Vancouver View - Stadium Endangering Worker Safety; Security Housing Costs Rise

(ATR) Concerns over workplace safety still plague B.C. Place Stadium...RCMP paying almost $16 million more to charter cruise ships than originally projected

B.C. Place Stadium still needs to implement training procedures to ensure that workers understand the policy for an emergency such as a roof deflation. (ATR)British Columbia’s workplace safety regulator says workers in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic stadium still lack sufficient safety training and information.

WorkSafe BC officer Stuart Smith found B.C. Place Stadium in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act, saying, "Adequate written operating and emergency procedures were not available in the control room nor could be they located at the worksite. In addition, workers were unable to provide consistent or clear responses when questioned as to the necessary actions to take in certain emergency situations such as a roof deflation."

Smith reported April 9 that there were “significant deficiencies” at the site of the 2010 Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.

B.C. Place General Manager Howard Crosley said, “It was very disconcerting to us obviously when we got [the report] and we're working towards it to try and satisfy all of Stuart's recommendations and orders.”

The fabric roof ripped and collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow on Jan. 5, 2007. The Dec. 21, 2007 report of the stadium’s Joint Health and Safety Committee said the “lack of effective policies, procedures and training” was the root cause.

Smith also cited the Joint Health and Safety Committee for violating the Act by not meeting during three months in 2008.

B.C. Place, operated by B.C. Pavilion Corporation, is undergoing $298 million in pre- and post-Olympic renovations, including the installation of a retractable roof by 2011.

Ski Jumpers Await Verdict

The wait is on for B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon’s verdict in the “Flying 15” versus VANOC.

“It's a very strong case and I'm hopeful it's going to work out in our favor,” women’s world ski jumping champion Lindsey Van of Utah said outside the Law Courts on April 24.

The five-day hearing ended with a rebuttal by the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ross Clark.

Clark sought a declaration from Fenlon that VANOC is government-controlled and therefore subject to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees gender equality.

Defense lawyer George Macintosh said the IOC controls VANOC and local organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics have no right to ask the IOC to reverse its 2006 decision against women’s ski jumping.

Clark accused VANOC of hiding behind the IOC to justify discrimination. He noted that the IOC “could’ve intervened and chose not to do so” in the case.

VANOC Vice President of Communications Renee Smith-Valade said VANOC hopes to “help these women get more training and practice time in so they can really put forward a strong case for 2014.”

RCMP Paying More for Cruise Ships

The RCMP is spending almost $16 million more to charter cruise ships for the 2010 Winter Olympics’ security force than it expected to pay in 2008.

The Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit announced a $62 million contract April 21 with Holland America Line of Seattle and Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami to supply three luxury liners to accommodate cops and troops. The two companies are owned by Miami and London-headquartered Carnival Corporation.

When it announced the contract last June with Cruise Connections Charter Management of North Carolina, the RCMP said it was worth $31 million. Later in the summer, it disclosed the value was really $46 million. Since then, the value of the Canadian dollar has dropped.

Lawyers for the RCMP are waiting for a Washington, D.C. judge to decide their March 31 application to dismiss the breach of contract lawsuit by Cruise Connections. The RCMP cancelled the contract because of a dispute over payment, taxation and currency exchange. The RCMP claims it is protected from lawsuits by the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Pontiac Remains with Alpine Canada

General Motors’ Pontiac brand will cease to exist in 2010, but it will remain the sponsor of the Canadian Pontiac will remain as a sponsor for the Canadian women's alpine ski team. (Getty Images)women’s alpine ski team and the country’s biggest national ski racing series.

“There is a 40-year history of Pontiac and Alpine Canada and I think there is a lot of value there,” said Alpine Canada President Gary Allan.

Alpine Canada and GM meet in Toronto on May 4 to discuss last season and begin planning for the next. Allan said GM has been ahead of schedule in its sponsorship payments. GMC Trucks sponsors the men’s team.

Briefs…

…The month-old Vancouver Convention Centre cancelled an event April 27 after leaking pipes flooded the building, forcing the evacuation of conventioneers. The $721 million home of the 2010 International Broadcast Centre reopened in the afternoon, but no damage estimate was available.

…British Columbia’s Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister, John van Dongen, resigned April 27 after disclosing April 24 his driving suspension for too many speeding tickets. He dropped his responsibility for ICBC, the provincial auto insurance company and Vancouver 2010 sponsor. Three days later, he quit the provincial cabinet, but remains on the ballot as a B.C. Liberal candidate in the May 12 provincial election.

...The House of Switzerland 2010 will be at Bridges on Granville Island and will highlight two-time Winter Games host St. Moritz and Switzerland consul general Walter Deplazes outside Granville Island's Bridges restaurant and bar, which will become the House of Switzerland during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (ATR/B. Mackin)Lausanne, the IOC headquarters. A smaller House of Switzerland will be located at the Mountain Club in Whistler Village near the medals plaza. The Swiss Olympic committee expects to send a team of 130 to 150 to the Games.

...The VANOC official languages advisory committee, struck to add more French to the 2010 Games, met for the first time April 24. VANOC has been criticized for the lack of information in French. Though Canada is officially bilingual, Statistics Canada found only 27,000 French speakers in Metro Vancouver during the 2006 Census. English is spoken by 1.2 million. Other languages -- mainly Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi -- were spoken by the other 880,000.

… Ticket sales for the first 20 events for the 2010 Cultural Olympiad were announced April 28. Works by multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, Taiwan mural artist Michael Lin, Quebec playwright and director Robert Lepage will be featured. Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet will perform with Nunavut throat singer Tanya Tagaq while the Alberta Ballet will stage its full version of Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum. The biggest production may be the Vancouver Symphony’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8: Symphony of a Thousand with hundreds of musicians, eight vocalists and three choirs.

Cultural Olympiad 2010 will take place Jan. 22- March 21.

With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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