Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Not enough bang for Olympic buck 0

By Laila Yuile, The Duel

The Olympic cauldron on the Vancouver waterfront. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

The Olympic cauldron on the Vancouver waterfront. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

In the world of politics, I’m admittedly a neophyte in comparison to many pundits and columnists who have observed and reported on several different governments in B.C. While I’ve always been interested in politics, it wasn’t until approximately 2005 that I really began to study and take notice of how things get done and, more importantly, how things are presented to the public. 

A great example is the statement so often used by our current government when referring to completed projects or major infrastructure — “Delivered on time, on budget.” It’s a catchphrase used so often, no one really questions it or thinks about what that means.

To get to the heart of the matter, you often have to look beyond the press releases and delve into the financials and past announcements. More often than not, what you will find is that throughout the delivery of a project, the budget was actually increased as costs rise, far beyond what the originally announced budget actually was. So, it’s not technically a lie to say it’s on time and on budget — but it’s not exactly the truth either.

Where am I going with this? The 2010 Olympic costs and legacies are great examples of this kind of presentation. The recently released VANOC report states the 2010 games broke even, but the report only refers to direct VANOC costs and revenue. It doesn’t include any of the additional costs to taxpayers at provincial and municipal levels – if indeed it did, the picture may very well be quite different.

No one can argue an upgrade to the Sea-to-Sky highway wasn’t sorely needed, but because the province financed it via a public-private partnership, taxpayers will be paying for that highway for many more years to come. The same holds true for the Canada Line.

Read Brent Stafford's column here

The Vancouver Convention centre quickly became known as yet another “boondoggle” when cost overruns on the project ran nearly $400 million over the original budget. To be frank, there isn’t enough column space to address the plethora of other costs related to the games.

While VANOC itself may have left a legacy of zero debt, it’s disingenuous to say the same applies to the additional costs paid for by Metro Vancouver cities or the province, and any long-term benefits are still questionable. That’s why I disagree and say the costs of putting this party on for the world to see just weren’t worth it.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.

 

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