We’ll make cost ‘peanuts’ for Com­mon­wealth Games

Busi­ness pleads for politi­cians to back fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment

Times Colonist - - The Capital / Island - BILL CLEVERLEY

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.


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