2010 Gold Rush

Neighbourhood set for faceoff over Olympic practice rink

Stay tuned for the big-box battle of Olympic proportions.

When plans were scrapped to renovate the Agrodome, the new rink at Killarney became the Games’ figure skating practice venue. Short-track speedskating was then shifted to Trout Lake. Hockey needs a new practice home.

The University of B.C. Winter Sports Complex has a 7,000-seat competition arena and two practice rinks. Only one practice rink is earmarked for Games use, and it’s too far from the Southeast False Creek athletes’ village. Enter Britannia Ice Rink, a slap shot away from Commercial Drive, the closest city-owned NHL-size rink. City hall’s Olympic operations manager Dave Rudberg hopes VANOC will pay the bill to fix it up.

Calls seeking comment from Rochelle Wallace, president of the Vancouver Minor Hockey Association, have not been returned.

Even if Britannia’s board and city council approve in January, it’s unlikely the arena would open for public viewing without a large security presence and price tag in 2010.

Some Olympic teams prefer to exclude reporters, so why would they let Joe and Jane Public watch?

It’s that security that some locals fear will disrupt the neighbouring community centre. Others group the Olympics with Wal-Mart in their corporate hall of shame.

The Drive has no shortage of opinions or opinionated. Commercial Drive Business Society president Carmen D’Onofrio has his eyes on the Olympic prize.

“It’s not that we want to mute those opinions that are against the Olympics,” D’Onofrio said. “We also have to face reality that the Olympics are coming and if we can benefit from the Olympics in any way possible we should take advantage of it.”

D’Onofrio wants The Drive to be a destination for Games visitors. Italian-style light displays are envisioned, like the ones of the constellations that were strung above Via Roma in Torino’s old town.

“We’d be the only neighbourhood in the city with something like this,” he said. “It addresses safety and security. It would be wonderful.”

Olympic anarchy

Safety and security ought to be top-of-mind for the Royal Bank of Canada after vandals destroyed windows at two branches and bragged on blogs. All because of RBC’s $110 million cash and services sponsorship of VANOC. Anonymous anarchists struck at Hastings and Nanaimo on September 29 and Commercial and First on December 8. It’s perhaps the most public evidence of anti-2010 sentiment since March’s Olympic flag theft from city hall.

“From the beginning there has always been more opposition to the Games than before, and I take that as a measure of the politics of B.C.,” said Kevin Wamsley of the University of Western Ontario’s International Centre for Olympic Studies.

RBC confirmed the incidents, but wouldn’t discuss safety and security measures.

Provident Security’s Michael Jagger said businesses can battle vandals with shatter-resistant safety film, laminated glass and motion sensitive surveillance cameras. Video systems can be programmed to detect unusual behaviour, such as loitering. That would trigger an alarm for a security staffer to investigate.

Companies needn’t wave the white flag and opt for unsightly bars or garage door-style shutters. “Security done quickly is ugly,” Jagger said.

Sponsor boycott

Pivot Legal Society’s designated agitator David Eby, meanwhile, hatched the idea of boycotting VANOC sponsors one by one until the private funders of the Games pressure VANOC to fulfil the sustainability pledges made by the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp. With less than 26 months until opening day for the 2010 Games, the Downtown Eastside ghetto remains hopeless.

“We don’t agree with violence and vandalism,” Eby said. “We haven’t used half the peaceful methods at our disposal.”

In 2003, 64% of Vancouverites backed the bid in the civic plebiscite. But if the 48,651 “no” voters remain opposed, that could be a foundation for Eby’s campaign.

There is no shortage of topics for VANOC to discuss at its next sponsors conference in February.

Merry Christmas!

Published December 18, 2007 · Business In Vancouver · Written by Bob Mackin

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