It’s a billion dollar gamble. A local committee is proposing that Victoria host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. And it has to convince all levels of government to contribute millions of dollars all before the Sept. 30 deadline. Mary Griffin reports.
The estimated cost of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Victoria is $955 million, according to a bid committee.
In a business plan released Wednesday, Victoria?s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid committee indicated that revenue from the operation of the Games would cover $130 million, but another $825 million in funding would be needed.
The committee is asking the federal government for $400 million, plus all security and servicing costs. It is also asking the B.C. government for $400 million plus a required overrun guarantee, as well as $25 million of in-kind services from Victoria municipalities.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James says she has some concerns about the Games’ budget.
“There are a number of red flags. One of them being that, in fact, the province would have to take the liability on,” James said. “So any kind of cost overruns would be the responsibility of the province.
And that’s a big concern.”
But the chair of the Victoria Commonwealth Games bid committee, David Black, says he will address any concerns.
“We’re asking B.C. for $400 million plus the overrun guarantee that is required. That’s always required. It’s always done by the province,” Black said. “Obviously one of Carole James points will be, she’ll look me in the eye and say, David, prove to me that there’ll never be an overrun. And I’ll be able to do that.”
The budget in the business plan includes $42 million for a new stadium, $30 million for a new arena, $30 million for a new field house and $60 million for an athletes? village in Langford.
The idea is not going over well with the Greater Victoria Grumpy Taxpayers. The non-profit citizen?s advocacy group is dedicated to lowering taxes and more accountable municipal government.
Vice-chair John Treleaven said there is not enough transparency to the bid.
“We the taxpayers, you and I, deserve public discussion about request for our hard-earned dollars,” said Treleaven.
Out of all the project facilities outlined in the business plan, 60 per cent of the proposed Games venues are existing facilities that would require no permanent work and 15 per cent would require some permanent work, including the Saanich Commonwealth Pool.
Twenty-five per cent of the venues would be new permanent facilities. These include University of Victoria pitches where field hockey would be held, the regional arena, a regional field house, a regional stadium and the student residences (athletes? village) in Langford.
The committee estimates visitors, operations spending and new capital investment will add more than $2 billion to Vancouver Island?s economy over the next five years.
Black said the new arena would have a similar seating capacity of the Save On Foods Memorial Arena, although some of the seating could be temporary. The Games would create $600 million in new mixed housing, according to the business plan.
It also said in the business plan that one of Victoria?s advantages is ?that good security can be achieved at a lower cost than in most cities in the world,” as the city and the entire Island have not had any terrorist activity to date. However, the plan said there would be a plan in place for the worst case.
The deadline for the bid is Sept. 30 but Black said the committee is likely to ask for an extension.
Commonwealth Games Business Plan