Comment: Hosting 2026 Games will bring major benefits to B.C.

A commentary on behalf of the 2026 Commonwealth Games bid team.

COVID-19 has hurt British Columbia badly. It won’t be easy to get our economy moving up again quickly. All countries in the world will race to increase their manufacturing and tourism.

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How will we compete with them? It is simple: Hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games will do it.

During the next few years, the Games will employ a lot of people, support a lot of local businesses and promote tourism worldwide. But after 2026, B.C.’s tourism will increase dramatically because two billion people will watch our sport-streaming online. Two billion people.

We will continue to show beautiful summer pictures and videos of Victoria, Vancouver, B.C. and Canada on the streams for three weeks, and it will result in a big increase in tourism and in more international students over the next 10 to 20 years.

B.C. needs that. If we don’t do it, B.C. and its cities and towns will have huge deficits because all tourist facilities will be in trouble.

B.C. had $22 billion of tourism in the year before COVID-19 and the B.C. government got $2 billion of taxes from the tourism businesses. The Games will bring that back and no doubt increase tourism by at least ­10 per cent. Therefore, the B.C. government will get at least $200 million more in taxes every year after 2026.

The 2026 Commonwealth Games will be far larger and more profitable than the 1994 Games we hosted in Victoria.

We are proposing a budget of $1 billion. The money will be provided by the Canadian and B.C. governments as well as from streaming advertising.

The governments will get back half their contributions in taxes as the billion dollars are spent in the lead-up to 2026, and then earn more from increased tourism in subsequent years. Municipalities and local citizens will not have to fund any part of the budget.

We will build up to 2,000 new apartments for the 8,000 Games athletes, by providing the required down payments. The mortgages we arrange will be paid off by ongoing affordable rentals after the Games.

We will build another Commonwealth pool, another major ice arena with a European-sized rink, a major fieldhouse, a new cycling track, a number of hockey, lacrosse and cricket fields, a proper 2,000-metre rowing facility, and many other facility improvements and ­additions.

We will have one Games sport in Vancouver, two in Richmond, and at least one in every Victoria municipality. We will provide funds for each municipality as a result, and all citizens will enjoy being closer to the sport competitions than we were able to achieve in 1994.

There will be more than $100 million provided for wages and more than $300 million for payments to local businesses.

We will provide $25 million for all the Games festivals which will include our artists, musicians, Indigenous people and others.

The Games and their facilities will also be wonderful for our athletes and the following generations of British Columbians.

The housing and the new sport facilities built will surely be required as Victoria continues to grow. Doing it as a result of the Games will save Victoria, B.C. and locals from having to pay for it themselves over the next 20 years. After the Games, they will be transferred for free to the municipalities and ­universities.

In summary, the 2026 Commonwealth Games will help our province, its businesses and its citizens enormously.

We are optimistic that the B.C. government will agree in principle.

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