Exclusive: Canada Pavilion first look with Prime Minister Harper

Prime Minister Harper at the Torch Relay's arrival at Canada Pavilion this morning
Prime Minister Harper at the Torch Relay’s arrival at Canada Pavilion this morning

CityCaucus.com was honoured this morning to have exclusive access to the Canada Pavilion in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper. We arrived early as PMO staff and organizers prepared for a detour of the Torch Relay to go through the centre of the LiveCity Downtown site, for a hand-off while the Prime Minister looked on. After the Torch left, the PM and invited guests were asked to join him inside the Canada Pavilion. CityCaucus.com was given exclusive access to the event, and we’re pleased to provide our photos (see our slideshow from this morning) and videos (videos to be posted shortly) of this morning’s occasion, and a "first look" of what we can now say will be one of the most popular free venues.

When you have a little clout like our Prime Minister, you can have things like the Olympic Torch Relay go slightly off course. An unscheduled detour was taken when the Torch arrived just after 9am at the LiveCity Downtown site, one of two live sites organized by the City of Vancouver. Two busloads of excited school kids, and a number of guests were in attendance while the Torch exchange took place in front of the Canada Pavilion.

The plaza in front of the Canada Pavilion is accessed via Hamilton Street, and like with the LiveCity Yaletown site you need to pass through a security checkpoint to get on site. It’s just like an airport screening process, where you must pass through a metal detector. I’m always quite comfortable with this process when taking flights, so it’s no different to me here. It’s good to know that problems are less likely at these highly public places as a result.

Canada Pavilion has been teased for its exterior design, but no one has really had a chance to see the facility lit up from in front. The facade of the building is mostly glass to let in lots of natural light. It faces east so it will be bright in there on sunny mornings. A large "ticker tape" display projects messages – mainly phrases about the sport and technology showcase within the Pavilion. It will really add to the vividness of LiveCity Downtown after dark.

Inside the high ceilings and tall windows add to the warm and welcoming interior design. For anyone with kids, or kids at heart, there are dozens of digital activities and hands on games and interactive displays. Of all the top "digital" venues we’ve been to, this one had the most goodies. The "virtual slapshot hockey" will be a big draw. The Pavilion also serves as a museum of Canadian Olympic sport. There are videos of the momentus medal performance of Nancy Green Raine, who is now a Canadian Senator. In fact, Senator Raine was at the opening along with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Federal Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn, and Heritage Minister James Moore. Vancouver City Councillor Suzanne Anton was also in attendance.

What will likely make the Canada Pavilion a shrine for hockey fans is that the jerseys of two hockey legends – Wayne Gretzky and Maurice "Rocket" Richard – are on display. When we were there the kids lept to test out all the interactive games, and the grown-ups swooned over the old hockey jerseys.

This is going to be a great place to visit, and it will surely attract big crowds. While on site we were invited to have a quick look at both CentrePlace Manitoba and the LiveCity Downtown indoor venue. The Manitoba pavilion will feature interactive information kiosks in a uniquely designed building, as well there is information about the new Canadian Human Rights museum. The LiveCity Downtown indoor venue will be a great place to hang out, have a bite to eat and drink a glass of beer (it’s a licensed venue) while listening to live music performances.

There really is something for everybody at LiveCity Downtown.

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