The world partied in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games and then left us with the tab.
The financial implications of the Olympics have been a hot-button issue since the event wrapped up last year.
VANOC announced its final budget balanced out at $1.8 billion, but not until an influx of funding from the government and Olympic committee.
Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver is still trying to figure out what to do with the Olympic Village, which has put taxpayers on the hook for nearly $800 million after the city forced the development into receivership due to poor sales and the developer’s inability to pay back loans.
“Dealing with the village has been really tough,” admitted Mayor Gregor Robertson. “It’s a multi-year challenge to build it, refinance, stabilize and now sell the project. It’s a billion dollar project and there’s a lot at risk.”
Robertson is adamant the city can turn the corner on the village, even when a majority of the luxury condos sit empty and reports circulating this week suggest many of them may be sold at heavily discounted prices.
Even with the trouble, Robertson said the Games were worth having.
“If you look at all the positives it generated, it outweighed the cost,” he said, pointing to the $306 million apparently generated through business deals during the Games and the physical legacies left over in form of venues, facilities and community centres.
And then there’s the community spirit the Games instilled.
“How do you put a dollar figure on that?” Robertson asked. “We’ve got really clear legacies and a big positive attitude piece that combine to make (the cost of the Games) a net positive.”
But UBC economist Tsur Somerville warned the public wouldn’t get a clear picture of the costs and benefits for many years.
“These things tend to add up and I wouldn’t trust politicians to gauge it,” he said. “We had a great time and it was a really good experience and that doesn’t factor into it. But you just cannot gauge the Olympics after one year.”