Olympic Legacy Fund 

By Loreth Beswetherick

Until an announcement is made in 2001 on whether Toronto will get the 2008 summer Olympic Games, the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Winter Olympic bid will stay on the backburner.

This was the agreement with the Canadian Olympic Committee, says Ian Waddell, minister responsible for small business, tourism, culture and sports. It does, however, make fund-raising in the interim a challenge for the bid corporation.

"We are hoping once there is a decision with Toronto, our bid will get on the front burner and it will start going. However, I have a responsibility to keep it going and I think the right place to begin is with the athletes."

To this end, Waddell last week announced a provincial commitment of $3 million over two years, the bulk of which will go to the Legacies Now program to support young B.C. athletes.

It’s a legacy, said Waddell, that will be left whether or not the bid is successful – unlike traditional legacy initiatives that come after the Games have been hosted.

He said $2.5 million will go to a four-year sport development program designed to prepare the next generation of B.C. Olympians.

Legacies Now will benefit athletes from introductory level to Olympic level and will include training programs for both summer and winter sports, regional centres of sports excellence in Vancouver, Victoria, Abbotsford, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Prince George, plus a chance to bring international competitions to the province prior to 2010.

"We want to give young athletes early access to world-class training facilities. We want to get as many B.C. athletes into the Olympics as we can," said Waddell.

"We are hoping that the private sector can match this with another $2.5 million so we will have $5 million we can put into the training and support of young athletes throughout the province," said Waddell. "This is important because, in order to get public support for the bid, we think we need public support from throughout the province, as well as in Vancouver and Whistler. We think we are in the process of laying a strong foundation for our bid."

Should the Legacies Now program prove successful, there is a possibility it could be extended beyond four years, noted Waddell.

The province and the bid corporation have established a steering committee to oversee implementation of Legacies Now programs across the province. Members of the committee are: Marion Lay, chair of the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 bid corporation; Janis Ostling, vice-chair of B.C. Sport; and Charles Parkinson, director of sport development.

The remaining $500,000 will go into a contingency fund which will be used to address any problems that may arise out of the bid.

"There are land use questions up in the Callaghan Valley, for example," said Waddell. "We also have transportation issues… and we may have to do some studies."

He said the fund will enable the province to identify issues and act quickly.

It has been estimated the bid will cost between $20 million and $25 million, while capital costs for new facilities – including a speed skating oval, a bob sleigh/luge track and Nordic facilities – is estimated at $240 million.

Waddell said he expects corporate sponsors to play a major role in financing the Games.

"We are asking the bid corporation to raise money," said Waddell. "They have got to raise the money and I want them to be having dinners and doing the traditional fund-raising because it involves the community and it will show what community support you’ve got."

Waddell said successful Games have always been a team effort and that team includes municipal and provincial governments and later the federal government, plus the private sector and the communities.

He said should Toronto be ruled out as a Canadian Olympic host, it will be easier to attract national sponsors. If the Toronto 2008 bid is successful, it makes it highly unlikely the Games will be given to Canada again in 2010.

Other contenders, to date, for the 2010 Winter Games are Sarejevo, Helsinki, Korea and possibly Japan.

Bids could also come out of Chur, a major city in the Swiss canton of Graubünden which has asked Zurich to help host ice hockey and figure skating while the rest of the events are proposed for the nearby resorts of Davos, Klosters, Arosa, St. Moritz, Lenzerheide and Films/Laax.

A Munich-Garmisch alliance is also reportedly preparing a bid.

Other European cities that vied for the 2006 Winter Games could also recycle their efforts and make a go for the 2010 nomination.

Waddell said the bid corporation is currenlty working to understand the new bid process. "CEO Don Calder has been following closely the new Olympic process and we have been working on getting a good ethical committee in place."

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