Vancouver city council to consider motion on exploring 2030 Olympic bid

Feb 23 2020, 7:43 pm

There is of course much work to be done to determine the feasibility, costs, and benefits of bidding for the rights to host the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, but an upcoming motion in Vancouver city council could formalize and help accelerate that process.

Councillor Melissa De Genova will be calling a notice of motion this week that will explore the City of Vancouver’s possible participation in a future Winter Olympics bid. This follows an announcement made by former VANOC CEO John Furlong last week, stating he would help push for a repeat Olympic experience in 2030.

She makes it clear that she is not advocating for or against a bid, given the idea is still deep in its infancy, and bid plans and costing estimates have not been created by proponents.

“There has been a lot of talk on how everything is already set up, but I think there might be a need for some new infrastructure, and it might align with some of our capital plan goals in the future,” De Genova told Daily Hive Urbanized.

“If Vancouver were to proceed, I would hope that we will discuss on how we can align our goals to work alongside some of the expectations that would come with what we’d have to deliver.”

She asserts it takes far too long for Vancouver to build new community and recreational facilities, and suggests the municipal government currently has an overdependence on community amenity contributions (CACs) from developers to achieve many of its capital projects, as this is a significant cost passed on to new homeowners.

Her motion will request Mayor Kennedy Stewart to seek the input of the Four Host First Nations that were involved with VANOC for the 2010 Games, as well as send letters to Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on their positions with providing funding from their respective federal and provincial governments for the costs of putting together a competitive bid and the potential commitments to Olympic costs in the ultimate scenario of a successful bid.

Additionally, De Genova wants city staff to study the impact this may have on the City of Vancouver, including considerations for a referendum to gauge public support for a bid.

In response to Furlong’s comments, both Horgan and BC minister of tourism Lisa Beare said they would need the bid proponents and local governments to create and submit a proposal for their consideration. Already $100,000 has been raised by the business community to help fund the establishment of a bid committee.

“I wouldn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. Before we go and ask everyone, we should make sure we’re able to do this,” said De Genova.

“We have to look at the benefits, what we’re bringing into our city that will benefit people, create jobs, and make sure we’re building our economy and prosperity for people across the region.”

She says this would certainly need to help balance housing affordability issues and address the economic challenges small businesses face today.

“If I were told that this is something that would make Vancouver less affordable in the long run, I’d be very concerned and less likely to support it,” she continued.

But she acknowledges the lasting benefits left behind by the 2010 Games in the city, including the new Hillcrest Centre (formerly Vancouver Olympic Centre for curling), renovations to the city-owned Pacific Coliseum (figure skating and short-track speed skating), Vancouver Convention Centre’s new West Building (International Broadcast Centre), and the construction of SkyTrain Canada Line.

Although it was initially controversial, the Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek is now widely deemed as a vibrant neighbourhood and a financial success, as it provided the city with a net profit of $70 million in exchange for its investment. This project included a new community centre and other amenities and public spaces for the area.

As well, De Genova suggested a 2030 Games could repeat and expand the inner city employment programs that were in place for the 2010 Games, which benefited groups such as indigenous people and disadvantaged youth and mothers.

After the submission, the motion on establishing the first possible steps towards 2030 will be deliberated by city council on March 10.

In a prepared statement last week, Stewart also said a referendum would likely be necessary to proceed with a bid, and noted that both the federal and provincial governments would have to play a lead organizational and funding role for such large global scale events.

For 2010, the provincial and federal governments equally shared VANOC’s $600-million capital budget for new and renovated sports venues. This does not include some of the supplemental sports venue costs to municipal governments, specifically the City of Vancouver for Hillcrest Centre and the City of Richmond for Richmond Olympic Oval.

Senior governments also covered the cost of security and new transportation infrastructure, although the City of Vancouver provided $29 million to construct Olympic Village Station, which serves not only the 2010-built Olympic Village but also the South False Creek and wider Southeast False Creek neighbourhoods.

For the failed Calgary 2026 Winter Games bid, the public costs were pegged at $1.45 billion for the federal government, $700 million for the provincial government, and $390 million for the City of Calgary. Another $495 million was estimated for security costs.

But a 56% ‘No’ result in a citywide referendum stopped Calgary’s bid from proceeding any further.

Conversely, 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.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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