Nov. 4 marked the 100-day countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
A host of events were organized in Whistler to mark the historic occasion. The day began with the Spirit Program Breakfast with Doug Lipp, the former head of corporate training at Walt Disney (how appropriate), a citizenship ceremony for new Canadians, and the 100-Days to Go Celebration, complete with countdown cake and the Olympic mascots. Whistler’s mayor has cut 20 countdown cakes since the bid was announced in 2003.
Despite the high number of students absent from Whistler schools due to the flu, the Whistler Conference Centre was packed with revelers. The perfect incubator for spreading the Olympic Spirit and the H1N1 virus.
With less than 99 days to go before the Five Ring Circus begins, here’s a list I compiled of 99 positive and negative things that residents of Vancouver and Whistler can look forward to (in no particular order).
Only 99 days to go before…
1. all the public parking spaces in Whistler disappear and get turned over to VANOC
2. 1,600 private security personnel hired by Contemporary Security Canada (CSC) move into Whistler’s Rainbow development.
3. we witness the longest gas lineups ever at Whistler’s only gas station in Creekside.
4. thousands of Whistler and Vancouver residents escape to sunny destinations to escape the road closures and security perimeters.
5. B.C. continues to have the lowest minimum wage in the country
6. Whistler hosts approx. 3,500 police, army and security personnel (about 35 per cent of the permanent population). Police State anyone?
7. about 4500 Canadian soldiers will be deployed for various security purposes – twice the number of troops that Canada has in Afghanistan.
8. 13,000 security personnel arrive in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics – Canada’s largest security operation.
9. the “sign” police remove ambush marketing signs from people’s windows and homes as per BILL 13 – Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2009
10. Whistler Secondary School closes from Feb.8 to March 2, 2010
11. Whistler blows $80,000 for the few hours that the Torch Relay is in town (Feb. 5).
12. 10,000 media arrive in Whistler and Vancouver to report on the Games starting Jan. 12. Hopefully VANOC blocks them from covering the “unsavoury” side of the Games.
13. the Olympic Closing Ceremony takes place at BC Place (Feb 28, 2010)
14. those living near venues will require special security passes to walk/drive around during the Games.
15. Canada’s troops continue to fight a senseless war in Afghanistan, even as Canada urges all nations in the world to observe an Olympic truce while the 2010 Winter Olympic Games take place.
16. businesses decorate their stores with Olympic paraphernalia for the Whistler Chamber’s 2010 Decorating Contest (judging on Jan 12)
17. Creekside Gondola closes from Feb. 1 to March 1, 2010
18. all surface parking in Creekside is closed from Jan. 3 to April 21, 2010.
19. parking lots 1 to 5 are closed to the public in Whistler Village
20. Blackcomb Way vehicle restrictions begin in Whistler (Feb 4, 2010)
21. GlaxoSmithKline posts record profits from sales of its H1N1 vaccine, Arepanrix.
22. Whistler Public Library is closed to the public for the duration of the Olympics
23. Canada’s second largest municipal park, Stanley Park is closed to the Vancouver public and tourists (starting Nov. 1)
24. Vancouver dedicates one lane of traffic (the curb lane) in each direction to Olympic vehicles and TransLink buses.
25. residents can turn their homes into 2010 Celebration Centres (as outlined in VANOC’s Paint the Town Red Handbook). Decorating ideas include: draping your windows with red streamers, tying a red flag to your car antenna, drawing a message in the snow with red food colouring, and installing red and white Christmas lights.
26. select ski run closures take effect on Whistler Mountain (starting Jan 25, 2010)
27. a checkpoint is set up north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway to discourage unnecessary car trips into Whistler during peak travel times (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
28. the Whistler Youth Centre is closed
29. the Teddy Bear Daycare is closed
30. no more VANOC Olympic countdown cakes or silly animé mascots running around
31. women ski jumpers are officially barred from competing at the 2010 Olympics
32. Whistler restaurants and pubs receive a half-hour extension of the closing hours during the 2010 Olympics. Lounge service will close at 1:30 a.m. and nightclubs will close at 2:30 a.m.
33. the Whistler Conference Centre underground closed from Jan 25-April 4, 2010
34. the Whistler Olympic park is closed from Jan. 31 to March 2, 2010
35. El Nino makes an appearance (for better or worse)
36. The B.C. government’s Assistance to Shelter Act is used to displace the homeless from high-visibility areas in time for the Olympics.
37. no-one is able to buy advertising in a public space unless they are sanctioned by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Olympics. VANOC has made a blanket purchase of every major supply of ad space in outdoor and public venues in the Lower Mainland for the 10 weeks surrounding the Games.
38. people will need to travel into Vancouver’s downtown area before 7 a.m. or after 9 a.m. and leave by 2 p.m. or after 7 p.m.
39. total road closures, demanded by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, include the entire area around the Vancouver Athletes Village, Pacific Boulevard east of Cambie Bridge, ring roads around BC Place and GM Place, part of Renfrew Street at Hastings Park and Canada Place, and Waterfront Road around the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.
40. all deliveries are scheduled between midnight and 6 a.m. for the month of February 2010.
41. outside food and beverages are restricted items at Olympic and Paralympic venues and will not be allowed in, unless required for medical purposes. Baby food and formula are okay.
42. Visa cards and cash are the only accepted forms of payment for merchandise at the venues.
43. half of all revenues generated by the Games will go directly to IOC coffers. Regrettably, the City of Vancouver signed an agreement assuming 100% of the debt as a condition of bidding on the Games. Residents of host cities should expect a major tax increase and/or cuts to service to cover the shortfall
44. the BC Civil Liberties Association launches its 2010 Legal Observer Program – “watching the watchers at the 2010 Olympic Games.”
45. Canadians are allowed to express their freedom of speech anywhere they want in Canada, outside of the proposed “protest pens.”
46. the backcountry trails in Cypress Provincial Park are closed from Dec. 1 until April 1,2010 – a total of more than four months. Public access to the rest of the area will be restricted from Feb. 1 to March 8, 2010.
47. Cypress Mountain ski resort including the Nordic area will be closed to the public without Olympic tickets. Road access to the mountain will be limited to Olympic and local traffic only. No spectator or public parking at the Cypress Mountain venue during the Games. At least, Grouse Mountain plans to run it skiing and mountain operations non-stop for 24 hours each day, during the 17 days of the Olympics.
48. a number of Whistler-area B.C. Forest Service roads will be closed, including the approach from Whistler to Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park from January to March 2010. For a complete list of closures, visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/dsq/
49. Callaghan East (from Highway 99 to the junction with the paved road leading to the Whistler Olympic Park) will be closed to the public Oct. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010 due to Olympic and Paralympic activity.
50. Cheakamus River (east side access to Cheakamus Lake) is closed to the public from Jan. 4 to March 31, 2010 due to Olympic and Paralympic activity
51. Cheakamus River (west side access to Black Tusk) – No vehicular access Oct. 15, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. Closed to the public from Jan. 4 to March 31, 2010 due to Olympic and Paralympic activity
52. Daisy Lake – no stopping or parking except within authorized areas; no access beyond Whistler Bungee due to Olympic and Paralympic activity, from Jan. 4 to March 31, 2010. Also home to the 1,000 Canadian Army personnel.
53. 390 host families take in Games-time volunteers through Vanoc’s Homestay Program.
54. VANOC uses a cruise ship to house 1,100 people dockside in Squamish from late January through to end of March 2010
55. 3,000 rooms in Whistler are used for members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), broadcast rights holders, accredited print reporters and photographers, sponsors, National Olympic Committee members, and International Sport Federation members.
56. residents enjoy the free Cultural Olympiad 2010 from Jan 22 to March 21 – a showcase of Canada’s best artists. Lineup to be announced.
57. Sports fans dye their hair red to show support for the Canadian athletes (another idea found in Paint the Town Red Handbook).
58. the H1N1 pandemic has the potential to shut down the Olympic Games and all public gatherings. Where’s VANOC’s contingency plan?
59. tourists in Whistler struggle to find something to eat after the medals ceremonies, given the majority of the restaurants have been rented to the IOC or other corporate entities.
60. Olympic aficionados get to wear their red mittens and BELIEVE that Canadian athletes can – and will – own the podium in 2010.
61. hundreds of empty rooms in Whistler are sold at bargain basement prices
62. The Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies (WSL2010) comes on board to implement a post-Games business plan for the Olympic facilities: Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Athletes Village.
63. 80 participating countries arrive in Vancouver to participate in the Olympic Winter Games
64. Whistler residents stockpile food essentials to avoid food shortages and/or the exorbitant prices that will be charged by local grocery stores.
65. Whistler residents park their cars at home and travel exclusively by public transit
66. Granville Street, the main artery in Vancouver is closed for IOC delegates during the Games
67. Olympic visitors get to experience Whistler’s RDC Net Zero “green” home, Austria’s Passive House and the 2010 Pride House
68. The border collies arrive to herd all the “sheeples” into place
69. Blackcomb Sleigh Rides stops running its tours on Green Lake (due to security restrictions) and moves its operations to Blackcomb Mountain (Base 2) for Feb. and March 2010.
70. Whistler’s council meetings are cancelled for three months, resuming on March 23, 2010. Are their pay cheques put on hold as well?
71. closures on Vancouver’s major roads, including Expo and Pacific Boulevards, the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, Quebec Street between Terminal Street and Second Avenue, Canada Place and Waterfront Road.
72. VANOC gives away free event tickets to local residents to fill the empty stands
73. scalpers flog 2010 Olympic tickets, much to VANOC’s chagrin
74. Translink finally provides bus riders with turnstiles at the sky Train.
75. Whistler municipal workers get to wear their blue Arc’teryx jackets around town
76. Whistler’s new $45 million hydrogen bus fleet start operating. Let’s hope El Niño doesn’t bring rain. These buses are known to short and stop running if they go through more than 10 inches of water.
77. Whistler Blackcomb starts producing “supersnow” – created by putting an additive known as the “Snomax snow-inducer” into water sprayed out of snow guns, if there’s not enough snow. Very toxic and not recommended for eating.
78. In the case that the alpine venues are short of snow, the plan is to make artificial snow and stockpile it in mini-mountains for later use. If a warm spell hits, snow groomers will spread snow on the slopes.
79. international media outlets descend upon the host cities, reporting the good, the bad and the ugly
80. We get to see the world’s best winter athletes compete at their best.
81. Olympic fans get to enjoy the Vancouver Victory Ceremony
82. Olympic security rules ground B.C.’s small airlines like Whistler Air and Pacific Coastal Airlines, since communities without screening facilities will not be allowed to land at Vancouver International Airport
83. Vancouver residents living close to Olympic venues will have to adhere to the new parking restrictions effective from Feb. 12 to Feb. 28 and March 12 to March 21, 2010.
84. airspace restrictions take effect for southwestern B.C. and NW Washington state, under the command of NAV Canada and the U.S Federal Aviation Administration from Jan. 29 to March 24, 2010.
85. all Olympic spectators must undergo security screening before entering an Olympic venue. Prohibited items (according to Vanoc) include: ammunitions, criminally prohibited weapons, explosive substances, firearms, replica firearms, toy guns, knives (although Sikh kirpans are okay), pepper spray, public incitement of hatred, wilful promotion of hatred. Be prepared to have your bag and the contents of your pockets inspected.
86. VANOC bans ambush marketing of any kind, distribution of leaflets, pamphlets and non-approved publications, promotional material and wearables.
87. All spectators will be asked to go through a magnetometer (metal detector) before entering a venue.
88. 25,000 volunteers arrive to assist with the delivery of the 2010 Winter Olympics
89. the RCMP installs hundreds of CCTV cameras that use facial recognition technology throughout the Olympic venues, to help officers keep tabs on the nearly half-a-million visitors expected for the Games.
90. the security expertise used during the 2010 Winter Olympics is transferred to the G8 and G20 meetings to be held in Huntsville, ON in June 2010, and the 2010 North American Leaders Summit.
91. The $4 million 2010 Olympics Security Coordination Center in Washington State is operational and will coordinate security efforts for over 40 federal, state and local agencies on the U.S. side of the U.S. – Canadian border. This facility will provide critical response efforts during the Olympic Games and beyond.
92. Whistler comes to the realization that it’s lost over 120,000 trees, acres of wetlands and numerous wildlife corridors for a three-week sporting event.
93. Whistler’s Centre for Sustainability hosts TEDxWhistler (www.ted.com) on Feb 18, 2010. Theme will be “Tourism’s Place in a Sustainable World.”
94. The 2010 Olympic motto, With Glowing Hearts becomes an integral element of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
95. Paralympic Closing Ceremony at Whistler Medals Plaza on March 21, 2010 (Whoohoo – it’s finally over!)
96. the world will have their eyes on Vancouver and Whistler for the duration of the Games
97. Canadian athletes can win gold for the first time on Canadian soil
98. 40 countries participate in the 2010 Winter Paralympics Games
99. Life gets back to normal for residents and we can drive and buy groceries without a major security presence AMEN!