Toronto has Pearson, Paris has de Gaulle, New York has JFK, and Liverpool has John Lennon while we have Vancouver International Airport or simply, YVR.
Over the years many have been tossing around the idea that the three airport code letters “YVR” don’t do our region justice and recently this school of thought has been gaining momentum. It would seem the popular choice for renaming Vancouver International would be after Terry Fox — our local hero who made a big impact on the world.
Terry was born in Manitoba but he grew up in Vancouver before moving to Port Coquitlam. In 1980 Terry Fox set out to cross Canada on foot as a part of his Marathon of Hope to raise funds and awareness for Cancer research. “Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977.” – [source]
He wanted to bring hope to inspire a nation by going across the country — 8,000 kms from St John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, BC. He dipped his toe in the Atlantic and set out on the journey. When he reached Thunder Bay, Ontario about 143 days in (and over 5,000 kms through) he had to stop for medical reasons. He was brought back to BC and shortly after he passed away.
Each year, to honor his legacy, Canadians participate in the Terry Fox Run to raise funds for his cause. Recently he was named one of the single Greatest Canadians who ever lived.
A website has been setup to get online signature for a petition and a Facebook group is gaining support in favour of Terry Fox International Airport.
Although he never got to dip his toe in the Pacific Ocean, his mission is legendary and lives on through education, research, and each man, woman and child who participates in the Terry Fox Run around the world.
“It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death….We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.” – Pierre Trudeau to the House of Commons about Terry Fox.
Despite all of this, many still feel the airport would lose an international identity without the word “Vancouver” in the name. Toronto International was renamed Lester B. Pearson International Airport (known to many as Toronto Pearson) in 1984, after our 14th Prime Minister and many others have also been renamed. However, the debate is not out of a lack of respect or honor for Terry’s legacy, but many simply see it as a poor business move when it comes to identifying Vancouver on the world stage.
Update October 7, 2010: This is in the new again as online petitions grow. “Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry said Wednesday she thinks it’s an excellent idea and said she’s looking to present a motion in the House of Commons calling for the name change.” – CBC