Monthly Archives: March 2010

Vancouver Activist Sums It Up

Chris Shaw is a professor at the University of British Columbia. He has been one of Canada’s leading anti-games activists. He started his opposition to the 2010 Vancouver games in September of 2002. Here is an excerpt from a column he recently published, “Eight billion dollars got Canadians high on the Olympics. Was it money well spent?

Were our criticisms of VANOC and the games in general valid?

Yes, I think so, and here’s why:

Costs: Absurdly higher than VANOC or any level of government was ready to admit, then or now. The final number will come in north of $8 billion. How much north we may never know due to a rather stunning lack of accountability, hidden funding, massive levels of indirect funding, etc. In other words, the sort of shell game/watch the pea trick that governments facing scrutiny about Olympic costs normally engage in. There is nothing new here historically, hence an utterly predictable outcome.

Financial benefits: Neither macro nor mico-economics support the notion that the Games were a fiscal success for B.C.

At the macro level there is still blathering about long term economic impacts, but these are well within the range of the unknowable.

Up to now, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers impact study pretty much sums it up: All levels of government spent the above $8 plus billions of hard earned taxpayer money to make $1 billion.

Not, to my way of thinking, a particularly astute investment. B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen could be right that the Games will be an economic stimulus in the future, but how would we know this for sure in context to the volatility of the market, real estate, the resource sector, etc.?

Answer: we wouldn’t. Ditto for those who, like me, might try to portray the Games as having hurt the future economy. All we can honestly say is that the dollars put into the Games did not go into other things that might have had greater economic and social impacts. Read the full essay.

No one from the No Games Chicago team would have wanted to write an essay like that in 2016. We are thankful – and so should you be – that no such reflection will be necessary.

Vancouver Citizen Says “Wouldn’t wish Olympics on worst enemy”

This comment was posted to an anti-war email list that we subscribe to.
Our discussions about the Olympics were mooted by events, but in case you are still dreaming about what might-have-been I quote below part of an email I received today from a former student who know lives in Canada (by “former student” don’t imagine a kid.  He is as old as most of the people in this group.)
“Party here is over. I did not participate or even go downtown, even tho I am 15 mins away from it. We will be paying for it for a good few decades no matter what anyone says. Ans it was just announced that we will also have to pay for the security, a bill which is the highest ever in Canada, and the highest ever for an Olympic event. The Feds said they would pay for it, but alas now that the budget has come down from on high, we are left holding that stinking bag. Almost a Billion$$.
“I wouldn’t wish the Olympics on my worst enemy, and happy that Chicago didn’t win. The 8 years it took to build it up saw many businesses go under (because of the road construction). But I did watch a few things, and yes the skating was terrific and of course that last hockey game was a nail biter. I was teaching when that game was on and the class was very edgy. For the most part, they were adult students, so a bit of decorum was followed.”

We hope that some day we can have a discussion of the bid process and why No Games took the positions it did.