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Furlong: Games broke even

Many related costs covered by corporations, governments



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Eby says it will take a change of government, or leadership, for the true costs of the Games to come to light.

"We will never actually know if they actually broke even, and I suspect they ran a very large deficit," he said. "The only way we could ever get to be an informed citizenry is if the auditor general for B.C. or for Canada was given access to VANOC as well as provincial and federal government expenditures, and that may never happen.

"The system was built so we would never get a true number. VANOC is exempt from federal and provincial and non-profit operating rules, they're exempt from an auditor general's review. They're federally and provincially exempt from Freedom of Information rules, and in fact when they met with ministries they did so without keeping any minutes to prevent that information from getting out. Everything was created to prevent giving the citizens of B.C. a true picture of what happened, and they're succeeding in that mission admirably."

There are bright spots to report that are also not included in the Games accounting.

For example, Whistler's own Games office spent $6 million, $3.5 million less than was budgeted - although that was largely the result of the province agreeing to pick up the tab for services like snow clearing, street maintenance, transportation and fire and rescue services.

It's also difficult to measure the impact of the Olympics. Reports from the provincial and federal governments suggest that the Games created 45,000 jobs and generated as much as $2.5 billion in gross domestic product.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which conducted the economic impact studies, estimates that the Games resulted in $500 million in additional tourism spending, a number which is expected to grow as more people travel to the province.

"Canada's tourism brand is now number one in the world," said Furlong.



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