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.