CBC British Columbia

Communities unite for 2010 Winter Games

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Boisterous and often intoxicated crowds have filled the streets, bars and restaurants of downtown Vancouver since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games began on Feb., 12. If you were out in Vancouver yesterday evening, it was impossible to miss the hordes of sports enthusiasts flocking to the Olympic houses and local watering holes for the highly anticipated Canada-USA men's hockey game.

living2.jpgDown at the West End Community Centre on Denman Street, a less rowdy but equally excited group of people came together to cheer on Team Canada. Since the beginning of the Olympics, the West End Community Centre - along with 29 other locations in Metro Vancouver - has served as a "Community Living Room" for local residents and visitors.

The City of Vancouver provided thirty locations with 50-inch plasma screen televisions to community centres and neighbourhood houses across the city as part of the Host City initiative. The televisions were up and running for the Opening Ceremonies on Feb., 12 and will be available to the public until the end of the Olympics. A select number of locations will be showing the Paralympic Games beginning on March 12.

I made my way down to the West End Community Centre this morning to see what this program was all about. When I arrived, a small group of people were sitting together, watching the men's cross country skiing event. I sat down next to one elderly gentleman who told me that he had been watching events at the centre since the games began.

"It's great that they have the screen here," he said. "It's really nice to watch the events with other people cheering around you."

living.jpgI spoke with the manager of the Community Centre, who was eager to share his enthusiasm for the program. "It's been a great success," he said. "We had nearly 80 people show up to our Opening Ceremony celebration and it's been crowded for many of the major events."

After spending a half-hour watching the cross-country skiing with a few others, it' was easy to see the value in the "Community Living Room" initiative. For those living alone or without a television, the community screening of the Winter Games is a great way to bring the Vancouver community together and show team spirit. People of all ages can celebrate the games together without paying exorbitant prices at downtown restaurants or dealing with long lines and rowdy crowds in Vancouver's bars.

Looking for somewhere to watch the next big event? See the map below to find a "Community Living Room" near you!

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan