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Latest poll shows 75 per cent of British Columbians support 2010 Games



But watchdog group cites own poll in response

Three quarters of British Columbians polled about the 2010 Winter Olympic Games said they supported holding the event.

That’s the cumulative finding of three months of polls by Ipsos-Reid who has been conducting the surveys as part of their in-kind support for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

"Of course we are pleased to have this level of support as we move toward this goal of producing a winning bid for Canada," said 2010 spokesman Sam Corea.

The surveys were carried out over April, May and June. In each survey of B.C. residents 800 people were questioned. The poll is reliable within 2.3 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Respondents were asked: As you may or may not know Vancouver has launched an effort to host the Winter Olympics in 2010. There will be a range of venues from the Greater Vancouver area up to Whistler. Do you support or oppose Vancouver hosting the 2010 Olympics?"

Of those who supported the bid 46 per cent strongly supported it and 29 per cent moderately supported it.

In May the bid corporation released polling information from March which showed support in B.C. was at 82 per cent.

National support from that poll was at 88 per cent.

The results of the cumulative poll over the three months puts Canada-wide support at 85 per cent. The results are reliable within 1.8 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Corea cautioned against reading too much into the fluctuations in the numbers as each month is like a snapshot rather than a trend.

The high level of support in March, for example, may have been a result of the excitement lingering after the Salt lake Winter Olympic Games in February.

"A three month result is a better indicator of support," he said. "Fluctuations were expected and that is why a three month survey is more representative."

Corea said the main reason given for support of the Games was the expected economic boost to the economy. According to the poll 62 per cent believed it would provide a boost.

Another 26 per cent believed it would enhance Vancouver’s reputation globally and 22 per cent believed it would boost tourism.

The poll also found that 87 per cent of Canadians believed federal support for the Games was a good thing while 74 per cent of British Columbians believed provincial support was good.

Those who didn’t support hosting the Games also cited financial issues as the reason.

"So it comes down to dollars either way," said Corea.

"This means we have to continue to get the information about the positive benefits and we will continue doing that."

He added that, while public opinion is important, it is only one of the themes the bid corporation must focus on to have a successful bid.

"We have to make sure we have great venues, and legacy ideas, enough accommodation and sound transportation plans, so public opinion is one of many themes," he said.

"We are concerned about the public opinion to make sure it is there, but we are also concerned about all the other elements of the bid."

Am Johal spokesman for Vancouver’s Impact of the Olympic on Community Coalition puts little stock in the Ipsos-Reid poll.

"What I’m getting from the polling is that the public like the idea of having them here but no one wants to spend any money on them," he said.

He points to a poll coalition member SPEC did at the beginning of June which found that only 19.7 per cent of British Columbians are prepared to spend public money on the Games.

"We say our own poll tells a different story," said Johal.

The SPEC poll, by McIntyre and Mustel Research, asked 506 B.C. residents to rank environmental protection, health care, education, pubic transit, police services and the Olympics when it comes to allocating public money.

Spending for the Olympics rated last, behind transit.