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Hosting 2030 Winter Olympics in B.C. estimated to cost $1.2B in public funds

Events would be hosted in Whistler, Metro Vancouver and Sun Peaks
A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Indigenous-led team working on a bid to bring the 2030 winter Olympics back to B.C. estimates the games will require around $1.2 billion in public funding.

Adjusted for inflation, the 2010 Games cost $1.9 billion in public dollars.

Events would be spread across Whistler, Metro Vancouver and Sun Peaks. Sun Peaks was chosen as a location to host all freestyle ski and snowboard events to mitigate weather challenges that hampered events at Cypress in 2010.

The plan calls for renewing venues that were used in the 2010 Olympics. This will cost an estimated $299 million to $375 million. In 2010, $513 million was spent on developing venues, adjusted for inflation, the cost today would be $669 million.

Mari Conibear, a member of the feasibility team who previously held the Managing Director of Games Operations position at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, said that estimates include a 25 per cent contingency and a 10 per cent construction contingency for potential cost overruns.

An estimated $165 million to $267 million will be required to contribute to the development of athlete villages. The feasibility team said that investments into the athlete villages will provide development of affordable and market rental housing once the games are over. This is significantly more expensive than the $67 million spent on athlete villages in 2010, which would be $87 million in today’s dollars.

The increased cost is because there will be three athlete villages instead of two.

“Housing is the number one pressing need,” Conibear said. “It could be that housing developments are planned already and this allows us to accelerate those plans.”

Estimated security costs have decreased significantly from 2010. Approximately $900 million was spent on security in 2010, but the estimate for 2030 ranges from $560 million to $583 million. The feasibility team said that this is because of new, targeted approaches to security that relies on new technology and strategies.

Organizational and operating costs would be covered by an estimated $2.5 - 2.8 billion in private funding through sponsorships, broadcasting rights, ticketing, licensing, merchandise and contributions from the International Olympic Committee.

The estimates did not include costs of additional strain on essential government services or discretionary government investments related to the games. The estimate also did not look at legacy funds that might come out of the games.

Conibear estimated that for every dollar of money spent by B.C., five dollars would flow back into the province from other sources.

There’s still a long road ahead for a potential Olympic bid. The feasibility team will work to get the councils of the hosting First Nations and municipalities on board. They will then seek provincial and federal approval to being formal talks with the International Olympic Committee. It’s expected the games will be awarded in late May and early June of 2023.

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