2010 Winter Games will cost the taxpayer millions 

VANCOUVER — Hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games will cost taxpayers about $60 million.

Add to that the cost of upgrading the Sea to Sky Highway and the tab rises to $660 million.

While bid organizers are loath to attach the cost of the highway upgrades to the bid they admit it would be hard to have a winning bid without a three-lane highway to Whistler.

"I wouldn’t want to be staging the Games without it being fixed," said Terry Wright, vice president of bid development, at the release of the bid book this week in Vancouver.

The $60 million cost is the difference between the money it takes to stage the Games and the tax revenues expected to be generated by the Games for the provincial and federal governments.

According to the economic reviews done by the provincial government the Games should generate between $600 million and $1 billion.

The Games will cost about $860 million to put on - $620 million in capital costs, $200 million in security and other federal costs and a $40 million subsidy for the Paralympic Games.

If you accept that the Games are likely to produce around $800 million in tax revenues (the median between $600 million and $1 billion) and cost $860, you are left with a $60 million deficit.

The bid book did not include the costs of the proposed Vancouver Convention Centre, which would house the media, or rapid transit to the airport, as they are not essential to hosting the Games.

However most believe having them on the planning books would help Vancouver’s chances of winning the Games.

The Convention Centre is expected to cost $495 million and rapid transit another$1.8 billion.

No Games spokesman Chris Shaw is worried by the global nature of the cost figures, which he believes, are too low.

"When you look at the bid book (the Bid Corp) does not actually give line items for any of the cost," he said.

For example, said Shaw, bid organizers say security is $175 million.

"How is that derived? What did they actually do to come up with a number like that?

"When you don’t see the detailed evaluation you have no way of knowing if that is a realistic estimate.

"I think we can safely anticipate that the numbers are just not right on security and if they have done that on security what have they done elsewhere?

"They really have to break these things down to dollars and cents… How can you evaluate it. It is all pictures of Mounties standing by streams.

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