There’s no stopping David Black when it comes to seeing Greater Victoria take its best shot at hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Given a firm ‘not now’ in August by B.C. Finance Minister Carole James on the matter of the province agreeing to provide $400 million in funding for the Games, as well as a financial guarantee for any potential cost overruns, the Victoria bid committee chair immediately launched Plan B.
That entailed putting together a team of 10 local business leaders who have personally guaranteed any cost overrun. Besides himself, others in the group include retired car dealer Bob Saunders, McDonald’s restaurants owner Ken Taylor and former Westshore Rebels president Doug Kobayashi.
“Private individuals are stepping up to take on cost overrun guarantees, which is proof positive that there won’t be one,” Black said, adding that no successful business person would voluntarily take such a risk on if they felt there was a chance of it happening.
Black, who owns community news media company Black Press (publisher of the News), has previously stated that the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria made a profit of $20 million. He indicated that the 2022 Games could make a profit of as much as $75 million.
The financial contributions of the provincial and municipal governments have also been adjusted, based on an economic impact assessment by University of Victoria business professor Brock Smith.
No line item is needed in the budget update being prepared by the NDP for presentation next week in the legislature, Black noted.
“We’re talking $25 million a year for five years,” he said. “That’s one-twentieth of one per cent of their annual budget.”
The other $275 million in the $400 million request of the province would be recouped as tax revenue, according to Smith’s research, which used expected job increases as a basis. Information from the bid committee budget, 1994 Games attendance figures and B.C. Statistics and Statistics Canada figures saw Smith determine that municipalities stand to make an additional $102.4 million in property tax revenue if the region were to host the 2022 Games.
While he admitted that meeting with James anytime soon appears to be out of the question, given her workload on the budget, Black said there is some flexibility in the bid process.
The committee has to submit its bid book by Sept. 30 to the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The federation plans to review the bids in October and invite bidders to make a presentation in London in November. The final decision isn’t expected until sometime the following month.
“[James] could always change her mind and back out right up until December,” Black said.
Localized polling done recently on the West Shore found 65 per cent of respondents in favour of Victoria hosting the Games. That pairs up with the roughly 70 per cent from surveys done before the government turned down the funding request.
“I do think that that 65 per cent will jump up over the next few weeks as we get the word out,” Black said.
“This is the right thing to do from a political point of view and from a policy point of view because it brings so much money to town.”