Sechelt Torch Relay

February 1st, 2010-->

On Saturday, January 30 more than 100 participants, including Sunshine Coasters of all ages and walks of life, joined the Troubled Times Troubadours and Poverty Olympics Torch Walkers as we made our way on Cowrie Street.

Some participants carried decorated plungers, the official Poverty Olympics torch, while others played musical instruments and participants of all ages sang original verses and a rousing chorus with the talented Troubled Times Troubadours.

Through the spirited musical verses, a snapshot of poverty in our community and across BC was featured:- BC has the highest child poverty rate and the lowest minimum wage in Canada;- more than 2,900 people are poor on the Coast and more than 13% of the residents in Sechelt (over 1,120 people) struggle to survive on a low income;- 84 homeless people living on the Sunshine Coast had to rely on the Extreme Weather Shelter beds in Gibsons in 2008/09; and- there were 5,804 visits to the Sunshine Coast Food Bank in the first six months of 2009, a 37% increase from 2008.Reducing poverty — The Next Critical Steps?

If our governments put the same attention to ending poverty and homelessness as they are to holding the Olympics, B.C could:

1. build 2,000 new units of social housing each year plus assisted living for low-income seniors, people with disabilities and/or mental illnesses;

2. raise welfare rates to reflect an adequate living standard and remove the barriers that keep people in desperate situations; and

3. raise the minimum wage to $10/hour and end the $6 training wage.

The 2010 Poverty Olympics Torch Relay is making its way through a number of communities in B.C.

Enjoy the photos and check out the participants’ awesome homemade torches here.


Media Advisory: 2010 Poverty Olympics Torch Arrives in Whistler

January 30th, 2010-->

Come to Whistler Village to celebrate the arrival of the Poverty Olympics Torch Relay, a province-wide journey emphasising the devastating reality of poverty and homelessness within communities throughout BC:

- watch the Poverty Olympic mascots – Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach, and Chewy the Rat – ski and snowboard in the Torch Relay down the slopes of Whistler Mountain

- see local residents try and beat Gordon Campbell blocking every effort to end poverty in BC in the “Slapshots to End Poverty” hockey game

- find out about the impacts of the Olympics on the community of Whistler and its residents

When: 2:00 pm Sunday, January 31

Where: base of Whistler Blackcomb

Torchbearers Needed for Poverty Olympics Torch Relay through Metro Vancouver

January 27th, 2010-->

Torchbearers in the first ever Torch Relay through Metro Vancouver will walk with the 10-foot Poverty Olympic Torch from Langley to Vancouver. This journey will take place from February 2 to 7 through ten communities and is the last stage of the province-wide Poverty Olympics Torch Relay. Its purpose is to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness within Metro Vancouver, and to build media and public support for the Poverty Olympics on Feb. 7.

The relay needs only 3 people per day, each walking for 3 hours (6km) on sidewalks, highway shoulder, or lane where necessary. When the Torch reaches the centre of each municipality there will be a short Community Celebration involving engagement with local residents: leafletting, a hockey shoot-out game (“Shoot to End Poverty”), photos with mascots (Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach, Chewy the Rat), and more. Volunteers are needed for the Relay and the Community Celebrations. Please contact Trish at if you are interested in taking part or for more details about the route and schedule.

Municipalities included: Langley, Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Deep Cove, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Vancouver

Major routes: Fraser Highway (Langley), 56th Ave. (Langley/Surrey), King George Highway (Surrey), Patullo Bridge, Columbia St. and 6th St. (New West.), Kingsway, Willingdon and Lougheed Hwy (Burnaby), North Road (Coquitlam), Marine Drive (North and West Van), Lions Gate Bridge, Georgia, Hastings (Vancouver).

Right to the City Forum Highlights Economic and Social Costs

January 27th, 2010-->

The Olympics are bringing privatized profit and socialized debt to Vancouver - that was the message at Monday night’s forum on the economics of the Olympics. The presenters were Seth Klein from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Cecily Nicholson from the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre, Blair Redlin of CUPE, Micheal Vonn from the BC Civil Liberties Association, and Chris Shaw from the Olympic Resistance Network.

Chris Shaw emphasized that the real costs of the Olympics will never be known, and he explained some of the complexities of funding - for example a security budget that involves local police, the RCMP, the military, border guards and of course private security. And what about accounting for all of those hours spent on Olympic related work by government employees who would otherwise be doing other important work?

Cecily Nicholson emphasized the impact on the social services sector, and how non-profit organizations will be picking up the pieces post Olympics with budget cuts that have already happened and more anticipated in the March provincial and federal budgets. “Silent and undemocractic” changes are impacting the sector; for example, multi-year contracts are now a rare occurance and organizations are forced to reapply for funding from year to year with no core funding and no opportunity for long term planning.

Many social services organizations are unable to advocate for themselves and the clients that they represent for fear of being reprimanded through funding cuts.  In addition, the Olympics are bringing even more clients to these already stretched services, as women’s centres are being advertised as available services to tourists.

Seth Klein talked about the economic assessments that have been produced for these Olympics, and how assessments look better when more money is spent. Going overbudget looks good in an economic assessment (the way an earthquake improves a country’s GDP because of all the funds spent on recovery). Regardless, the most recent economic assessment was inconclusive about the benefits of the games.  Seth also noted that ALL government spending will have a positive impact on the GDP and employment figures - mega-events like the Olympics aren’t necessary for growth.  Spending on social services and other measures to decrease inequality would also result in positive economic growth.

Poverty Olympics Torch Relay Hits Nelson

January 25th, 2010-->

On Saturday, the Nelson Chapter of the Council of Canadians held “An Alternative 2010 Torch Relay” at Nelson City Hall Plaza in solidarity with all our sisters and brothers who have been negatively impacted by the 2010 Olympics. This includes our indigenous peoples on whose unceded territory the Olympics are being held; those working in education, health care and social services whose jobs have been lost due to budget cuts; women, children, seniors and the homeless who have been further marginalized because of funding cutbacks; and the arts community which also has been negatively affected.

More from the Torch Relay Launch

January 18th, 2010-->

News Release:

Speech from the Launch of the Poverty Olympics Torch Relay

Homelessness in British Columbia (by city/municipality)

Poverty Rates in British Columbia (by city/municipality)

Photos from the Torch Relay Press Conference and Launch

Report from the Launch: Poverty Olympics Torch Relay Launch Emphasizes Struggles Around the Province


Media coverage:

Homeless stage an Olympic torch relay to raise awareness of plight
People’s Daily Online/Xinhua News Agency, January 18

Anti-poverty activists launch Olympic-style torch relay to highlight concerns
The Canadian Press, January 17
(Featured in the The Kamloops Daily News, Coast Reporter (Sunshine Coast, BC), Winnipeg Free Press, Guelph Mercury, The Moose Jaw Times Herald, Metro News Halifax,, NewsTalk 1010, and more!)

Housing advocates unimpressed by VANOC charity
CTV News, January 17

Poverty Olympics torch relay begins
News 1130, January 17

Poverty Olympics Torch Relay begins
CKNW, January 18

The 2010 “Poverty Olympics” Coming
Vancouver Sun, January 19

2010 Poverty Olympics Torch Relay underway

Torch Relay Launch - Friday, January 15

January 15th, 2010-->

MEDIA ADVISORY - Friday, January 15


Come to a press conference/action to:

  • celebrate the start of the 2010 Poverty Olympics Torch Relay, a province-wide journey emphasising the devastating reality of poverty and homelessness within communities throughout BC;
  • watch a roller hockey game featuring the Poverty Olympics mascots – Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach, and Chewy the Rat – followed by a simulation of the Relay with the 10-foot high Poverty Olympics Torch;
  • hear organisers and Official Sponsors speak out about BC’s shameful poverty record.

When: 1:00 pm Sunday, January 17
Where: Olympic Countdown clock near the Vancouver Art Gallery

The poor are getting poorer

January 15th, 2010-->

Data from Statistics Canada shows that, while richer families benefitted enormously from a strong economy in the first half of the last decade, the poorest Canadians have not seen a comparable increase in income.

Family units in the top fifth of wealth distribution saw their median net worth increase by 28.5% from 1999 to 2005. In contrast, the bottom fifth of families saw their net worth decrease by 9.1% during the same period. Lower income Canadians also saw their debt load increase faster than the wealthiest families.

Economic inequality is a growing problem in Canada. In 2005, Canadian families had a total net worth of nearly $5 million, with $3.4 million belonging to the wealthiest 20% of families. The poorest 20% had a total net worth of -$6,300, and even next quintile only held $110,000 of the total wealth of Canadian families.

You can find out more about the growing income gap at

Activists unveil Olympics schedule

January 15th, 2010-->

The Downtown Eastside Justice for All Network has announced the following events:

Jan. 22 - A protest at Vancouver City Hall against the gentrification of the Downtown Eastside.

Feb. 7 - The 2010 Poverty Olympics at the Japanese Hall on Alexander Street. Calling it “free family fun with a conscience,” organizers say the Poverty Games will include events like Welfare Hurdles and Skating Around Poverty.

Feb. 14 - An annual memorial march honouring missing and murdered women is planned to start at Main and Hastings Streets.

Feb. 15 - A protest the activists called an “action against homelessness” at a location yet to be disclosed.

Feb. 20 - A rally by the Olympic clock outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in support of a national housing program.

Read more about it on

Will Vancouver meet Olympic promise of helping the poor?

January 15th, 2010-->

From the Seattle Times:

A few days before the official Games begin, advocates for the poor will stage a “Poverty Olympics,” aiming to push the city’s social problems into the spotlight.

Read this article.