Broken Promises

To get the 2010 Winter Games, the Vancouver Olympic partners made some bold promises — good promises — about creating a positive social and environmental legacy. The problem is, they’re not keeping those promises.

There are four Vancouver 2010 partners: the Vancouver Organizing Committee (“VANOC”), the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia, and the Government of Canada.

As part of Vancouver’s Olympic bid, they promised to:

  • Create an affordable housing legacy
  • Protect rental housing
  • Make sure homelessness doesn’t increase
  • Make sure poor residents are not involuntarily displaced, evicted or subject to unreasonable rent hikes as a result of the Games

In March 2007, the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s own “Inner-City Inclusive Housing Table” made a series of unanimous recommendations about how to meet these promises.

Their recommendations included:

  • Build 3,200 units of social (non-market) housing by 2010
  • Eliminate barriers to getting welfare (income assistance) that make people homeless
  • Increase welfare rates by 50%
    [Download the report for more information]

So what are the Olympic partners doing about it?

So far, the Canadian (federal) government has done nothing to help keep these promises.

The Government of British Columbia took actions that increased poverty and homelessness — at the very time these Olympic legacy promises were being developed. Since then, it has taken some baby steps. It put a little more money into building emergency shelters. It increased welfare rates by a small amount for some people. And it bought some properties in the Downtown Eastside that, if funding is made available, could be used to build social housing. [Read more about the ICI recommendations versus what really happened.]

These are baby steps. What’s needed are bold strides. The BC government has billions of dollars in surplus money — money it collects in taxes but isn’t spending on needed services.

You can take action and help pressure the Olympic partners to make good on their promises.

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Article: Vancouver’s Olympic Challenge
City Faces Pressure to Fulfill Social Pledges That Helped It Win 2010 Winter Games

By Doug Struck, Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 23, 2007; Page A11

Olympic Oversight Interim Report Card, Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition

Still waiting at the altar: Vancouver 2010’s on-again, off-again, relationship with social sustainability, Speech to COHRE Expert Workshop on Protecting and Promoting Housing Rights in the Context of Mega Events, Geneva, Switzerland, on June 15, 2007

Fast analysis of BC government announcement on October 12, 2007:
“Breaking the cycle of homelessness”

By Jean Swanson, Carnegie Community Action Project