We’ll make cost ‘peanuts’ for Commonwealth Games
Business pleads for politicians to back financial commitment
The cost to the province of holding the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Victoria would be so negligible it would amount to a budgetary rounding error, says businessman David Black.
Black, the bid committee chairman, on Thursday asked Victoria city council to appeal to Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James to change their minds and agree to commit $400 million toward hosting the Games.
He said that when returns from new taxation are considered, the $400-million ask translates into $125 million over five years.
“So that’s $25 million a year, which is nothing, right?” Black said. “It’s actually 1/20th of one per cent of what their annual budget is. It’s a rounding error and it brings all this money to town — far more than they are promising in their budget.”
In addition, Black said, 10 businesspeople have agreed to cover any cost overruns.
The proponents need the province to commit to investing $400 million, as well as a similar commitment from the federal government by Sept. 30 in order for the bid to have a chance.
“So we’ve taken away their risk and shown them the cost is peanuts and they are still saying no, and I don’t know why that is,” Black said.
He said having the Games in Greater Victoria would bring $1 billion in new infrastructure to the region, provide 2,000 units of affordable market housing and solve the Colwood Crawl. “I do really think we can solve that [traffic] problem. That may be one of the things that Victoria loves the most that we get out of these Games,” he said.
Plans call for an athletes village to be built on land near Costco in Langford. Afterward, it would be available for housing. At least two major sports facilities with large parking lots, would be constructed along the Trans-Canada Highway.
“We want to add a [high-occupancy vehicle] lane to the highway in both directions and set up a park-and-ride program so the number of cars coming into downtown will be reduced,” Black said.
About $50 million has been budgeted for ceremonies and art festivals.
The biggest benefit for Victoria will be tourism, he said. The committee is hoping three-on-three basketball could be played at Ship Point or on the street in front of the Empress Hotel in downtown Victoria, with beach volleyball on the legislature lawn, he said.
“We think if people are taking pictures of these world-class athletes leaping at a volleyball with that beautiful building in the background, it will go viral all around the world,” Black said.
Victoria council, sitting as committee of the whole, simply heard Black’s presentation without making a recommendation. Acting mayor Coun. Marianne Alto said councillors would be free to introduce a motion if they chose to at a later date.
Black noted that Horgan, former Liberal premier Christy Clark and B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver were in agreement with the idea of providing $150 million in funding four or five months ago.
Both James and Horgan have said that despite the private-sector offer to cover cost overruns, the province can’t support the bid at this time. Horgan has said the federal government is eyeing 2030 — the Games’ 100th anniversary — as an opportunity to support a bid.
Bid committee chairman David Black says hosting the Games in 2022 would bring huge benefits to Victoria.