OK, Vancouver, it’s time to feel the love.
The world has lined up a date with Vancouver for Valentine’s Day 2010, and Vancouver is already fussing with its hair.
The expectations are high, maybe too high. If this doesn’t go well, there’s a risk the world may not be that into us after all, and we’ll lose our standing as the No. 1 urban lifestyle love object on the planet.
People who remember this town before it was a world-class date remember just how boring it was around here. They never had to put up with construction-induced traffic snarls. That’s because there was no construction … or traffic, for that matter. It was, as legendary scribe Allan Fotheringham liked to say, “The little village on the edge of the rain forest.”
But what could go wrong? We’re hot and we’ve got all the assets: Mountain backdrop, ocean beaches, a rain forest right downtown, and a $178-million skating rink.
I admit it took me a while to catch the Olympic fever. I just couldn’t see why we’d spend $104.5 million on a glorified toboggan slide (the Whistler Sliding Centre) when we could just rent a movie, stay home, and snuggle up on the couch.
But I think the Olympic love bug bit me last winter when I was standing at the base of the ski jump in the Callaghan Valley just outside Whistler. The scale is enormous: I simply can’t imagine what it would take to race down that thing and then take wingless flight. The courage, skill and grace required are staggering, and it’s all going to happen right here.
And finally we’ll be able to stop talking about the last time the world came to call — Expo 86. It’s been a long time between dates, and although the world issues annual press releases telling us how much they love us, we’re starting to wonder if they are ever going to drive up in their satellite trucks again.
Not to worry. They’re coming, although I’m not sure where they’re going to stay. Tourism Vancouver expects 350,000 visitors and there are 30,000 hotel rooms in the area. By next Valentine’s Day, the world will be so hot for a date with Vancouver, you should be able to rent out your doghouse for $500 a night.
After that, for better or worse, we’ll never be the same.