Vancouver city council voted Thursday to pass new bylaws that make sweeping changes to how the city will work during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
After four hours of debate, city council voted in favour of temporary changes that will be in place from January to March of 2010. City manager Penny Ballem said it is incumbent upon the Olympic host city to be prepared.
“We have to make sure we’re ready for these Games [and] we’re not scrambling at the last minute,” she said.
Some of the changes were widely expected, like looser rules around garbage collection, allowing commercial deliveries 24 hours a day, relaxed noise restrictions and allowing restaurant patios to stay open until 1 a.m.
However, the law also cracks down on graffiti and advertising, bans leaflets and posters near Olympic sites and calls for security screenings at some city-run events…
But critics like Am Johal, with the Impact on Communities Coalition, say some of those changes are a violation of their rights. “It ascribes a greater value on protecting corporate sponsors of the Olympics over free speech of citizens.”
Johal and others also question clauses that give Ballem and the city engineer extra powers during the Games, like the ability to develop bylaws on the fly without the need for council’s approval.
But Ballem said those changes are a necessary tool. “I think there has to be an element of trust that council has that we will make good decisions,” she said.
How would like the Mayor and his minions to “develp bylaws on the fly without the need for council’s approval”?
Folks, this is what happens when the games come to town. Common sense, financial sanity and civil rights are all sent packing.