Vancouver 2030 Olympics 'in our grasp': former VANOC CEO John Furlong
VANCOUVER -- The man at the helm of the organizing committee for Vancouver's 2010 Olympics has issued a challenge, calling for the city to officially bid for the 2030 Winter Games.
John Furlong, the former president and CEO of VANOC, told the Vancouver Board of Trade in remarks Thursday morning the 2030 games are "in our grasp" and "we have to decide we want it badly enough."
In an interview with CTV News, he said, "In 2010 we had a vision. We wanted to change the country. We wanted to really lift Canadians up and give them a moment in time."
Furlong also posted an open letter calling the 2030 games a "unifying challenge for the next generation," that could help move Metro Vancouver toward becoming more "liveable," improving our transportation network and our reputation as a "green" city.
"Our report card is good, our reputation is good," Furlong said. "All you have to do is look back at the tapes."
The 2010 Games were widely considered a success in British Columbia, and across Canada, with Canadian athletes winning 14 gold medals.
It was a record for the most golds won by any country at a single Winter Games, though that record was since broken by Germany and Norway.
The bill was widely estimated to reach $7.7 billion, though that includes the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion, and the Canada Line.
Furlong has said in the past the actual cost of the games was closer to $4 billion, and says the games broke even financially.
He acknowledged one of the biggest challenges for a future bid would be tackling housing affordability, though proposed that any new athlete's village that would be built would be part of a "housing solution."
Poll shows most British Columbians support bidding again
Furlong also cited a Research Co. poll, commissioned by CTV News, in which 60 per cent of British Columbians surveyed said they would definitely or probably support bidding again for the Winter Games.
And while he pointed out cities like Sapporo, Japan, and Salt Lake City have also expressed interest, he characterized a competition with Vancouver, where Furlong says we could re-use nearly all the 2010 venues, as "tough."
Tricia Smith, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, called Furlong's challenge "pretty inspiring.
"Whether it's Vancouver, whether it's Quebec, it needs to have vision of what we are going to do with this opportunity," Smith said. "It's not just about hosting a games, it's about more than that."
And while Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart called it a "fun idea," he also expressed reservations, citing the housing and opioid crises, and homelessness.
He also indicated that the city should hold a referendum before any bid could move forward.
A referendum in Calgary in 2018 killed the city's possible bid for the 2026 Winter Games, with 56 per cent of those who voted choosing no.
Stewart added he would defer toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan, but would join them if they decided to pursue.
But Horgan told reporters on Thursday that while he would take a look at a "credible bid," it would need to come from the city and community, and wouldn't be something the province would initiate.
And when asked what financial help Victoria might be willing to chip in, he quipped: "I'll have to go back to the finance minister and see what we have in the budget for hypothetical bid processes 10 years from now."
Furlong said one of the reasons the Calgary bid failed was because of a "debate over the pros and cons" that never really settled on a vision.
"Everyone needs to come to the table and say, 'This is something we want to do.'"