News » Whistler

Furlong: Games broke even

Many related costs covered by corporations, governments



Page 2 of 3

Various Crown corporations also assumed additional expenses related to the Games that weren't included in VANOC's budget. One example is the hydrogen buses and new transit facility for Whistler that was partially funded by B.C. Transit and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. B.C. Hydro assigned staff to help out with the Games and purchased tickets for workers to attend Olympic and Paralympic events.

In November it was announced that the Vancouver athletes village was in receivership, with the City of Vancouver on the hook for $750 million of the $1.2 billion loan they guaranteed to the project developer. Roughly 454 market unites out of 1,108 units in 25 buildings had yet to be sold at the time of the announcement.

In Whistler, where the municipality took out a $100 million loan to build the athletes village, only one out of 20 market units has been sold, prompting the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation to withdraw them from the market. However, virtually all of the resident-restricted housing has been sold and it's expected that the municipality will be able to pay back all but $13 million of the original loan this year, then refinance the remaining $13 million on roughly $17 million in real estate.

David Eby, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, called VANOC's claim of a balanced budget "ridiculous."

"I read the news and the headlines with just total disbelief," he said on Monday. "The security, the venues, the transportation, the convention centre - everything was over budget, literally everything. The only thing that was not over budget were the revenues that VANOC took in, which were dramatically under budget.

"I don't know which kind of math they used to break even, but I know it involved a large number of unexpected subsidies."

In June, the B.C. government acknowledged that it spent $925.2 million on the Games, or $325 million more than budgeted - a figure that includes VANOC's operating costs but doesn't include highway upgrades or the Canada Line.

Eby says there is a lot of debate as to what qualifies as a specific Olympic expense. For example, you could argue that the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement was needed, as well as the Canada Line and Vancouver Convention Centre. However, he says there's still a lack of clarity surrounding expenses that are most definitely for the Olympics - like security.

"For things that were unambiguously Olympic expenses, we still don't have a final tally," he said. "For example, how can VANOC say they came in on budget knowing their security expenses were five times what was budgeted. That's not a legacy, that's security for the event, and nobody debates that this is an Olympic expense."

Add a comment