Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday, Feb 2nd, 2010 - It's Olympic Countdown Time!

Ooooh, blogmates! The time is almost here! Only 10 more days and the world descends upon Vancouver and our little colonial town will cease to be a little town in the rainforest of Western Canada :)

That's right gang... we've been hearing for 8 years how the Olympics are coming, how all these plans are in the works, how we are over budget, how the security budget went from something like $160 million to over $4 billion. Everything is Olympics this and Olympics that. If you want to hear heated arguments, chances are the word "Olympics" comes into play. There are so many who are excited about the Olympics and this once in a lifetime event happening in our home city, there are those who are sooooo against them because of all the money that has/is going into them and in this recession we need money to be put into education, healthcare, seniors, etc. You will get those arguing that the Olympics HAVE brought jobs to those who otherwise would not have work because of the recession, not to mention the boost to the economy... but then you get the rest of the province saying that they have to help pay for the debt, but they don't actually get to see any benefits from the Olympics up where they are.

The end result... the Olympics are going to happen... and they start in 10 days! There are things that have been put into place that the majority of us have not had to deal with (or have seen) in our life in this city. For instance, today, police and law enforcement have arrived from across Canada, as well, I believe from Washington State. There are more officers/agents/undercover/security types here in this city, starting today, than have been on the West Coast of Canada since World War II ... when we were defending our shores from the Japanese who we/the US were at war with.

As a city, we have a public transit system, of which more buses will be added to the city routes, especially the downtown routes and the routes out to UBC (University of British Columbia). BUT, VANOC has contracted a US firm to supply 1000 buses (over and above what we already have) and 400+ drivers. Of course, this started an argument on Facebook about why didn't VANOC give the contract to a Canadian bus/charter company? Well, the reason is quite obvious... we don't have a bus company anywhere in Canada that can quickly amass 1000 extra buses plus 400+ licensed bus drivers. It's not a matter of ignoring Canadian bids for contracts... there are some contracts that no Canadian companies/individuals have bid on because they can't complete or commit to the contract... so VANOC has had to go elsewhere and hire a company that can. These 1000 buses have been arriving from all over the States starting this past weekend. These buses will make up the "Olympic Bus Network" which will be a network of buses that will take those with tickets to events, to the venues. For instance, a lot of the skiing/snow events are up at Whistler... a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from downtown Vancouver.

Now, get this... security IS going to be tight at the venues, and rightly so. So the Olympic organizers are telling people if you have tickets for any event, be it the Opening/Closing ceremonies or any of the sporting events... plan your day accordingly. You will want to get to the venue at least 2 hours before the event because you are going to have to go through the same kind of security that you would go through that you do when you have a ticket for a plane flight. Pack light... if you have a big purse or bag, then this will be xrayed, and manually checked, plus you will also go through a metal detector. If you pack light and only come with say a cell phone and your wallet, then you get to go through the Express Security Line... you still will need to go through the metal detector, and you'll still need to empty your pockets, etc... but you won't have to go through the manual check of a purse/backpack if you don't bring one. Oh... and leave those water bottles at home. You will not be able to bring water or beverages in... you'll have to buy them once you are in the venue. And once you are through security and in the venue? Don't think of leaving and coming out because once you are in, if you come out, you won't be allowed back in.

Starting today, the road closures have started. Not all of them... they are phasing them in over the next week... but once they are all in place, I think that's when we can expect this city to come to a vehicle stand-still, at least here in the downtown core. The rest of the city is going to have huge amounts of traffic trying to find other ways of getting from Point A to Point B. Then again, maybe people will just stay away from the downtown area with their car because even if they can get down here, there's nowhere for them to park. Almost all the main and semi-main roads have become no stopping/no parking streets.

I'm still prepared to leave my car home for the full 18 days if need be... but I'm hoping I will be able to get around to get to the grocery store, or up to my doctor's office (I have a blood test scheduled for Feb 8th)... but worst case scenerio, I'll be able to take a bus up the street :)

Let the games begin!! I just can't imagine where/when all the people are going to arrive... but we have been warned for 8 years now that they are all coming. So, who am I to think otherwise??

Ok.... time to call it a night!! Stay tuned :)



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