Saturday, February 20, 2010

They said it couldn't be done = Olympic Bil-Duh-Bare Pavilion

In the big rush to find things to criticize at the Vancouver Olympics, not much has been overlooked.

Certainly the Canada Pavilion has taken a couple of pot shots, even though the feds did their best to hide this embarrassment as carefully as possible (it only opened after the games had begun...).

It has been called everything from "rinky-dink" to a "temporary tent" to "an ugly pre-fab dud". And for good reason. It is, to be sure, temporary, and looks like nothing more than a chintzy shed with large graphics plastered all over it.

The eyesore cost $10 million and we had to get it slapped up by some Chicago outfit. Those economic impacts are really spreading far and wide...

The facility was originally heralded by organizers with plenty of gusto... "In a downtown celebration site in Vancouver the federal government will erect a Canada Pavilion during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), announced last weekend.
The $10 million, world-class pavilion will showcase Canadian athletes and culture to the world. Amid the excitement of hosting an Olympic Games, the Canada Pavilion will be a major focal point for Canadian fans and for visitors around the world to learn about the amazing innovations and heritage in Canada."

However reality has been less than impressive and less than world-class. Some pundits are going so far as to suggest that the federal government doesn't have a clue what they're doing, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

For my take, I find that our Canadian pavilion building expertise reminds me a lot of the Build-A-Bear Workshop. That most fantastical wonderland, in power centres and malls across Canada and the U.S, where your kids can watch a sad-looking toy get the stuffing knocked into it right in front of their eyes and then take it home with them, all for about $43.50. How can you tell I was not any more impressed with Build-A-Bear Workshop than I am with the Bil-Duh-Bare Pavilion?

The waste of it all is rather astounding. But, rather than just be a critic, I wanted to offer something constructive, so here's what I would suggest next time....

Give the $10 million to Habitat for Humanity or their Canadian equivalent. Tell them they have to put up something good and take it apart after it's over and they get to keep all the leftover cash and everything they can salvage. End result: Canada Pavilion rocks and what probably something like 50 underprivileged families get houses built...


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