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The Synod offices of the Diocese of New Westminster are located on the fifth floor (Suite 580) of a Vancouver Skyscraper known primarly as 401 West Georgia, but alternatively as The Allstream Tower.
At present the Synod office is the lone tenant of the fifth floor. The majority of the fifth floor office space was the Vancouver location of the Walt Disney-owned computer game company, Propaganda, closed by the parent company last fall.
The hallways and washrooms of the fifth floor were always very busy with many women and men mostly under the age of 35 scurrying about 24-7.
Since their departure it has been very quiet on the fifth floor until Wednesday evening, June 15th.
The Vancouver Riot of June 15th has been widely covered in the local, regional, national and world media but I thought it would be of interest to our website visitors to let you know that this building is located at the very centre of those riots. They took place right outside my window.
The lobby and tower of 401 West Georgia are recessed approximately 100 metres from Georgia Street.
The ground floor tenant is a Bank of Montreal and the bank building connects to the main structure of 401 West Georgia at right angles. The lobby and tower of 401 escaped the riot unscathed, the Bank of Montreal, not-so-much.
I arrived at the office at 7am PDT on June 16th. The early shift commuters travelling to downtown from suburban North Vancouver on the bus that morning were very quiet. They seemed embarrassed.
I got off the bus two stops early and walked through the site of the mayhem. Everything had been cleaned up and the dozens of broken storefront windows boarded-up with plywood cut to fit. It was almost as if this had been expected and a recovery well planned and ready to be executed.
I went up to my office and began my work day.
Five hours later I left the office to get some air and something to eat. I was greeted by an amazing sight, hundreds of people, mostly young, gathered on the north side sidewalks of Georgia Street. Some were cleaning graffitti,some were helping to remove the piles of glass and debris that had been deposited earlier by the official clean-up crews, but most of them were standing with cameras, i-phones, BlackBerries, photographing the activity. The main focus of this group were the folks writing messages on the plywood. Trying to make sense of the senseless through a basic form of self-expression.
The plywood sheets protecting the damaged storefronts of Vancouver became like the cyber walls of Social Networking sites, ready to display status updates, links, and posts.
All in all, it was a weird couple of days.
Images: Top, BMO east side by the 401 plaza. Below, What was left of my bus stop being cleaned by volunteer crews