The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Olympic Vote a Go

In their first regular meeting since being sworn into office, Vancouver city council has voted to hold a plebiscite on the city's bid for the 2010 Olympic winter games. Voters will express whether or not they support the Games on Febrary 22, 2003.

Council chose the option of holding a city-wide poll with voters registering on the day of polling, instead of a formal referendum. The plebiscite is estimated to cost $538,000, which is far more than what Mayor Larry Campbell had estimated during the 2002 civic election campaign.

Before the civic election on November 16th, mayoral candidate and former city councillor Jennifer Clarke had warned that holding a vote on the Olympics would cost as much as $700,000, and aclaimed that Vancouverites already supported the bid. Clarke had argued that if city council wanted to poll Vancouverites on their support for the Olympics, it could be done through a polling company for less that one-tenth the cost of a referendum. City staff had presented this as an option to council; however, it was rejected by the nine-member Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE)majority on council.

Claiming that an election promise was a promise, Mayor Larry Campbell and the rest of the COPE memmbers on council voted in favour of the plebiscite over the objections of Non-Partisan Association (NPA) councillors Peter Ladner and Sam Sullivan. Sullivan and Ladner argued that the plebiscite was an unnecessary expenditure of money and would only threaten the Olympic bid. The two members of the NPA minority also argued that the vote should have been held about four or five years ago, when the bid process was getting underway.

The counter-argument is that the full information on the 2010 bid is only now coming to light. The official bid book has not yet been released; it is scheduled for January 3, 2002. When he first promised to hold a referendum on the Olympics, Larry Campbell said that it would only be held after the full bid book was released. The late February date is about two weeks before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegates visit Vancouver in preparation for the vote to award the Games which is scheduled for July 2003. There had been some concern expressed that holding the referendum during the delegates' visit could leave a negative impression on delegates; mow, when the delegates visit, the results will be known and the campaign, and any potential nastiness, will be over.

The concern that a referendum, regardless of its outcome, would threaten the Vancouver Games bid has been expressed in other quarters. Federal heritage minister Sheila Copps warned last month that a referendum would undermine the International Olympic Committee's confidence in Vancouver's commitment to the Games, and could convice delegates to vote for one of the competitor cities vying to hold the games.

A referendum earlier this year in Berne, Switzerland effectively killed the city's bid for the 2010 Games when nearly 80% of the canton's residents voted against public funds being used to promote the Games bid. Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, are the other two cities that have been shortlisted to host the Games.

Earlier Tuesday, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell reaffirmed his support for the Games bit at a Vancouver Board of Trade leadership workshop. He was joined by Utah Governor Mike Leavitt who said that if his state was given the chance to host the Games again, he'd support it "in a heartbeat."

Gordon Campbell, no relation to the Vancouver mayor, has long been a booster of the 2010 Games bid. For the Premier, the people of B.C. spoke their support for the bid in last year's provincial elections when they swept his Liberals to power in a landslide. Campbell is also quick to point out that the Games bid is not his party's baby; indeed, it was former premier Glen Clark who was one of the Games' biggest boosters in the bid's early days.

However, Vancouver voters also voted in a majority on city council for the Coalition of Progressive Electors, a party whose candidates had expressed their commitment to have a vote on the bid all throughout the campaign.

Mayor Campbell has maintained that he personally supprots holding the Olympics in Vancouver, but that a referendum is necessary. Other members of his party on the council are not as wholeheartedly supportive. Newly elected councillor Jim Green had been one of the main players in the Impact of the Olympics on the Community Coalition (IOCC), a group that some cynics suspect is really opposed to the Games being held in Vancouver. Certainly, the IOCC has enumerated a litany of concerns about the Games' impact on Vancouver, especially on the city's poor.

There are others, though, who do outright oppose the Olympics, led by local activist Phil LeGood. Expect to see the yes, no, and je-ne-sais-quoi sides to duke it out heavily, and for the Games' well-financed backers to mount a spirited campaign in the next two-and-a-half months before the vote is held. If there's anything that the Games' boosters and Larry Campbell can agree on, it's that a strong "Yes" vote would send the message to the Olympic delegates that Vancouver, and its residents, are serious about the commitment to host the 2010 Winter Games.


City of Vancouver report on gauging Vancouverites' opinion on the Games bid

Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid committee

Impact of the Olympics on the Community Coalition - this site is run by a small business operator in Whistler who woders what impact the Games will have in the years leading up to the actual Games.

Salzburg Games website

2010 Pyeongchang
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