Vancouver’s cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza is lighting up Olympic spirit – but only for a limited time.
When the legacy of the city’s 2010 Winter Olympics was lit on Feb. 8, ahead of the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, it was doused after two hours. The cauldron won’t be fired up again until March 17, when it will burn from 5 to 7 p.m. in advance of the Paralympic closing ceremony.
Many tourists and locals visiting the cauldron outside the Vancouver Convention Centre told Global News they were disappointed it wasn’t lit.
“It’s sort of sad, I mean I would love to have this on for the duration of the games. I think it’d be really in honour of all the Canadian athletes,” said one U.S. tourist.
“I believe it should be on for the whole games. It helps recapture the memories,” added another.
READ MORE: Full coverage from Pyeongchang
When Wayne Gretzky carried the torch to light the Olympic cauldron in 2010, it burned for the entire 17 days of the Vancouver Games. Former VANOC boss John Furlong told Global News he was unsure how much it cost to keep the flame burning during 2010, but it was all sponsored.
Now cheering on Team Canada in PyeongChang, Furlong said he believes Vancouver’s cauldron should be lit for the duration of any Olympic Games.
“That flame is very important. There is a glow to this and it’s a way to come downtown and feel the energy that we had in 2010 and live it all over again,” he said.
The B.C. Pavilion Corporation or BC PavCo, the Crown corporation that owns and operates the Vancouver Convention Centre where the cauldron is located, told Global News that typically the standard fee for events lighting the cauldron for four hours is $6,400.
“This covers Cauldron-related expenses, including the cost of natural gas, specialty FortisBC technicians(Class A gasfitters), permits, security, staffing and maintenance,” said BC PavCo & Vancouver Convention Centre communications manager Jinny Wu.
FortisBC is sponsoring the 2018 ceremonial cauldron lightings on Feb. 8 and March 17 with renewable natural gas, but is unable to share any costing information due to customer privacy.
Wu was unable to share any information on the total cost of lighting the cauldron during the 2010 Games because she said the Vancouver Convention Centre “took over operations of it after the games.”
After the initial two hour cauldron lighting at the beginning of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, then transportation minister Todd Stone estimated it would cost $200,000 to keep the flame lit for the remainder of the Winter games but hoped the cost would be covered by corporate sponsorship. No one came forward and the flame only burned during ceremonial lightings.
“I recognize it’s not easy and there may be costs associated with it but I believe that people should rise to the occasion and find a way to overcome it,” said Furlong.
Cauldron visitors told Global News it would be an easy win for any private citizen or corporation willing to cough up the cash.
“Despite everything else we spend our money on I think there’s someone out there that could step up,” said one man.
To date it seems, no one has that kind of money to burn.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.