Vancouver city council received many anti-Olympic sentiments from the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) at a meeting this morning at City Hall, finalizing in revisions to Appendix A which prohibited non-regulated signage.
The criticism came largely from the debates regarding the proposed by-law changes concerning the restrictions on signs, and financial issues stemming from the construction of the Olympic Village.
Many questions were put forth to the council, who were asked if proper cost-benefit analysis of the 2010 games had been actualized, in addition to the issue of Charter amendments regarding the by-law signage.
Two days ago, the council had a meeting and produced a report that approved of the proposed Vancouver Charter amendments regarding the signage by-law. The report stipulated that “new powers” be produced to remove graffiti, street vendor signs, and other kinds of street advertising that is not regulated by VANOC or other Vancouver Olympic-oriented committees.
ORN spokesperson Chris Shaw denounced this amendment as the “illegal signage” of the by-laws, and a challenge to civil liberties.
Amidst a list of controversial items were “Regulation of street performing and entertaining,” and “Removal of graffiti from property,” which infringe on individual liberties such as painting murals on one’s property, or the craft of street performance.
Both of these items were removed from the appendix this morning.
Another change that was contested was that there was no clear articulation of who would enforce these changes, such as the practice of removing “illegal signage” from public and private property. Director of the Olympic and Paralympic Operations Paul Henderson stated that these definitions were deliberately left “vague.”
“Identifying the issue is the language of the province, and that language will be specifically defined by the province,” said Henderson.
Where’s the money?
Earlier this month, city councilors passed a motion asking the provincial government to change the charter so that the city could borrow more money to complete the construction of the village.
Fortress Investment Inc. and Millennium Development have suffered cost overruns, and the current real estate market decline has not allowed them to continue funding the construction of the 1,100 housing units. The city of Vancouver has been paying to keep up with the construction, but their funds are expected to run out sometime in February.
Councillor Ellen Woods asked what would happen if the village wasn’t completed on time.
Ken Bayne, General Manager of Business Planning and Services, replied that it would be a $30 million penalty and a loss of affordable housing.
Anti-Olympics activist Garth Mullins insisted that “not enough notice” has been given to Vancouverites over the terms of housing at Whistler Village, and that the entire 2010 operation’s interests are tied to VANOC rather than the public.
The ORN stresses a one-third strategy to Olympic housing: a third affordable housing, a third low-end housing, and a third at market value.
“When the Olympics are over, I don’t want Vancouver to be left with a bunch of yuppie condos,” Mullins said.
Councilor David Cadman had a similar reaction to the dual vagueness and financial uncertainty of the Olympic project. “Are we going to have by-laws enforced by corporate interests?” he asked council.