DAVID BLACK: Facilities and legacies a big part of 1994 Games

Similar additions to local recreation infrastructure possible with another Games in Victoria

Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid committee chair and Black Press owner David Black continues to work toward bringing the competition to the Capital Region. Don Denton/Black Press

This is the fourth in a series of opinion pieces detailing Victoria’s bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The first, second and third opinion columns on the Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid proved the event would be an enormous financial boon for Victoria and B.C. This instalment discusses the facilities and legacy fund generated by the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games, and sets out what we expect from the 2022 Games.

Facilities worth $80 million in today’s dollars were constructed for the 1994 Games, including:

• 809 beds in individual and family housing for the athletes’ village at the University of Victoria, which were converted to student housing afterward;

• the new building, pools, diving tank and workout areas at Saanich Commonwealth Place;

• four new lawn bowling greens and an outdoor velodrome at Juan de Fuca Recreation;

• upgrades to Centennial Stadium at UVic, which included an international-standard track, all-weather playing field, 2,000 seat grandstand with support space (plus 33,000 temporary seats for the Games) and an equipment storage building; plus a new multi-sport field and field hockey pitch at UVic;

Other improvements saw renovations and upgrading to Claremont secondary’s gymnasium, Esquimalt’s Archie Browning Sports Centre, the Royal Theatre, Mount Newton middle school, Mount Douglas secondary playing fields, Arbutus junior secondary, the Oak Bay secondary training track and the Cordova Bay badminton hall.

The 1994 Games’ sound financial management resulted in a healthy surplus position. Approximately $20 million was put into a legacy fund and $1.8 million in goods and equipment were distributed free to local school districts, Camosun College, provincial sport organizations, community non-profit groups, recreation centres, the Greater Victoria Hospital Society and St. John’s Ambulance, to name a few.

Securing the 2022 Commonwealth Games would also result in the construction of $300 million worth of other new facilities.

Those would include almost 2,000 housing units on the West Shore with an average of two bedrooms each. Also built would be a new regional Vancouver Island stadium built beside the Trans-Canada Highway; a new international-standard swimming pool; a new arena adaptable to North American and international sized ice sheets; a new fieldhouse and running track; two additional international-standard field hockey pitches, plus renovations and upgrades to other community and school facilities required for sport and volunteer training venues, rehearsal spaces, etc.

We expect 2022 would have a financial surplus of $75 million, which would be added to the current $25 million legacy fund used to support athletic facilities and sport every year. After the Games, roughly $7 million in goods and equipment would be distributed free to Victoria organizations.

If you support our bid for the Games please let our political leaders know.

David Black is chair of the Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid committee and owner of Black Press, which publishes this newspaper.