Revisiting Vancouver 2010.
February marks the one year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The major winter multi-sport event seen worldwide, has come and gone leaving Vancouver with more infrastructure for a fast growing population, but with much of the same problems that have plagued the city long before the Olympics came to town.
It's hard to believe that a year has passed since the world descended on Vancouver for one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. No doubt Vancouver 2010 will be remembered for the unusually warm winter weather at the time, the death of a Georgian athlete, rowdy protests, and Team Canada winning gold in Men's Hockey, but if anything the locals of Vancouver will remember how much growth the city has endured prior to the Olympic Games.
The city underwent some major changes with expansions to public transit, increasing road sizes, improving highways, and building the Canada Line Skytrain. In addition to transit, the construction of the Olympic venues took place, as well as more mid/high-rise condos around Vancouver, such as the Woodward's building, said to 'revitalize' the downtown east side area.
Years later, while all these things have added convenience to everyday life, there hasn't really been much of a revitalization around the DTES. Buildings like Woodward's, are a lot like every other condo in the city... they exist in a bubble where the world outside on the street, isn't exactly the same luxury living as in the condos themselves.
The contrast between what the city wants, and what the reality actually is, is not something that can be fixed by a sporting event. Building elitist housing, doesn't solve the problem either.
DTES, and the Olympic Village Millenium Water Properties. They are two different worlds. On one side you have a bustling area of homeless, many with mental illness, and addictions. And on the other side you basically have an empty, but wealthy community with the very best in eco-friendly sustainable energy, designed for the buildings. Not to mention with a beautiful waterfront view of False Creek, and a community center exercise facility. The finest in modern construction, and yet, when you take a walk through the Olympic Village, it's like being in a Ghost town, and you can actually imagine tumbleweed rolling by.
The above video created for the City of Vancouver, highlights the development of the Olympic Village. Funny, the video really wants to drive the point home that this is the most advanced community with a sustainable enviro-friendly design. 'The full benefits of this part of town will come in the next few years.' Yet, when I began taking pictures for The Homeless Quatchi Project, the entire area was practically dead, it was actually kinda disturbing.
Currently, there is nothing vibrant about this part of town. It felt very sterile. Because the Olympic Village is located on the False Creek bike trail, people pass by to take pictures, walk their dogs, and gawk at how nice the area is. The lonely security guard walks around the premises keeping the residence of Olympic Village safe people, or is it the buildings themselves?
While taking photos for The Homeless Quatchi Project, I was actually stopped by a few people who were curious to see what I was doing. Each person that stopped to talk had their own opinion on the Olympic Village, but all agreed that the Olympic Village isn't exactly helping the homeless situation.
Instead of allocating money to improve parts of the city of Vancouver that are truly in need of support to increase the well-being of those who are in need, all the fancy eco-friendly solutions going to a singular neighborhood, at a high price tag seems like it is only widening the gap of rich and poor in the city.
Vancouver in 2010, a short video piece of Vancouver prior to the Olympic games, filmed in late January of 2010, the film captures the growth of the city, the anticipation for the Winter Olympic Games, as well as the homeless situation all over Vancouver.
The Homeless Quatchi Project, is a series of photos taken around Vancouver, specifically from the DTES, and Millenium Water Condos (Olympic Village).
Have you ever wondered what happened to the most popular mascot from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics? Well, since the Olympics games, Quatchi has ended up on the street, unemployed, and depressed, he became an alcoholic and started experimenting with hard drugs such as crystal meth, and crack cocaine. He had to resort to theft, and panhandling to feed his addiction.
Quatchi, a sasquatch from the forests up north came to Vancouver seeking opportunity to provide for his family back home, unfortunately with no more opportunities post-Winter games, he has no where to go and can't seem to get the help he needs to better his situation.
The following images document Quatchi on his life around Vancouver.
*note the original Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Mascots were created by Meomi Design.
Quatchi tried going to a detox a few times on Cordova, to no avail. As soon as he left detox, it was back to old habits, in the DTES, shooting up, and boozing up.
Quatchi found himself stumbling around in dirty alleys, looking for his next fix.
On some days he would head to the park, and watch the time pass while buzzed.
When Quatchi runs out of money he heads to Main St. Skytrain station, to beg for some change.
Quatchi hopes one day he'll be able to live in the Olympic Village across the water.
Quatchi feels like a small guy with no money for a home. He wonders how much the giant bird display cost to make.
Quatchi walks across the fancy bridge at the Olympic Village. He thinks it's ugly, cold, and lifeless, just like the Olympic Village itself.
Quatchi hopes to one day own an electric vehicle, so he can use this charging station at the Olympic Village. Apparently, no one is using it currently. Quatchi thinks it's a waste.
With just enough money from panhandling, Quatchi decides that he should drown his sorrows in a few bottles of liquor, thanks to the Legacy Liquor that opened up at Olympic Village. One of the only businesses currently open. London Drugs is still 'COMING SOON'. What is the LEGACY of the Winter Olympics?
Quatchi takes his booze for a ride!
Fortunately, there's no one around here at the Olympic Village to bother him! He can drink in peace for now.
For more pictures from The HOMELESS QUATCHI Project, visit the AlbertArt Flickr page., and AlbertArt Facebook.
JOIN THE OFFICIAL HOMELESS QUATCHI FACEBOOK FANPAGE!!!
Feel free to spread the word of The Homeless Quatchi to all those who might be interested!
The city of Vancouver will be holding anniversary celebrations all over town this weekend February 11, and 12th. Surely it is a time to reminise about the fun times that the Olympics brought to town, but let us not forget those less fortunate.
Video taken during Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Events.