Housing advocates unimpressed by VANOC charity
Published Sunday, January 17, 2010 8:50PM PST
An Olympic event organized to feed homeless people in Vancouver Downtown Eastside has left a bad taste in a few activists' mouths.
VANOC employees, Olympic managers and employees of sponsors like Coca-Cola doled out 2010 servings of stew on Sunday using donated ingredients.
"The stew seems to be good because we have had some people come back for seconds," organizer Donna Wilson said. "They're pretty thankful we're here."
But Step, a Vancouver homeless man, says one day of charity won't change his view that the Olympics are not making things better for the city's homeless population.
"It's blatantly whitewashing what they've already done negatively," he said. "They're throwing these little snippets. We're talking billions of dollars and they'll put on a lunch that will cost us nothing."
On the same day, activists launched the 2010 Poverty Olympics at the Vancouver Art Gallery to demand real change, not handouts.
"Charity is not the way to go. We will never end poverty that way. The rich can keep getting richer, and they can feel good about giving some stew or some blankets," activist Wendy Pedersen said.
Organizers passed around the Poverty Olympic Torch, a plunger with some gold tinsel, and demanded that Vancouver live up to it's commitments to build more social housing.
Councillor Kerry Jang says the city is moving forward on bringing new long-term housing as well as short-term temporary solutions.
"Vancouver has a very serious homeless problem. There's still more coming. It's not just about opening permanent housing, that's two or three years away."
Jang said he's glad some people got fed by VANOC -- but that the city and the province's housing plans will be the real Olympic legacy.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward