A packed house at the University of Victoria watches the opening ceremonies at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. The region is trying to land the Games for 2022, but at least one municipality is reluctant to support the bid. Photo courtesy University of Victoria

Esquimalt a holdout on region’s Commonwealth Games bid

Council looked for specifics in plan, saw little direct value for Esquimalt

As a Greater Victoria bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games moves toward conversations with the province and federal governments, Esquimalt reminded the public that it has not supported the effort financially.

A previous closed-door decision by Esquimalt city council, revealed this week, saw the local politicians vote against supporting a request for $25 million worth of in-kind services, to be shared proportionately by the Capital Regional District’s 13 municipalities. Mayor Barb Desjardins said the biggest concern for the township was the potential security costs.

Numbers she has heard tossed around in the community have ranged from $100 million to $400 million. “It would mean significant stress on our local police and at this time, we don’t want to support that,” Desjardins said.

But Victoria bid committee chair David Black says the committee plans to ask the federal government to cover the cost of outside security. He noted that security for the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto – a larger event than the Commonwealth Games – cost an estimated $180 million. Experts have told the Victoria committee that the region’s compact geography and the shorter distance between venues and the athletes accommodations, would likely reduce the cost of security, potentially to $50 million.

“When it comes to security, the experts say it is far cheaper to protect a small place and compact facilities than a large metropolitan area with spread-out venues, he said.

Desjardins expressed concern at hearing a proposal without a business plan. “It was kind of, say ‘yes’ now and we’ll figure it out later – and this is public money,” she said. “We have to be accountable to the public as to why we’re going to spend their hard-earned tax dollars.”

Much of the information council based their decision on was gathered by city staff, she added, rather than committee organizers.

Black said the committee has calculated that approximately $17 million of the $955-million estimated cost of staging the Games would be paid by local taxpayers, or roughly about 1.8 per cent, spread across the region. That budget total does not include an estimate for security, he said, as it is unknown at this time.

“There’s lots of benefits to different communities,” Desjardins acknowledged. “I can see why Langford would be interested, they’re looking to build stadiums.”

But for Esquimalt, she said, it was unlikely any events would be held there as previous venues no longer support the size of the Games, and there is little to no room to build new ones. “It was not a decision made lightly.”

For now, Mayor Desjardins remains focused on housing and transportation for the region, two busy files on which projects have slowed due in part to labour shortages. “We don’t want the focus to come off these things to focus on the Games.”

The deadline for Victoria to submit its bid is Sept. 30. Before then the committee needs to secure funding commitments from the provincial and federal governments.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

PHOTO GALLERY: Phillips Backyard Weekender hits all the right notes

Local and international acts keep Victoria crowd cutting a rug

BC GAMES: Victoria athletes hit the podium

Gold, silver and bronze performances in equestrian, kayak, rowing, golf

Victoria man arrested in connection with Hillside murder

Daniel Creagh faces second-degree murder charge in death of Joseph Gauthier

Peace Walk fundraiser for hospice runs on Sunday

Take a walk, have a snack, and help donate to a local charity

Raccoons making themselves at home on Saanich property

Resident blames neighbour for attracting pests to area

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Ping-pong balls of fire dropped to merge two B.C. wildfires

The merger is considered successful by BC Wildfire Services

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Gold medals for Victoria rowers at BC Games

Both girls row out of the Victora City Rowing Club at Elk Lake

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Most Read