by Harvey Oberfeld
June 20, 2022
Vancouver municipal, regional, provincial and federal politicians, travelling locals, cheerleading tourist industry officials and the BC media (including this sometimes audacious blogger) love to tell the world how beautiful Vancouver International Airport is inside.
Wonderful sculptures, beautiful native art, a winding path through scenes of BC nature … complete with a welcoming waterfall and birds chirping.
YVR is, indeed, one of the most attractive airports I have ever travelled through in North America, Europe, Asia, South América.
If only we could keep INSIDE the tens of thousands of visitors and media who will be coming to Vancouver for the FIFA World Cup Games in 2026!
Because OUTSIDE, visiting Vancouver now has UGLINESS that reveals itself immediately to many, as soon as they exit YVR … and seek a taxi.
I witnessed that Saturday night, after arriving on a flight from Toronto at 10:30 p.m.
Now, for those who may not be aware, Saturday nights (and Tuesdays) are regarded as the lightest travel times of the week. Not nearly as challenging as flying Thursday, Friday or Sunday.
Yet, there they were, at 11 p.m. Saturday evening, outside YVR’s domestic arrivals terminal … HUNDREDS of weary, exasperated, unhappy travelers, some in wheelchairs, many with small children …. stuck in a line that stretched back half the distance of the terminal’s length, waiting up to an hour or more, as a mere trickle of arriving taxis tried to cope with the tired, frustrated, some-angry crowd … clearly having a miserable YVR experience .
With two RCMP officers standing by to keep the peace (line-cutters lurk everywhere).
Luckily, it was not raining!!
Welcome World … to Vancouver!
And remember, this was a pretty normal Saturday night: not Christmas, New Years, Easter break or Thanksgiving. Many in line seemed to be cruise ship passengers or tourists who came to BC to enjoy themselves …. but after hours of air travel couldn’t even get to their hotels from YVR without enduring athis horrible “welcome”.
Just think the numbers that FIFA will bring! Not just surrounding the dates of any games, but for months before, adding into the mix all the people involved in planning, organizing events, promotions, tours, media centre setups, and all kinds of other activities that take place when a city hosts a “World” event.
Now think soccer fans.
When the soccer fans arrive, if nothing improves, the RCMP will need reinforcements (the army?) … just to handle the rampaging chaos at YVR’s taxi lineup! Not to mention downtown.
And this is not a NEW phenomenon at YVR.
Many, many times on arriving home, I have witnessed YVR’s sub-standard taxi services compared to other “world” class cities and the problem here is getting worse, not better. Even with UBER and the Skytrain.
The good news: more and more people are using taxis rather than driving after drinking; more tourists are now travelling again to BC, domestically and internationally; the cruise ships are back, depositing thousands of spending visitors; and, the Lower Mainland’s population is continuing to grow, enlarging the taxi industry’s potential customer base.
The bad news: the City and Province have FAILED to adequately take on Vancouver’s taxi lobby and provide modern-day taxi services in the city.
Vancouver is not ready for prime time … or FIFA.
We clearly need another THOUSAND taxis … licensed regionally, so each can pick up in ANY Lower Mainland municipality, and not have to head back empty after dropping customers in a neighbouring municipality … denying people rides and wasting so much energy. And freeing up enough taxis to serve Vancouver residents, downtown hotels, restaurants, theatres, stadiums, and bars … and YVR.
BC’s media may ignore the nightly (daytime too?) disgrace at YVR … but the world media will not!
They … especially those from the UK and Europe that provide no-holds-barred coverage … will savage Vancouver on what they see/experience here … well beyond just covering FIFA as a sporting event.
And their audience is HUGE!!
This is from the BC Government’s own Press Release last week:
“This is the first time that FIFA Men’s World Cup matches will be played on Canadian soil, and the tournament is watched by billions of people around the world. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support the tourism sector, put the global spotlight on British Columbia and inspire the next generation of players.
““We’re not hosting the largest ever World Cup just for kicks. British Columbians will enjoy an economic boost to the tourism and hospitality sectors that will be felt for years to come. We look forward to welcoming the global soccer community to our province,” said Premier John Horgan.
Wait till the world media get to “experience” the taxi lines at YVR!
And then focus their cameras on what our City Council and NDP Provincial Government have done to the city since the 2010 Winter Olymics!
Hastings Street …and Granville Street … right up to the Granville Bridge will be getting LOTS of world media attention. Probably Davie Street and Robson Street by 2026 as well … given the way City Council and Horgan’s government have aided and abetted the SPREAD of the deterioration, the destruction, the crime, the violence, the ugliness that now pervades Vancouver’s downtown.
As the Premier said “billions of people” will be looking at Vancouver.
The Vancouver that the world will see during FIFA will be at lot different from the city we showed off at Expo 1986 and even the 2010 Olympics … such is the extent/rapidity of the decline since then.
But perhaps we’ll get lucky: maybe the world media will get stuck at YVR, unable to get cabs to make it into the downtown for days … just in time to rush directly to BC Place stadium for a game … unable to see what we have done to our city since they were last here.