit adjustments

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With the Olympics about to begin, the city – including those who saw the international games as a boon as well as those that originally expressed concerns – is starting to ask, “What effect, exactly, will the games have on the day-to-day living in the city?”

Well for starters, transit is gonna get weird – I don’t mean that in a negative way, but rather meaning it’s going to get shaken up, both good and bad. As in, there will be, they figure, a lot more transit users. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school. The plan is to add more buses. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school… in their cars.

And then there are transit fees – already, if you’re trying to use the Canada line out of the airport, the ticket price has gone up $5. Meaning, you pay the regular zone fare for the train (YVR is in a zone with Richmond, meaning travel into Vancouver or Richmond is two zones = $3.75) and then an additional $5 AddFare on top. $8.75 a person to get from the airport to their hotel or homes.

A cab from YVR to downtown Vancouver is approx. $35 (TaxiWiz puts it at $26 including 15% tip – this is because TaxiWiz is drunk… or measures linear distances only and cannot account for per minute charges while you wait at a light or two or ten.) Cabs can hold 4 people, so unless you’re traveling alone, the train might not be the best option.

It should be pointed out that this AddFare is for what TransLink calls CashFares. Meaning, any fare purchase right at the terminal – if you have a monthly pass, away you go. Mind you, as a visitor, if you’re staying in Vancouver, do you need a two-zone pass? And if you only have the one zone pass, then you’re paying the extra zone AddFare. This is around the point my head starts to bubble.

And there’s more!

TranLink is offering collector FareCards, which are on sale at all FareDealer locations now. The passes aren’t strictly speaking, monthly passes, but rather Olympic passes, covering exactly the period of time the Olympics and Paralympics are happening – February 8th to March 21st. Here are the prices on those cards;

1-Zone $110
2-Zone $149
3-Zone $204
Concession $63

And here is what it costs for a single month (consisting of +/- 30 days)

1-Zone $73
2-Zone $99
3-Zone $136
Concession $42

Looks like a deal, right! Yes! For people who will only be here for the Olympics!

Townies are out of luck, as the Olympic passes do not cover the first week of February or the last week of March, meaning you either pay for two regular passes, as you normally would (ie $146 for one zone), or pay for the Olympic FareCard ($110), plus two books of  FareSaver tickets (20 tickets for ten work days = $38), for a total of $148. God help you if you need to make multiple trips in a single day and two tickets will not be enough.

At this point I stopped trying to factor in things like the West Coast Express, buses to Whistler, HandyDart. All in all, the events will mean business as usual for Vancouver commuters, at best, and more likely than not it will mean exactly the kinds of hassles people hoped would not happen.

What’s got you worried about Olympic traffic and transit? How are you planning to weather the WorldParty?

Canada Line opens to public in two weeks!

Flickr photo by Rob Hernandez

Flickr photo by Rob Hernandez

First there was the Expo line, then the Millennium line, and now there is the Canada line. Thematically, I think they should have just called it the Olympic line and be done with it, but they didn’t. Now the next line will have to be called the Galaxy line. Or the Cyber line. Neo line. I like that one.

Originally slated to open a couple of months from now, the line is done early, and will open to the public on August 17th and for fun, you can ride it for free between 1PM and 9PM!

All 16 stations on the line, between waterfront station downtown, Richmond Center, and the airport, will be up and running. And the Expo rocket ship statue is back at Cambie and 6th Ave – here’s hoping they remembered to put the Expo time capsule back.

Where to get on;
-Waterfront
-Vancouver – City Center
-Yaletown – Roundhouse
-Olympic Village (Cambie and 6th)
-Broadway – City Hall (Broadway and Cambie)
-King Edward (Cambie and 24th)
-Oakridge – 41th (Oakridge Mall)
-Langara – 49th (Cambie and 49th)
-Marine Drive (Cambie and Marine)
-Bridgeport (SPLIT)

(YVR)
-Templeton
-Sea Island Centre
-YVR – Airport

(RICHMOND)
-Aberdeen
-Lansdowne
-Richmond – Brighouse

[VIA TransLink]

yvr

Celebration of Light snuffed out


photo by Jon Rawlinson

Well, that’s a crappy way to start the news day – The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society has announced that sponsor funding wasn’t able to make up the $4 million required to hold the event this year.

The Vancouver Sun has the full article here [VS], which outlines some details on the event. The fireworks event, notable as being the largest fireworks festival in the world, has been going for 18 years, draws 350,000 on each of the four nights every year, and generates $37 million.

Reaction has been mixed, with some arguing that the people downtown are happy to see the event go and other wondering why the government (at all three levels) don’t step in to help.

I dismiss the first as being a not uncommon, selfish attitude – while it’s true the event does disrupt the downtown core and those that live there suffer various inconveniences, it should be said again; $37 million to downtown businesses (plus whatever those people selling pop and water on their lawns get) and top-ranking, world-class event. There’s something important about having a world-class event and while some people might be happier without them, cities are diminished when they’re gone. Kart racing anyone?

As for the second point, you can probably thank the Olympics. A great deal of money has already been committed to finance this one-off, world-class event, most of which will be held in an entirely different town. In any other year, even the municipal government might have been able to top up the pot, but this is the final 11 months run-up to the 2010 Olympics.

I’d like to float a suggestion that perhaps one world-class event, one that will fade over time (for example, is Vancouver still dining out on Expo 86? No, no we’re not) might consider saving Vancouver’s other world-class event, the one that will ideally return every Summer for years to come. I suspect that this is a fantasy world and those organizing the Olympics are more than happy to see it die, but imagine it; The Vancouver Celebration of Light, presented by The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! Part of the event is turned into a giant press event – a sneak peak of the Olympic torch, which is ceremoniously used to set off the fireworks, which end with five fireworks exploding into the Olympic rings!

But until then, I guess I better find something else to do with my August.

Vancouver Five: Vancouver STFU

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There’s a few things that I’m tired of hearing about around town. Be warned these five things are on notice.

5) The Hollow Tree in Stanley Park [gm]:  It’s a tree, it was killed by God.  That’s the way nature works.  If it was torn down to put up a Starbucks, yeah then we can have some sort of fit about that.  It’s not a metaphor, it’s a damn tree.  Get over it.

4) The dollar: I get it, it’s crazy that our dollar is so strong against the American one.  Yet it’s been like that for months now.  You can also add any story about how Product X is so much cheaper in the US now because of the dollars’ values.  We all get it.  It’s boring now.

3) The Canucks: Let’s just ignore the losers and hopefully they’ll all return to Sweden and never come back.  Instead let’s talk about (soon-to-be) former Canuck Trevor Linden [bb] whose far more interesting.  Though keep it to a minimum, he’s getting pretty close to going on the list to.  Remember he’s a hockey player, he only walks on frozen water.  For a team that actually wins something try the Whitecaps [wcfc].

2) How the Olympics are destroying everything: People were homeless before we won the Olympics and they’d still be homeless afterwards.  Let’s be honest we as a society don’t give a shit about the problem of the homeless, and if 2010 was not going to be in Vancouver all the money spent on the Olympics would not instead have been used to feed and clothe those who need it.  The money probably would have been spent on magic beans, ferries that we’ll never use or a space program.  The Olympics make an easy target because it’s billions spent on things like watching men in superhero costumes slide down a frozen tube in a piece of fiberglass, but they’re nowhere near the root cause of the problem.  Show some intelligence and try to find that root instead of just raging against the wrong machine.

1) How the Olympics are really going to revitalize the city:  Right because the thing holding back Richmond from becoming a world class suburb was the fact that it didn’t have a giant speed skating rink. 

Vancouver Five: Canada Line Celebrations

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The CBC [cbc] informed me that the city was celebrating the completion of the Canada Line tunnel today, bringing the most patriotic Skytrain line that much closer to completion.  Here’s five more things that we’re celebrating today.  Please insert sarcastic quotes where appropriate.

5)The Canucks loss to the Blackhawks [cbc]: Face it we’re not a city that’s comfortable with a winning NHL team, and so these overtime losses are making us feel safe.  When the team’s winning we start getting into debates with each other on the Skytrain and in line at the movies about ontology.  Now we no longer have to worry about Anselm and his arguments.

4)The Olympics are coming: Why did we have a two year pre-Olympic celebration and not a two year minus one month pre-Olympic celebration?  Is it just me or do the rest of you feel your very neutrons vibrating with eager anticipation?  If I get much more excited I might dissipate.

3)More Pickton [vs]: I have to pick the first season up on DVD before watching next year’s.

2) Conrad Black is going to jail [gs]: Happy days.  No sarcastic quotation marks needed here.

1) The Canucks again [exn]: They might not be able to beat an NHL team, but boy they can wipe the floor with the Hives.

The Vancouver Five: 2010 Opening Concert

Ron Sexsmith @ Cultural Olympiad Vancouver 2010

The pre-Olympic hype kicked off with a concert featuring Ron Sexsmith and Feist playing alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Here are five random thoughts that popped into my head during the show.

5) My math might be off, but isn’t 2008 two years too early for the Olmypics?

4) Ben Mulroney hosting? What they couldn’t get Justin Trudeau? Are Ben’s writers on strike too, because he’s painfully unfunny?

3) Three songs from Ron Sexsmith, I thought he was supposed to be a co-headliner. Jesus, Jorane got more stage time.

2) I understand not getting press credentials, because we all know this internet thing is just a fad, but please if I’m taking a photo without disturbing anyone else and without a flash do we really need ushers converging on me like I just snuck outside food into a movie theatre.

1) Who taught Feist how to rock? And why doesn’t she do that on her albums?

Bonus) I really need to go see the VSO at some point. They’re quite good.

Kids love them


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Originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

I suspected that the kids would love the new Olympic Mascots and after seeing them interacting with the public at The Bay today I guess I’ve been proven right. Kids freaking love the three mascots, and seeing them in person seemed to be a treat for children.

Granted it’s possible that kids are dumb and The Bay could have wheeled out any sort of animals and as long as they had big eyes and plush exteriors kids would have fallen for them, but for the intended purpose the ones choosen to represent our Olympics seem to work.

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