Vancouver council leaves door open to 2030 Olympic bid, as debate over Games repeat heats up

Click to play video: 'Push begins to bring 2030 Winter Games to B.C.'
Push begins to bring 2030 Winter Games to B.C.
WATCH: It's still very much in the starting blocks, but the push to bring the Winter Olympics back to B.C. in 2030 has begun. Ted Chernecki reports. – Mar 31, 2021

The debate over the possibility of Vancouver once again playing host to the world as an Olympic city is heating up.

City councillors accepted a staff report Wednesday on the concept of hosting the 2030 Olympic Winter Games and voted to have staff analyze the potential impacts — including costs — on the city.

The proposal has some high-profile boosters, including former Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games organizing committee CEO John Furlong, who argued bringing the games back to the city should be a no-brainer.

“The real advantage is there’s no cost to build the facilities. We have them. Why would we not use them if we already have them?” he asked.

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The group behind a would-be Olympic bid says it would seek out private sector partners to run the event, preventing taxpayers from ending up on the hook for the bill.

The cost of security, however, would still be up to British Columbians to pay. In 2010, security costs alone were close to $1 billion.

Coun. Jean Swanson — one of three councillors to oppose the initiative at council Wednesday — argued B.C. could have solved its significant drug and homeless problems by now, if it had spent the money that went to the 2010 Games on social initiatives instead.

She said bringing the Games back would once again direct money away from where it is needed, while causing new problems at the same time.

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“We also saw from the 2010 Olympics that it did a lot to increase property values and make housing a lot more unaffordable,” she said.

“It made the housing situation worse by kind of enticing a lot of people from around the world here to buy property and pushing up property values.”

Furlong disagreed, arguing another round of the games would give the province new incentive and tools to tackle those very problems.

“We know here we have a social housing issue, we know we have transportation challenges,” he said.

“So the games, as they did last time, could bring partners together to look at this through the lens, the games are coming, maybe we could solve some of these issues at the same time.”

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