Thursday, December 17, 2009

An ode to VANOC sustainability: reprise

'Twas 69 days before the Olympics, when all through the yard,
Not a creature was stirring, except for a guard.
The VANOC General Motors fleet parked with care,
In hopes that drivers soon would be there.

VANOC's main vehicle commissioning and decommissioning lot in Richmond.

Paint the town red, believe what you're told,
Canadians wait for their first home-won gold.
This is the Greenest Olympics Ever, don't be wrong.
Says the Premier, the Mayor and John Furlong

If you're a skeptic and need proof,
Come here, see the rippling roof.
On federal government port land
by the large Lafarge cement plant.
At the south foot of Richmond's No. 8 Road,
Where VANOC cars, SUVs, trucks and buses are stowed.
Among heated trailers and large peaked tents,
From a company called Karl's Events.

Diesel-powered generator.

The sun was bright and high,
In the brilliant Saturday morning, blue sky.
Gave midday lustre to the vehicles below,
For a deserted Olympic auto show.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
Diesel generators and floodlighting gear!
One, two, three, four.
Five six and more,
Scattered around the site,
So shiny and bright!
Spewing smoky pollution and exhaust,
But at what financial and environmental cost?
Who really cares what it all does mean,
Didn't you hear, the 2010 Olympics will be green!

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, creator of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas).

More lights, but no action at VANOC lot in Richmond.

VAN-Rock rolls into the Commodore

If those party-crashing Salahis were in Vancouver tonight, I know where they would be.

The Commodore Ballroom on the Granville Mall.

Canada's best music hall is hosting the VANOC Christmas Party. It's called VAN-Rock. Get it? Apparently members of the 2010 Winter Olympics' organization will be performing on stage while their cohorts will be bouncing on the famed floor and drinking Molson Canadian, Coors Light and the plonk produced by Vincor.

Bootleggers -- please send your MP3s to

Wonder if the bilingual police from Ottawa will show up to regulate the lyrical content of the music/musique?

Binner opens can of whoopass on UFC and UWC day at Vancouver city hall

Once upon a time, they were called scavengers.

In politically correct Vancouver, city hall calls them "binners" and their activity is called "binning."

To me, there is only one Binning in B.C. and that is B.C. Binning, the great artist.

Maybe it's some bureaucrat's play on words, because most of the so-called "binners" are also "aint's." As in "ain't got no home, no job."

While gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded during the 2010 Winter Olympics, 68 scavengers, er, um, binners will get steady work collecting aluminum, glass and plastic, thanks to a Dec. 17 decision by Vancouver city council.

The non-profit United We Can is getting $50,000 for an Olympic version of its Urban Binning Unit Cart Program to supply binners with customized recycling carts. Surely someone at VANOC will wave this in the air as proof that the Inner City Inclusive Commitment Statement is being fulfilled. Sustainability in action, they'll say.

Some 250 temporary recycling receptacles will be installed in public places to collect the Olympic beverage containers. MolsonCoors and Coca-Cola, two sponsors who will be generating much of that waste, were notably absent. Wonder if city hall even asked? Both companies are being protected by the city's anti-ambush marketing bylaws.

The decision wasn't popular with one independent scavenger unhappy with what appears to be the growing UWC dominance of the scavenging trade. Frederick Tourney, who already got his free five minutes, voiced his outrage when the grant was approved.

"You just stole everything from the poorest of the poor... you stole from the crippled, the poor… you people are sick puppies! Why don't you guys come and follow us for one day, you wouldn't be able to!" Tourney shouted.

"It's called stealing our bottles. We don't get a choice to participate now. Way to go guys. We get nothing. Sick puppies. We get nothing, we get cut out of the whole damn thing!"

The city's Olympic operations general manager Peter Judd was standing nearby in the council chamber and quietly invited Tourney to speak with him in the lobby. The elderly Tourney proceeded to give Judd a two-handed push not once, but twice.

Judd lost his balance and nearly fell over, but didn't retaliate. There was no security guard on-duty at the city council chamber.

This incident happened the same day that city council okayed next June's Vancouver debut of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Vancouver councillor plays the markets

Coun. Tim Stevenson has an interesting disclosure statement. Wonder why none of the Olympic Resistance Networkers who have appeared before city council have never noticed this.

His Jan. 15, 2009 form -- which is on the city's website -- says he holds shares in Bell Aliant Regional Communication Trust, Bombardier Inc. and Teck Cominco. That's a hat-trick of VANOC sponsors. City hall does business with Bell and Bombardier.

Not only that, but it also says Stevenson's assets include shares in Canadian Oil Sands Trust.

Canadian Oil Sands Trust? Oil sands? Isn't that the favourite target of environmentalists around the world? I thought Vision Vancouver, the party to which Stevenson belongs, was all about green energy. This is the Green Capital, isn't it?

Lululemon 1 VANOC 0

Chip Wilson is no dumb dude.

The Kitsilano surfer and clothing tycoon founded Lululemon Athletica in 1998 and carved a lucrative niche with yoga-style sportswear targeted to twentysomething women.

The company -- listed on NASDAQ (lulu) and TSX (lll) -- is known for controversial, headline-catching marketing gimmicks. Remember when it offered free clothes to the first 30 customers who showed up at stores in their underwear in 2005? Remember when it claimed its clothes contained stress-relieving seaweed in 2007? (The New York Times debunked that one.)

On Dec. 9 its latest quarterly results showed revenue of $112.9 million (compared to $87 million for the same period a year earlier) and a profit of $20.9 million.

Just in time for Christmas -- and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics -- Lululemon launched its "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011" winter clothing line on Dec. 14. It includes toques, hooded sweatshirts and T-shirts in colours of Canada, United States, Sweden and Germany. No Olympic trademarks were harmed in the design or manufacture of the duds.

That cool sporting event in B.C. is not the B.C. Lions temporary move to their original field at Empire Stadium. It's the 2010 Winter Olympics and the organizing committee played right into Lululemon's clever strategy.

In what was supposed to be an attempt to protect its brand and that of official clothing retailer Hudson's Bay Company, a prepared statement was issued Dec. 15 by VANOC commercial rights manager Bill Cooper.

"We expected better sportsmanship from a local Canadian company than to produce a clothing line that attempts to profit from the Games but doesn't support the Games or the success of the Canadian Olympic team," Cooper said.

So, with just over one shopping week left until Christmas, the score is Lululemon 1 VANOC 0 because the world now knows where they can buy the "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011" products.

Wonder if anyone at VANOC owns Lululemon shares?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sooner or Purolator you'll get your tickets

Purolator is the 91% Canada Post-owned courier company that is also the official courier company of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

A courier company, by its very nature, is supposed to offer faster, higher-quality service than a post office. I might as well have been at a Canada Post outlet Tuesday night to pick up a package of Olympic tickets. I wasn't home when delivery was attempted on Monday.

There already was a lineup when I arrived at the Lonsdale outlet in North Vancouver around 6:20 p.m.

One staffer was so mesmerized by her paperwork and data entry duties at the front desk that she did not even acknowledge the growing lineup. The one employee who was handling customers disappeared for up to five minutes behind-the-scenes with customers' photo identification and the door-hanger left by the delivery driver to retrieve their ticket packages. A manager not wearing a Purolator uniform eventually showed up at the desk to handle other customers.

Idle chatter among the lineup, which grew to eight people, concluded that everyone was attempting to pick-up Olympic tickets. VANOC set a mandatory minimum $10 charge on ticket deliveries through Purolator. One middle-aged woman approached the staffer on paperwork and data entry duties and politely asked why she wasn't helping serve those lined-up and was greeted with a rude response: "I have work to do!"

I finally got my package and was out the door by 6:35 p.m. Clearly one Purolator outlet is not ready for the prime-time crush of Olympic ticket-holders and the experience only added to the frustration many have felt in their quest to get tickets to witness first-hand the Games they're already funding through their taxes.

Tell me your Olympic ticket purchase experiences: or

Monday, December 14, 2009

Paul and Pechstein: peas in a pod?

It's not something Ingrid Paul wanted to deal with on her birthday. And it's not something that speedskating needed on the road to Vancouver 2010.

The Speedskating Canada coach, who was born in Gouda, Netherlands, turned 45 on Monday amid allegations that she conspired to bribe a Polish speedster at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics.

The Royal Dutch Skating Union and Netherlands Olympic Committee are investigating Katarzyna Wojcicka's claim that she was offered 50,000 Euros not to race the 5,000 km event. The allegation was broadcast Dec. 13 on NOS TV, the Dutch public broadcasting company. It includes archival footage from Torino 2006. Read the NOS story in English and watch the investigative report here.

Had Wojcicka quit, Gretha Smit of the Netherlands would have stepped in because she was the first alternate. Paul was Smit's coach.

"Where would I have got the money from?" Paul said, according to "And as far as I am aware, the sponsor did not offer any money either."

Canada's Clara Hughes was first, Wojcicka was last among the 16-skater field.

The allegations follow the last pre-Olympic world cup meet in Salt Lake City, site of the 2002 Games. Among the competitors was German Claudia Pechstein, who set world records in the 3,000 and 5,000 metre races at the last North American Olympics.

She finished a distant 13th in Friday's women's 3,000 m, just behind Canada's Cindy Klassen who is struggling to return from double knee surgery. It was five-time Olympic gold medalist Pechstein's first meet of the season after a positive doping test in February meant a two-year ban from the sport. It was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the Swiss federal court gave her the green light to compete in Salt Lake while her final appeal is pending.

Coincidentally, Pechstein is a police officer and the Vancouver 2010 anti-doping laboratory is located inside the Richmond Olympic Oval speedskating arena.

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