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Games trust loses value in 2011

Richmond, Whistler venues receive $2.7 million from legacy fund



The total value of the Games Operating trust declined in 2011 with total cash and assets of $110.1 million at the end of the year — almost exactly the amount that was set aside by the Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia back in 2003 to ensure the long-term viability of the 2010 Winter Games venues.

It's been a rocky road to get the fund back to where it started. At one point in 2007, before the economic crisis, the fund was valued at over $131 million. It lost almost a quarter of its value to dip below $100 million after the 2008 market crash. The fund slowly regained value and at the end of 2010 it was valued at $114.7 million.

According to financial statements, the fund earned just one per cent interest over 2011, which works out to just over one million dollars. However, due to the funding formula, both partners in the fund — Whistler Sport Legacies and the City of Richmond — asked for, and received, the maximum disbursement of five per cent.

According to the WSL, the formula for disbursements is up to five per cent of the rolling three-year value of the funds held by the Games Operating Trust, including half the eligible disbursement from the contingency fund that's held in trust for both WSL and Richmond.

As well, the disbursement is not directly tied to the interest earned, and can exceed that amount if requested by the partners.

B.C. and Canada were equal partners in the fund when it was created, with each contributing $55 million. The value was divided between Whistler Sport Legacies (WSL), which operates Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Sliding Centre, and the City of Richmond, which operates the former speed skating oval as a community centre and high performance gym. Each partner benefits from 40 per cent of the fund's value, with the other 20 per cent being held in a contingency fund.

At the end of 2010, WSL's fund was valued at $42.1 million, Richmond's at $42.2 million and the contingency at $24.9 million.

Both the WSL and Richmond made funding requests for the full disbursement. The Games Operating Trust Society, a volunteer board that manages the fund and payouts, approved $2.78 million for Richmond and $2.77 million for WSL for the 2012 season.

As a result of the request, the WSL's fund was worth roughly $40.27 million at the end of the year, almost $2 million less than the end of 2010. Richmond's fund declined to $40.36 million, while the contingency fund paid out $1.25 million to reduce its end-of-year value to $23.9 million — $1 million less than the end of 2010.

The fund was created to subsidize the 2010 venues as they develop various revenue sources, but the amount does not generate enough interest to fund the legacies. Last week, WSL unveiled its annual financial report for 2011, revealing operating costs for its venues. The Whistler Sliding Centre recouped just $578,000 of its total operating expenses of $2.7 million. That figure includes revenues from public skeleton tours, as well as ticket sales from hosting two World Cup events.

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