While walking to Red Door on South Granville from West Broadway to 14th last night I noticed what appeared to be flags of different countries painted on the concrete pavement. My initial thought was that it was some kind of promotion for the Olympics. I also thought perhaps it was a creative attempt to celebrate Vancouver as a multicultural, multi-ethnic city. Whatever the reason, I was intrigued enough to take a photo of every single flag I walked by. It was kind of fun trying to guess the country of each flag (...I failed miserably) but I had to stop after about five blocks or I’d end up on the Granville Bridge to downtown. I decided to make a collage with the ones I did capture and this was the result:
(I realize there are a couple of duplicates but I wanted to make a complete square =P)
Well, my predictions were wrong. After some online research I discovered it is neither a City nor VANOC promotion for the Olympics but a $250,000 marketing concept called FlagWalk implemented by Yaletown and South Granville business groups. Hit hard by the recession, South Granville and Yaletown businesses took advantage of the Olympic hype and partnered up in hopes that the idea will attract more attention and business from locals before the games begin. There are more than 450 decals, as they are called, placed in alphabetical order representing 80 countries participating in the Winter Olympics. Spanning a distance of almost 4 kms, FlagWalk creates a walking route connecting Yaletown and South Granville for tourists and spectators coming to Vancouver. The expectation is that they will be curious and follow the flags, which will take them through some of the city’s most unique neighbourhoods and lure them to specific business districts. So while it is a way-finding tool, it is very much a marketing tool as well.