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29 days to go – Vancouver Walkabout Round 2

January 14, 2010

My goodness it was a busy day!  I managed to fit in one heckuva lot of things, though walkabouts do tend to do that.  But my day started a bit earlier than the walkabout so that is where I’ll begin.

I met with Kerstin from the Vancouver German House (Deutsches Haus) again today and it was really lovely to see her again.  To me we seem like kindred souls.  Both very supportive and enthusiastic about the Olympics.  I am endlessly fascinated by her involvement with the German House both here in Vancouver and in 2008 in Beijing.  I think I would like the opportunity to help represent my country at international events around the world.  It seems like it would be a very fulfilling career.  Kerstin also very kindly brought me another SFU Community Contributor pin which I traded her for a Canada-Germany Vancouver 2010 pin.  I had tried to persuade her to trade it with one of the pin traders at the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre as I know there’s interest in them, but she doesn’t want to collect or trade, nor be tempted to so trading with me suited her fine and has provided me with an interesting pin to trade (I had already been given one SFU by Kerstin which is already safe in my collection!).

At noon I met with Patti and Keith (both of whom are also Olympic volunteers) at the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre to start our Vancouver 2010 Venue walkabout.  Everyone was celebrating ’30 days to go’ so the pin trading centre was quite busy and it took us a little bit to make it out of there.  We started by heading to Robson Square to find out about the Transportation Game Plan.  There were some displays about the plan in the 2010 Commerce Centre Hosting area and several participants were there to discuss their role including VANOC, the City of Vancouver, Translink, the Vancouver Police and the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.  To find out more on how to get around during Games-time we were advised to check both the TravelSmart2010 and the Translink websites.  This is important to know as there definitely will be some changes to everyone’s regular routes through the area and in downtown Vancouver in particular.  But for me, the best part of visiting the Game Plan was getting to talk to Cpl. Manon Chouinard and Barbara MacInnis from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit V2010ISU.

I have wanted to talk to members of the V2010ISU for quite a while.  The Unit is made up of members from many different organisations including the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the Vancouver Police, the Department of Defense, and many other groups all of whom are working together to ensure that Vancouver 2010 is safe and successful.  I have often been frustrated by media coverage of the V2010ISU as it tends to be quite negative, but I was sure that the people that make up this team, no matter their background, chose to be part of the team because they believe in the Olympic spirit.  I was more than surprised, and caught a little off-guard, to be invited to interview Cpl. Chouinard.  After scrounging for a pen and some paper (I really need to work on my reporting basics!) I managed to get some questions in.

Cpl. Chouinard has been a cop for more than 24 years and was most recently working on Vancouver Island before becoming one of the first 8 members of the V2010ISU four years ago.  She loves the Olympics and has great respect for the athletes.  While in Beijing for the Summer 2008 Games she had the opportunity to watch the Canadian Men’s 8 Rowing team win the Gold Medal and is still visibly moved by the experience.  She has always been proud to wear the red serge as an RCMP officer but was thrilled to meet our wonderful Canadian athletes and amazed that they would be thrilled to stand next to her.  Thank you’s from Olympic athletes have been a very special part of her work with Vancouver 2010.  I asked how she felt about some of the negative things reported about security with the Games and her answer will stay with me forever.  She believes that there are many dark places in the world, where people are at war with one another but when athletes and teams come to the Olympics those dark parts are put to the side.  The athletes will compete fiercely with one another, but with sportsmanship, and when the competition is over they may find themselves standing beside a person on the street or on a podium that would, anywhere else in the world, be an enemy, but here… here they are part of more, and they will shake hands, congratulate one another, and maybe even hug.  For that Cpl. Chouinard will not let any negativity take away her passion for protecting these Games.  I am so grateful that we have people like Cpl. Chouinard involved in Vancouver 2010.  Thank you so much, to Cpl. Chouinard, Ms. MacInnis and all of the members of the V2010ISU.

This was really the highlight of my day.  But then, it was a pretty darned great day so there is of course a lot more.  This was just the first stop!  From Robson Square we made our way to the Royal Bank at Georgia and Burrard to check out the new decorations going up.  I took the opportunity to pop inside and get some of the Olympic Moment’s #3 quarter featuring Cyndi Klassen’s 5 Olympic Medals in Torino, and I am very glad I did!  Inside the branch there was a map of the Torch Relay route.  Patti noticed that someone had been painstakingly tracing the completed route portions with ribbon.  When we first looked it was a few days behind, but by the time I finished getting my quarters there was a young man at the map with ribbon and tape in his hands.  We asked if we could take a photo and he agreed and then went to get us some cards.  Well… he handed us cards with his face on them… we were talking to Olympic athlete Mark Johnston!  Mark competed in both Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 in swimming and is a 14-time National Champion.  The cards were made by RBC as part of their sponsorship of athletes such as Mark.  It was a real treat to randomly meet and Olympic athlete, and I’m very happy that he let us know.  As an Olympic athlete Mark will be carrying the Olympic Torch on January 24th in Grand Forks.  We wish him all the best!

Olympic athlete Mark Johnston marking the Olympic Torch Relay map in the Royal Bank at Georgia and Burrard (photo: Patti Jackson).

From the Royal Bank we went down to the Main Media Centre which is now open to the accredited media.  The fences are decorated how all of the Venue fences will be decorated and it really creates a nice festive atmosphere.  We liked it in this area.  From the Main Media Centre we walked into Gastown, stopped by Hudson House for a quick peak at the pins 🙂 .  We met Andrew here and he joined in with the tour for a while; I was thrilled to have another along for the walk!  We walked through Gastown and onto the Carrall Street Greenway which leads directly to Concord Place.  The Ontario Pavilion is looking wonderful from the outside and it looks as if Molson Canadian Hockey House, the Saskatchewan Pavilion and Maison du Quebec aren’t far behind!  We visited the Concord Pacific display suite, as I love their 3D model of downtown (currently under construction, it will be updated in the next couple of days).

The fence and flags outside the Main Media Centre (photo: Patti Jackson).

Keith, Patti and I outside the Main Media Centre. We looked a bit like tourists in our own town but we had a great day!

Sneeking a peek at the stage to the west of the Main Media Centre (photo: Patti Jackson).

Myself, Andrew and Keith on the SeaWall by Concord Place (photo: Patti Jackson).

From Concord Place we walked past the LiveCity Yaletown site, which really appears to be coming together.  It looks like most, if not all, of the tents are up and they’re starting to get decorated.  We walked along a portion of the pedestrian corridor between the two LiveCity sites, before veering off, peering in the windows of the US Olympic House and stopping for food at Doolin’s – the Irish Olympic House!  After a snack (it sounds small when I say ‘snack’ doesn’t it? The meals are huge at Doolin’s!) we walked back to the Olympic Superstore and the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre so that we could see the reveal of the 30-days-to-go pin, do some trading and try to win some pins.  I did win one in a trivia contest, which was great, and I got quite a lot of trading in.  I even got to meet Jenn from Atos Origin finally!  So lovely!  Patti did better in the pin win department, with 5 pins and a bottle of Coca-Cola.  And the big winner of the night?  Dennis Taylor won a complete set of the 13 province and territory Coca-Cola Torch Relay pins.  This is appropriate as Dennis is apparently one of the biggest Coca-Cola pin collectors in the world.  The pin sets on the wall of the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre are all on loan from him.  Pretty neat!  It was a great night and a really great day!

Inukshuks by False Creek with Science World which will be Russia's Sochi 2014 House during the Games (photo: Patti Jackson).

The Coca-Cola tent at the LiveCity Yaletown site.

Patti with her 5 new pins!

Paul presenting Dennis with the full 13 pin set of Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Relay province and territory pins.

I should get to sleep, but thought I’d mention that Walkabout Round 3 is currently being planned for Thursday, January 21.  There has been a suggestion made of making it a SkyTrain/Canada Line based trip but I’m open to suggestions and requests.  I’ll try to put something more concrete together in the next few days, but it will depend on who is coming and what they’d like to see.  No feedback and I’ll just choose 😀 .  Goodnight, bonsoir!

PS – Don’t forget to send in photos of your Vancouver 2010 spirit!  You could win a pin!

Pins that I traded, was given, or won today! Wine pins from Rob. RBC man from Carol (I love, love, love this pin!). Coca-Cola pins from Kai. SFU pin from Kerstin. GE pin from Jenn. It was a busy day!

These aren't from today, but they're new. Merritt gave me the very cool oversize Torch pin from the USA before Christmas, thanks Merritt! And the pin on the right from Molson was a fundraiser for the Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund.

My new Cold-FX 6 pin set! I won it in a pin photo contest! Thank you so much Cold-FX and H!!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    January 14, 2010 2:41 am

    Hi Andrea – I love your London VISA Pin! I’m a big London 2012 Pin fan – want to trade it with me?! Send me a mail if you do and you can hold onto it for me!

    Also – on your walk are you planning on heading down to the Media Centre – I’ve heard rumours there is some interesting construction going on!

    • Mihnea permalink
      January 14, 2010 8:20 am

      Hello Tom,

      I traded with Andrea for the London 2012 pin and it happens that I have another one. Send me an email mcirica at hotmail dot com if you still want to trade.

  2. January 14, 2010 4:33 am

    Andrea, before you trade that 2012 Visa pin with Tom, is there any chance you could send me a close up photo of the back and front for my website. If you get a second one, I’ll happily trade for that one!


  3. Tom permalink
    January 14, 2010 10:22 am

    Thanks Mihnea Great stuff! – I’ve sent you an email – post again here if you don’t receive it!

  4. Bob permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:20 pm

    Heard on CTV Newshour … the RBC wrap currently being installed will be 42,000 square feet … the largest in the world. All GM dealerships are being wrapped. Samsung is being wrapped. McDonald’s are being wrapped. The company doing all the wrapping is a home town company! By the way, the people on the inside can see through the wrap.

  5. January 14, 2010 9:24 pm

    Hey Andrea,

    Wow your days are getting fuller as the Olympics get nearer!!

    Great job on the impromptu interview Cpl. Chouinard :o)

    How humbling to see Mark Johnston marking the Olympic Torch Relay map… that should encourage the rest of us proud Canadians to do our bit to support the Vancouver 2010 games.

    Your blog is definitely a must-read for all Olympic enthusiasts.

    Thanks for posting a pic of our 6-pin pin set & more importantly for being a fan (& a friend)!


  6. January 15, 2010 3:42 pm

    Thanks Andrea for keeping us posted on the preparations in Vancouver. You make me want to be there NOW!
    I was also the winner of the 6 pin set from COLD FX and I love it! Can’t wait to meet you when I come to Vancouver, and remember you promised to write a guest post for my blog!


  7. Gary permalink
    February 25, 2010 12:49 am

    The Olympics can bring the world together better than any politician ever could


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