Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's to blame for this Olympic "scandal"?

Warning: You may not like the answer.

Right now there's raging fury in the city's political community. Residents of the city call into radio stations complaining about the irresponsibility of their elected representatives. City hall has received a blizzard (pun intended) of emails complaining about everything from the snow fall to the more wide reaching (and potentially damaging) Millennium loan debacle.

How could city politicians agree to hundreds of millions of dollars of financing to the Olympic Village? Who's to blame? Is it Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson? How about Sam Sullivan, Suzanne Anton, and the NPA - the folks who way back in 2007 guaranteed the development's financing? The economy - it has got to be the economy, right?

The reality is that the decision to bring the Olympics to Vancouver was voted on in a referendum and approved of by the citizens of Vancouver. The costs, prohibitive or reasonable, were an unknown crap shoot as critics of the deal made painfully clear many years ago (back when our economy was booming). Vancouverites listened to the debate and then they voted for the Olympics despite the uncertainty. Fair enough. The people had spoken and when it's all said and done, perhaps it will turn out to be a good decision after all.

However, now that everything is turning sour, many people have begun to change their minds - blasting their politicians on mismangement all the while expecting the Games be carried out with promptly, professionally and perfectly. They say, "Build the Olympic Village that I voted for and host the games in my city, but I don't want any responsibility for it."

Any workable community requires its members to take responsibility for their decisions. It's important to keep in mind that, when you get right down to it, if Vancouver were not having the games here in 2010, the Millennium development would not need to be finished (if in fact it would actually exist) on such a tight of a timeline. Indeed the entire project would remain privately developed never risking your tax dollars.

So the next time you're looking for who are responsible for this situation - if you "backed the bid", take a look in the mirror.


John Horn said...

Hi there, "Kurt". You know what this reminds me of? It's like being a roaming "barbarian" who finds his way into an expanding Civilization (maybe attracted by the "culture" or "religion" or is cajoled by a scout) in Sid Meier's "Civ IV". Maybe he moved into the city just as it was beginning to build the Pyramids. And maybe he get asked to work on 'em (directly or indirectly). Or maybe he isn't involved in the Pyramids, other than having to take the long route to work or not being able to afford your rent/mortgage because of the increased taxes on your place, as they are in a cost-relevant proximity to the Pyramids. Or maybe he has to go to war against another Civilization to raise money to finance the Pyramids. Did the barbarian vote on the Pyramids being built? No, he didn't. Is his new found citizenship to be taken as an all-encompassing endorsement of a project on which he had no input or vote? No, man. He's just a barbarian who wandered out of the woods and was interested in the cultural and community-draw of a city.

Okay, look, I'm not talking about Pyramids or barbarians. I'm talking about the Olympic Village and how it was voted on before I moved here. So, I guess I'm saying that, like my Civ IV metaphor, your mirror metaphor doesn't jive with a healthy minority of new-to-vancity members of the community. Not to mention the even bigger minority of people who voted against the Olympics.


Well said, Herr Heinrich.

Kurt Heinrich said...

Dear John - the critique is for the 64% of "barbarians" who voted to back the bid as well as the 50% of people who didn't even bother to vote in the referendum in the first place.

Loxy said...

So, seeing that I was from Edmonton, living in Montreal at the time, I am not to blame?

Sweet. :)

Kurt Heinrich said...

yeah loxy - you're scott free of blame - at least until the taxes start rolling in over the next couple years!