Monday, February 09, 2009

The Poverty Olympics?

Anti-poverty activists in Vancouver staged a demonstration over the weekend. The protest was called the "Poverty Olympics" because of the 2010 Olympic Games coming to the city.

The march was held to shed light on the homeless problem in Vancouver. The event also called attention to the fact that the billions being spent on the Olympics could better be spent on the homeless and those in poverty.

Writer for the Globe and Mail, Mark Hume was present at the demonstration.

They have their own Olympic mascots - Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach and Chewy the Rat - their own torch, made from a toilet plunger, and a catchy marketing phrase: "End poverty. It's not a game."

But what the Poverty Olympics doesn't have is money - and that was the main point being underscored yesterday by a celebration/protest march through the Downtown Eastside.

About 200 people joined in the parade down East Hastings Street as the Poverty Olympics, an event that serves as a rallying point for low-income advocacy groups, marked the one-year countdown to the 2010 Olympic Games.

The event was organized by several non-profit groups to draw attention to the way governments are spending billions of dollars on the Olympic Games even while intense poverty can be found in the Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood that will be one of the main urban backdrops to the sporting spectacle.

"If the money that was spent on the Olympics was spent on ending poverty and homelessness, we could end poverty and homelessness. It would be that simple," said Jean Swanson of the Carnegie Community Action Project, an advocacy agency for the poor.

The 2010 Olympics will open and close with ceremonies at BC Place Stadium, just a few blocks from the southern edge of the Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods.

The government of British Columbia has estimated the cost of the Games at about $600-million, but a report by the provincial Auditor-General has put it at about $2.5-billion.

1 comment:

toronto real estate said...

"End poverty. It's not a game." That's a good one. But has anyone considered another solution - spend less on the Olympics? Why does is have to cost anything between $600 million and $2.5 billion? Why does sport have to be so costly? If they only spent half of the proposed cost the other half on helping out the poor, everyone would be happy. I think.