As the 2010 Olympics wind down in Vancouver, commentators and sports fans will be reviewing the footage and sorting through the performances, includng the death of one athlete. But here’s one statistic that will likely haunt the citizens there for some time to come – one billion. That’s how much debt the city is facing – that we know of. From the New York Times:
As for Vancouver’s municipal government and the taxpayers, the bad news is already in. The immediate Olympic legacy for this city of 580,000 people is a nearly $1 billion debt from bailing out the Olympic Village development. Beyond that, people in Vancouver and British Columbia have already seen cuts in services like education, health care and arts financing from their provincial government, which is stuck with many other Olympics-related costs. Many people, including Mrs. Lombardi, expect that more will follow.
While the mood in the city has picked up since the start, when many people were suffering a severe case of buyer’s remorse, the looming budget realities make it unlikely that all will be forgiven or forgotten.
“While it’s very hard to see all the costs, I think people are going to pay for it for a long time,” said Lee Fletcher as he walked past several flowering cherry trees near his apartment outside Stanley Park, a large tract of forest tucked up against the city’s downtown. “Some people are going to benefit hugely, not the average guy. The average guy is going to see his taxes increase.”
As the cheers fade and the crowds return home, the residents of Vancouver will have to sort out the consequences of hosting the games. We wish them well.