On Scene

And now, words about sponsors . . .
February 21, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon

Sunday, Feb. 21

Now for a word from our sponsors, or how about a few words about our sponsors. As much as VANOC, the IOC and assorted and sundry world media can pontificate about the purity of sport and how the Olympics builds healthy minds and bodies 57 different ways, the reality is that there’s a lot of money changing hands here and if weren’t for those folks with deep pockets there wouldn’t be an Olympics, no matter how much virtue is at stake.

ON There are those who won the bidding war to be named the “official supplier” of just about every imaginable product and/or service to the Olympics and there are those who did not.  The chosen ones have their corporate logos splashed everywhere in proximity to the Olympics. To ensure that the official sponsors were given their due, VANOC went so far as to buy up all outdoor advertising in metro Vancouver and up the Sea To Sky corridor to Whistler, including all advertising on all forms of transit, with the understanding that VANOC would then re-sell this space to the various Olympic sponsors – the problem there being this little recession we have weathered over the past year or so, which seems to have “negatively impacted” some of the sponsors. There’s a major auto company that comes to mind.

Another fiscal irony of these Olympics is that the people who own the actual ski hills at Whistler and Cypress Bowl will be compensated by VANOC for the potential revenue that will be lost from their normal operations for the period during which they have given their facilities over to the Olympics. The irony is that the parent companies of both these facilities are controlled by development companies. Intrawest, the company that owns the Whistler-Blackcombe facility is in bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. and the property may be auctioned off in the coming week to satisfy creditors demands.

The City of Vancouver was forced to take over both the management and financing of the Olympic Village project in Vancouver at the eleventh hour. The units in the village will be sold off as market housing at the conclusion of the Olympics. The city will be trying to sell some very expensive real estate in a very tough market. This is a city that is in tough already with its finances, having eliminated 20 positions on the fire department and 35 positions on the police department in the current fiscal year.

The provincial government opened a new session of the legislature the week before the Olympics – the same provincial government that saw the economy of the province take a nose dive over the past two years,  the same provincial government that legislated BC Ambulance paramedics back to work at the last minute so it would be available for the Olympics. That one-year contract will be up in six weeks and it won’t be pretty this time around.

Our federal government – those missing kids from Ottawa – is the same government that the auditor-general cited last year as having done nothing to further emergency planning and preparation in this country after the passage of the Emergency Management Act of 2005. 

Just remember that these three levels of government will be picking up the tab for this 17-day party for years to come, using money that might well have gone to front line emergency services and emergency management.

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