Commonwealth Games offer golden opportunity

Greater Victoria has a tremendous opportunity in front of it right now.

Should the region earn the right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Victoria would not only benefit from the influx of visitors and mass media exposure that accompanies one of the largest international multi-sport events in the world, it could see needed infrastructure projects completed at a relatively minimal cost to local residents.

There are still many questions to be answered — nailing down such things as the end cost to area taxpayers, the level of security required and the cost of constructing new venues where needed are critical to finding support to stage any large sporting event.

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But it’s still very early in the process and the finer details, such as security needs and costs – which the committee will ask the federal government to cover – are still being fleshed out.

There is widespread municipal support for attempting to land the Games – most councils support the committee presenting its financial case to the province, federal government and ultimately the Commonwealth Games Federation. But residents polled by Black Press are largely on board with the idea as well.

A recent survey saw 70 per cent of decided residents answer ‘yes’ to the question, “Are you supportive of Greater Victoria putting forward a proposal to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games?”

“That’s an extraordinary high number for this point in time,” says committee chair and Black Press owner David Black, who was heavily involved in Victoria’s 1994 Games, which he notes made a $20-million profit. “Often with these things the best you can hope for is 50 per cent [support] in the early stages.”

Black Press will conduct another survey to give the committee a better picture of public support for the bid.

In recent weeks, Black says, the committee has received letters of support from provincial and national sport organizations, whose athletes stand to gain tremendous training and competitive opportunities. The 1994 Games resulted in eight national training centres being located in our area, and more could follow should Greater Victoria win the bid to host again.

Unlike Vancouver, which saw its 2010 Winter Games Olympic athletes village become a trendy, high-end neighbourhood, the plan here is to have athletes’ dorms converted to much-needed affordable housing.

All in all, Black says, the short and long-term benefits of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games far outweigh the costs and make this bid an endeavour the entire community can feel good about supporting.

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