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.

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3 responses to “Vancouver Activist Sums It Up

  1. Why would an Olympic bid have the money come out of taxpayer money. Canada’s not corrupt. USA isn’t corrupt. I’m pretty disappointed with you guys. You are fucking liars.

  2. Grateful to No Games

    Every day I talk to people who are relieved Chicago will not be the site of the 2016 Olympics.

    This just in from the Tribune on the 2014 Winter Games in Russia…

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-ap-oly-2014-sochi-environment,0,4014170.story
    chicagotribune.com
    UN criticizes Russia for ignoring ecological impact of 2014 Sochi Olympics building projects

    DAVID NOWAK

    Associated Press Writer

    1:54 PM CDT, March 15, 2010
    Click here to find out more!

    MOSCOW (AP) — The United Nations has criticized Russia for ignoring the ecological impact of construction projects for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

    In a report obtained Monday by The Associated Press, the United Nations Environment Program says government assessments do not take into account the effects the various projects will have on the region’s unique wildlife.

    The report is to be published Tuesday and is based on the U.N. program’s three-day trip to Sochi in January.

    Russia’s dated Black Sea resort of Sochi is under the spotlight as the next Winter Olympics host. As constructors set about building all facilities from scratch, environmental activists say the ecosystems have already sustained irreversible damage and bird and bear habitats have been destroyed. The government says it is aware of the concerns and accuses the activists of trying to sabotage the games as a public relations stunt.

    The Sochi Games are a pet project of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who broke tradition to deliver a speech in English to the International Olympic Committee in 2007 during the bidding stage. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined immediate comment, saying he hadn’t seen the UNEP report.

    The “Sochi 2014 Report of the UNEP 2nd Expert Mission” was based on the body’s three-day trip to Sochi in January, which involved visits to various sites considered sensitive along the construction path of a combined road and rail link that connects a coastal facilities with a mountain facilities.

    The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace Russia say the chief environmental threat is to the Mzymta River, which the communications link is set to follow. Thousands of beech trees have been felled to clear the path for the link.

    UNEP also said Sochi organizers were delaying political decisions that would mitigate and compensate for the environmental fallout of the games.

    “The mission observed that decisions taken at the political level … are taking too long,” the report said. The report cited such projects as the enlargement of Sochi National Park, better protection of the Mzymta valley, and the creation of new protected areas along the Black Sea coast that would host migratory birds.

    The WWF and Greenpeace recently suspended their co-operation as consultants for Olympstroi, the state-run constructor, in protest that their concerns were being ignored.

    The UNEP report urged both the activists and the government to continue cooperating, saying there was a “reluctance to engage with or even listen to each other’s calls for actions from both sides.”

    The UNEP recommended a “comprehensive assessment of the overall impact of the Olympic and tourism projects on the ecosystem.” UNEP added that the activists’ concerns sparked the decision to visit Sochi and produce a report.

    The Sochi Games are adopting a unique “cluster” strategy. A coastal cluster of arenas will host skating sports, and a mountain cluster will handle skiing, snowboard and other events.

    Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-ap-oly-2014-sochi-environment,0,4014170.story

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