Games were lost opportunity

On the same day Greater Victoria’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid committee’s dream to secure the multi-sport and cultural event was squashed by the provincial government, organizers had released a promotional video featuring some of the movers and shakers around the region, as well average citizens.

The project was partially a response to a video call to action created by competing 2022 Games bidder Liverpool.

The goal of the Victoria video was to portray the widespread support for the Games bid among leaders around the Capital Region, and average citizens excited about the prospect of welcoming the world again and gaining improved facilities for use down the road.

Prior to Thursday’s news, David Black, chair of the bid committee and owner of Black Press (which publishes the Westerly News), called the video a “fun creative idea and the start of pulling us all together to put on a great set of Games.”

But the naysayers who felt a Victoria Commonwealth Games was the wrong project at the wrong time given the perceived cost won before that enthusiasm had a chance to grow.

The south Island had a golden opportunity to leverage outside funding to great advantage for the long-term betterment of the community like no time in its history.

The bid’s financial plan estimated an economic influx to the region of as much as $1 billion. That includes not only tourism visits, but things like funding for housing – the athletes village would revert to affordable housing after the Games – transportation projects and improved facilities.

By Black’s calculation, local taxpayers would have been on the hook for no more than $17 million, less than two per cent of the total cost of putting on the Games.

The last Victoria Games in 1994 actually made $20 million, he said, and the legacy fund created from that event continues to grow.

That’s not to mention the boost local athletes received over the past 15 to 20 years by having national training centres and top-notch coaches based here.

This was a case where the benefits clearly outweighed the costs. Support for the bid would have grown as people found out more about the event and what it would have brought.

But it was never given a chance.

Now, all that’s left is a video touting what might have been.

— This editorial is adapted from one that originally ran at www.vicnews.com