Commonwealth Games Canada’s CEO says Victoria is the country’s only bidder for the 2022 Games, despite Vancouver being mentioned by the organization’s lobbyist.
But, if Victoria is chosen by the Commonwealth Games Federation this fall, Brian MacPherson said venue sites may be subject to change, based on government support and priorities.
“We’re fully committed and working with Victoria at the moment,” MacPherson told theBreaker in an interview. “If and when we can sit down with the B.C. government, and if they’re supportive of this, if they have other options, we’d be more than happy to listen to them.”
Robin MacLachlan of Summa Strategies registered June 27 with the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, intending on “Engaging political decision-makers in government and opposition with respect to support for bids from Vancouver and Victoria for the hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.” John Horgan was listed as the only lobbying target. The NDP leader and Victoria area MLA became Premier-designate two days later when the BC Liberal government fell on a confidence vote.
CGF fired 2022 host Durban, South Africa in March for missed deadlines. Newspaper publisher David Black announced the Victoria bid on June 7. Birmingham and Liverpool are seeking the U.K. nod, while 1998 host Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is also pondering a bid.
theBreaker reported that Burnaby had explored a bid, but Mayor Derek Corrigan deemed it too ambitious and risky. Burnaby’s deliberations included the possibility of holding opening and closing ceremonies at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.
MacPherson said full support from all three levels of government is necessary. The bidding deadline is Aug. 31.
“As soon as we know there’s support from the B.C. government there will be tri-level government discussions towards a multi-party agreement, starting immediately,” he said. “The federal government is supportive of having a Canadian bid and hosting the 2022 Games. That was our first step, to gauge their level of support.”
Capital Regional District directors voted June 28 behind closed doors to support the bid “subject to a proper business plan being presented and approved by local governments and institutions, in public.” The Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria have complained to the B.C. Ombudsperson.
Black did not announce a budget estimate for Victoria 2022. MacPherson said the goal for bidders is something on par with Glasgow 2014’s operations budget of $700 million. He conceded that governments would bear other, non-organizing committee costs, such as regional security and cleaning of streets. The security bill for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was $900 million.
Reusing venues from the 1994 Commonwealth Games is key to the Victoria plan, as would transforming hangars, studios and warehouses into temporary sport venues.
“We don’t want to build anything new, unless we have to,” he said.
A major capital expense would be the athletes’ village, which could be built at the University of Victoria. MacPherson said the CGF is open to alternatives, to avoid a $1 billion complex like the one Vancouver built for the 2010 Winter Olympics. That developer was bailed out before the Games and then put into receivership after the Games.
The Commonwealth Games have doubled in size and scope since Victoria hosted 23 years ago when 2,557 athletes from 63 nations who competed in 10 sports. At Glasgow 2014, 71 nations sent 4,497 athletes to compete in 18 sports. By comparison, Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics featured 2,566 athletes from 82 nations in seven sports.
Vancouver 2010 organizers claimed to have balanced a budget of nearly $2 billion, but B.C.’s auditor general never did a final report and the Games board minutes and books are hidden from the public until 2025.
Chris Shaw, the former leader of the No Games 2010 Coalition, now lives in Victoria and he said in a recent interview with theBreaker that citizens must be allowed to decide the fate of the bid in a binding referendum.
UPDATE (July 11): Black has added four big names to his committee, including ex-Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong.
Furlong has been under a cloud since September 2012 when the Georgia Straight revealed omissions and inconsistencies in his post-Olympic memoir, Patriot Hearts. Several of his ex-students accused him of abuse. Furlong was not charged, none of the abuse allegations was tested in court and he did not sue any of the accusers. He withdrew a defamation lawsuit against the Georgia Straight and writer Laura Robinson, but Robinson’s defamation trial against Furlong failed.
Joining Furlong are ex-Victoria 1994 CEO George Heller, ex-federal sport minister Iona Campagnolo, and former Own the Podium CEO Roger Jackson.