Opinion » Editorial


There really wasn’t much new in Monday’s announcement by the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Bid Society of facilities planned for the Olympics — alpine, freestyle and snowboarding events are planned for Whistler and Blackcomb, nordic events in the Callaghan Valley. But on a political level it was interesting to keep track of who is now for the Games and who is opposed. The provincial government sent off a press release with the headline "Province supports winter 2010 Olympic bid." The benefits, as stated by Small Business, Tourism and Culture Minister Ian Waddell, include $250 million in tax revenues, 25,000 person years of employment and "legacies, "such as new and upgraded facilities and infrastructure, will be the long term spin offs for British Columbia." "This is a long term project which will benefit all British Columbians," Waddell said. The bid also has the support of labour, including B.C. Federation of Labour President Ken Georgetti, who is a member of the board of directors of the bid society. Even the Western Canada Wilderness Committee didn’t object to facilities proposed for the Callaghan Valley and Grouse Mountain. On the other hand, there were concerns raised by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which questions spending public money ($250 million) on the Olympics while the province is in dire financial straits. But in the early 1970s, when a group of businessmen were considering a Whistler bid for the 1980 Winter Olympics, Dave Barrett’s NDP government of the day said it wouldn’t support the bid, effectively killing it. The B.C. Federation of Labour, "as a public service," took out a large ad in the Vancouver Sun on Aug. 30, 1974 which said: "Let’s give a vote of thanks to the NDP Government for protecting British Columbians against the Winter Olympics rip-off." Among the evils of the earlier Olympic bid: it was going to "cost B.C. taxpayers millions in direct costs, millions spent to benefit a few, millions which should be used for recreational development throughout the province to benefit all British Columbians. Millions more would be required to upgrade roads and the main benefits would go to a few private developers." It was also going to threaten the ecology of the area. All of which makes for amusing reading today, but it also illustrates what hosting the Olympics is all about: the legacies the Games provide, including facilities, transportation infrastructure, international recognition and tourism. Whether one sees the legacy benefits as outweighing the costs obviously depends to some degree on the timing of the bid. But with official bid books for the 2010 Games being submitted to the Canadian Olympic Association in mid-October, the time to support the Vancouver-Whistler bid is at hand.

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