City of Vancouver and BC government willing to consider 2030 Olympic bid

Feb 20 2020, 6:45 pm

Both the municipal and provincial governments have issued their first thoughts on a potential Vancouver bid to host the 26th Olympic Winter Games.

During his speech today to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, former VANOC CEO John Furlong announced his intention to help launch a bid to host the Winter Games in 2030 — two decades after the 21st edition jointly hosted by Vancouver and Whistler.

The bid committee already has $100,000 in funding from locally-based Rocky Mountaineer, which has Furlong as its board chair.

However, the provincial government has noted that any bid needs to begin as a grassroots advocacy initiative, similar to how the Vancouver 2010 bid began two decades ago as a registered not-for-profit organization founded by Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Whistler, and Sport BC.

For 2030, the Vancouver bid committee would also need to seek formal approval from the Canadian Olympic Committee for the domestic rights to submit a bid to the International Olympic Committee.

“If Mr. Furlong and the Canadian Olympic Committee are considering a bid for the 2030 Olympics, I look forward to them presenting the Province with a detailed proposal,” said Lisa Beare, the BC Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, in a statement.

“The 2010 Winter Olympics were a great display of the power of sport and community. Many British Columbians have fond memories of the games. Sporting events are an important part of BC’s event tourism. BC has successfully delivered many other major international sport events, including the 2019 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and Canada Rugby Sevens. We are also looking forward to the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier coming this June.”

On the municipal level, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart has indicated the ball is in the courts of the federal and provincial governments on whether to pursue a bid.

“Senior governments play the lead organizational and funding role in all large international events like this, but if Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan choose to pursue this I would certainly join them in their work,” said Stewart.

But as a first step, says Stewart, such a bid would need to attain public support from Vancouver residents, culminating with a plebiscite just like the 2010 bid.

In February 2003, the City of Vancouver’s plebiscite on the 2010 bid resulted in a 64% vote of approval to proceed with the bid. It remains as one of the city’s highest voter turnouts in history.

Conversely, in November 2018, the 56% vote of disapproval in a Calgary plebiscite killed the city’s plans for a 2026 Winter Games bid.

Stewart also expressed some hesitation with another Olympics, given that the city is currently experiencing a housing and opioid crisis.

“Unless a future bid could be made to mesh with these local priorities, residents may not be convinced,” he said, adding that the Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek initially included plans for some social housing, but that was largely replaced with more market housing.

However, the struggling development on city-owned land eventually sold its last homes in 2014, providing the city with a net profit of $70 million.

“At the end of the day, any large event like this needs to be a net benefit for Vancouver and help us address our challenges,” he said.

In 2014, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reformed its Games organizing policies, encouraging bids from 2024 onwards to use existing facilities — even if they are located further away — and temporary venues in a pursuit to reduce costs and heighten the level of positive post-Games legacies.

No bid plans have been created for Vancouver 2030 at this very early stage.

“We have a stellar reputation, an enviable track record, the trust of our friends, an army of trained volunteers, seasoned mentors, and a deep talent pool,” said Furlong.

“I believe the Canadian Olympic Committee and IOC would welcome us to bid again. And this second time around as host of the Games, we could expand to include other communities beyond VancouverWhistlerRichmond and West Vancouver, and spread the energy and benefit much further afield.”

For Daily Hive’s interview with John Furlong on Vancouver 2010 legacies and his plans for a Vancouver 2030 bid, click here.