Two-tonne Olympic relic sits idle in False Creek

City put inukshuk up for sale

A forgotten relic of the 2010 Winter Olympics stands in solitary confinement on a dusty, fenced City of Vancouver lot west of the Village on False Creek.

Tourists can't get close enough to pose for photographs. Most Vancouverites don't even know it's there.

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But city hall continues to seek a new home for the not-so-little, orphaned inukshuk.

The site was a temporary VANOC parking lot for the Olympic Village during the 2010 Winter Games. Assistant city engineer Paul Henderson said the inukshuk was abandoned by VANOC "with the city's permission, in the event that the city might have a use for it."

The city decided it had no use for it and advertised it on its surplus goods website last February "for immediate sale and removal on an 'as is, where is' basis."

The tendering document described the Jan. 18 to 30, 2010-installed inukshuk as an "eight piece, fibre reinforced mortar/concrete with Styrofoam cores" that weighs 2.6 tonnes.

"The statue has no heritage value for retention by the city or any of the Olympic partners. Due to intentions of this item being temporary, discussion has occurred on whether the piece may be successfully removed intact or may have to be destroyed at site," said the document.

"The city can not provide advice as to removal other than a crane truck with professional trained staff will be required," said the document.

The price is negotiable and the city even offered an incentive, based on the "danger factor" for labourers and the sculpture. The purchase price would be refunded should the inukshuk be damaged during removal, on the condition that the buyer removes the debris. Deadline for bids was Feb. 9 and the city wanted it removed Feb. 15, three days after the first anniversary of the Games' opening. But the inukshuk remains after a deal fell through.

"Talks are underway with another potential buyer on a possible sale and removal," said City of Vancouver spokeswoman Wendy Stewart. "Nothing firmed up at this point, although discussions are moving forward favourably."

The English Bay inukshuk, which inspired artist Elena Rivera MacGregor's VANOC logo design, was originally erected 25 years ago by Inuit artist Alvin Kanak just east of the Olympic Village site at the Bing Thom-designed Northwest Territories Pavilion for Expo 86.

The Olympic truce wall west of the Creekside Community Recreation Centre is the official monument of the Games at the rebranded Village on False Creek. The two pillars, one 3.25 metres high and the other 2.5 metres, were unveiled Feb. 9, 2010 by former governor general Michaelle Jean and depict the Coast Salish orca (Olympic) and raven (Paralympic) medals designs on stainless steel panels. The names of all Vancouver 2010 athletes are inscribed on the back of the monument. Athletes and dignitaries who visited the Village were invited to sign the panels with marker pens, but all of their autographs were erased after the Games.

Reporters who covered the unveiling were told that officials were considering a charity auction of the autographed panels to benefit victims of the Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake.

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