Islanders’ reactions mixed one year before the Olympics

  • Feb. 9, 2009 6:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–From indifference to excitement, islanders have a mixed bag of feelings about the 2010 Olympics. Thursday (Feb. 12) marks the start of the countdown – one year to the day until the Vancouver Olympics begin. Lots of events are happening on the islands and across the province to mark their coming.And many islanders are planning ahead to November 3 when the Olympic Torch Relay touches down here. What’s the consensus among islanders about the Olympics? Waste of money or a great celebration? There may be no consensus (surprise, surprise), but islanders do have opinions. We surveyed a handful at random. Here’s what they had to say.Tammy Atwell, Masset: “I’m excited because there is finally one in Canada and it’s close by,” she said. She loves all the sports and her children, although not as hyped as her, like watching them too. “When the Olympics are on, my TV is on.”Alfred Adams, Old Massett, age 50: “It’s kind of neat, but I don’t know if they have to go to that extent to host it,” he says. He thinks the games are expensive to hold and go see and he doesn’t think islanders will see any benefits. That said, he likes watching some of the crazy sports like bobsledding as well as the skiing and snowboarding. “I’ve done it once in a while myself and know how much training it takes [to ski].”Ron Brown, Old Massett, age 51: “You’re not going to see Canada’s best at the Olympics,” he says. “People never get on the radar from small rural areas.” He’s concerned about the resources spent on the Olympics, when so many small towns don’t even have any recreation facilities. But he’ll take his kids to participate in the islands’ Torch Relay events when they happen in November.Autumn Gates, Masset, age 36: “I think it’s great for BC’s economy. But there are ups and downs.” She’s heard on the news about problems in Vancouver with homelessness and the drugs downtown, but she thinks they’ll have things figured out by the time the games begin.Jonathon Ebbs, Tow Hill Road, age 36: “For kids, it bumps up the level of what they might aspire to,” he says. But, in general, he has mixed feelings about the games. “It’s exclusionary, given the costs.” And since his family doesn’t have TV, he likely won’t be watching or following any of the sports. As for the torch relay, he’s not sure if he’ll participate, unless the three children in his household get really excited. He remembers being more in tune during the torch relay for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary when his then-girlfriend was one of the runners.Shain Olson, Sandspit, age 31: He watches the games once in a while, but has no real opinion. He will come to the Torch Relay event, though.Ronda McNeil, Sandspit, age 37: She doesn’t pay attention to the Olympics. “No, I don’t watch it at all.”Carol Andrews, Tlell, over 65: “I think they should have fixed venues – one for the winter and one for the summer, then they don’t have to spend billions for each event.” Ms Andrews says spending on venues around the world is scandalous. But, “the torch coming here is wonderful for the young people to be able to participate.”Elizabeth Condrotte, Tlell, age 66: She’s on the Olympic Torch Relay committee and says they are working hard to get the islands going for the celebration. “We’re getting the schools involved and having a day for the torch,” she said. As for the Olympics, she can’t afford to go, but she loves watching the skating. She also watches Olympic hockey more than the Stanley Cup.Jessica Storry, Port Clements, age 23: She is not impressed with sports in general. “I think it’s a bunch of overpaid hype. . . Professional sports are an oxymoron,” she says. She doesn’t believe people should be paid to play games and do things that she considers a hobby.Darleen Wulff, Queen Charlotte, age 28: She’s excited the Olympics will be in Vancouver, but the fact that she won’t be there to enjoy it dampens her enthusiasm. As for the local torch relay event, she might go, but she is nervous around crowds. That said, she’d go to the games in Vancouver if someone got her tickets, accommodation and made sure her daycare was looked after.Lon Sharp, Queen Charlotte, age 62: “It’s a show of spirit. The Olympic spirit is all about people trying to be the best they can be,” he says. The Olympics may not be a pivotal point in his life, but he thinks it’s something to get people focused beyond their own small problems. As for the Torch Relay, Lon thinks the day will be an opportunity for all islanders to rendezvous around the symbol of the torch.Betsy Cardell, Queen Charlotte, age 62: She’s on the committee that is partnering with VANOC on the Torch Relay. “I’m really excited about the local event that will be ours.” It’s still in the developmental stage, she said but it will be an opportunity for islanders to celebrate themselves. “We need to know what our communities want. I’d like to see plans form from the bottom up. The networking has begun.”