David Black speaks at a 2017 news conference urging B.C. to bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games, after serving as a director for the 1994 event hosted by Victoria. (Black Press Media files)

David Black speaks at a 2017 news conference urging B.C. to bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games, after serving as a director for the 1994 event hosted by Victoria. (Black Press Media files)

OP-ED: B.C. tourism needs a boost from 2026 Commonwealth Games

‘Far more profitable’ than 1994 event hosted by Victoria

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

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 many local businesses, and promote tourism worldwide. But after 2026, B.C.’s tourism will increase dramatically because 2 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 do not 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 received $2 billion of taxes from the tourism businesses. The Games will bring that back and no doubt increase tourism by at least 10%. Therefore, the B.C. government will get at least $200 million more in taxes every year after 2026.

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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, several hockey, lacrosse, and cricket fields, a proper 2,000-meter 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 because of the Games will save Victoria, BC, 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 for continued operation.

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.

— David Black is executive chairman of Black Press Media and a director of the 1994 Commonwealth Games hosted in Victoria. He writes on behalf of the bid committee that sought the 2022 Games.

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