Allowing noisy and polluting recreational vehicles alongside Vancouver, British Columbia, beaches during the 2010 Winter Olympics goes against the idea of a “green” Games, say opponents to the plan.
But residents of Vancouver’s Point Grey area insist their opposition isn’t a matter of having multi-million-dollar beach-front views sullied by 365 RVs and hundreds of tourists milling around the neighborhood, according to The Canadian Press, Vancouver.
“We think it’s going to be a financial disaster,” said Phyllis Tyers, president of the North West Point Grey Home Owners’ Association.
“The answers to our questions are so vague. They have a plan but nobody knows what the plan is.”
The plan, as approved by the Vancouver park board on Monday night (July 20), is to have a B.C.-based company run the parking lots at Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks as RV sites during the Games.
It will cost $95 a night, and the fee will cover washrooms, showers, waste disposal and a free shuttle to public transit in order for people to get to Games venues.
The cost to the park board is around $270,000, said commissioner Aaron Jasper, and the potential profit is around $700,000. Only 35% occupancy is required to break even.
Tyers said the experience with other Olympic venues that have gone over budget makes her doubt the park board’s financial projections, but Jasper said city staff members aren’t just making up numbers.
“Was a complete breakdown and itemized budget presented (Monday) night to us? No.” he said.
“Some details still have to be worked out. There’s some things that we think we might at this point have to pay for but it might turn out that perhaps we don’t have to.”
Jasper said he was surprised by some of the hostility expressed toward the plan.
“We’re talking about a 2-, 2 1/2-week period. We’re not proposing to relocate the (Pacific National Exhibition) on to the beaches of Jericho.”
The idea is one of several unique approaches that the city and Olympic organizers are taking to confront a massive housing shortage for the Games.
In the entire region between Vancouver and the host mountain resort of Whistler, demand for rooms for workers and spectators far outpaces supply. One insider recently pegged the shortage at around 30,000 beds.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and organizers will be using cruise ships to house some of their staff, while homestays and private apartment rentals are also being explored for Games-related personnel. Cruise ships for spectators will also be parked at several area docks and online, people are renting their homes and apartments for thousands of dollars.
But the theme of these Games means RVs shouldn’t be part of the solution, said Tyers.
“We’re supposed to be promoting green Olympics yet you’re encouraging polluting RV vehicles to come into the city,” she said.
“I can just see a fantastic traffic jam of people coming in and out for four days.”
Tyers said the idea sets a dangerous precedent.
“I don’t believe we should be commercializing our parks and this is what that is going to be.”
Jasper said it’s a one-time only project with the best of intentions.
“We’re hosting the world, just like with Expo,” he said.