Council voted 8-2 on Wednesday for city staff to continue exploring 2030 Olympic bid
Vancouver council voted 8-2 on Wednesday to maintain the city’s participation in a potential bid for the 2030 Winter Games, despite strong warnings from city staff about unanswered questions largely related to cost organization of an event estimated at 4 billion dollars.
The Board asked staff to work together to advance negotiations on a multi-party agreement with the four First Nations leading the bid, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Paralympic Committee and provincial governments. and federal.
“It’s not a decision whether or not you support the Olympics in the future,” the adviser said. Rebecca Bligh explaining her support for the city to stay involved. “We cannot abandon the process at this point, and we cannot expect the process to move forward without us.”
This process began in December 2021 when the city signed a memorandum of understanding with Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish First Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Lil’wat Nation and Whistler to consider whether an offer was feasible.
The COC then joined the group to explore a bid and its chair, Tricia Smith, was at town hall on Wednesday with leaders of the four host nations to urge the council to allow work to continue on a deal she s expects to be achieved before the end of the year.
If a bid is accepted, it is expected to be sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) early in the new year with a decision from the IOC in May 2023.
“It’s important that staff continue this work,” Smith said, noting that Whistler approved a motion on Tuesday for its staff to continue negotiating on advancing the offer. “It is important to have this orientation. It also tells the province the level of city support, which is critical.
So far, the provincial and federal governments have not indicated support for any bid. B.C. Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Melanie Mark recently wrote a letter to Smith in which she raised concerns about the costs and agreements associated with a bid.
A Vancouver staff report released last week recommended council put a hold on a decision on a potential bid, citing numerous unknowns related to costs, benefits, governance and whether the city would be compensated for cost overruns.
Deputy City Manager Karen Levitt brought many of those concerns to council on Wednesday, including the heavy workload staff have already undertaken regarding Vancouver being one of the host cities of the FIFA World Cup 2026.
Vancouver will host the 2023 Laver Cup international tennis tournament, the 2025 Invictus Games and potentially a future Formula E race car event. Staff are also planning for the October 15 municipal elections and preparing for what City Manager Paul Mochrie described as a “difficult” budget for 2023.
Levitt noted that negotiations to finalize a decision on an offer will also involve Adams Lake Indian Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band, Neskonlith Indian Band and Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc. Other cities such as Richmond, Kamloops and the Municipality of Sun Peaks Mountain Resort are also interested in the Games.
“We therefore believe that with so many parties, and with the complexity, importance and size of what is being negotiated under the multi-party agreement, we cannot seek a negotiating mandate from the council at this time. “, she said.
“We just don’t have enough information to begin to inform what we would be offering and asking for through this negotiation.”
The council’s decision on Wednesday came after leaders of the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish First Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Lil’wat Nation lined up at the council chamber lectern to criticize the staff for posting the report last week which strongly called into question the city’s ability to participate in a bid.
‘Punch in the stomach’
Chief Wayne Sparrow of the Musqueam Indian Band likened the release of the report to “a punch in the stomach” and questioned why the concerns raised by city staff were not communicated directly to the nations and the COCs.
“I’m a little upset with some of the comments or some of the remarks that have been made,” said Sparrow, who addressed the council after Levitt gave a presentation on the city’s challenges moving forward. with an application.
Sparrow, who wore a ceremonial headdress as he stood at the lectern, used the metaphor of the city joining the four nations on a canoe journey and said there was more to paddling to reach their destination.
He urged council to stay in the dinghy and not jump.
“Tipping in our canoe”
Elected Chief Jen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation continued the metaphor, saying, “I feel like right now we’ve rocked in our canoe. When we rock our canoe, we support each other and help each other up. I am here to do.
At the end of the meeting, Wilson Williams of the Squamish Nation thanked council for asking staff to continue working on a potential offer, saying “the waters and currents have calmed down” following morning concerns raised. by leaders.
“I really appreciate that we are now stronger for what we have overcome,” said Williams, an adviser representing his nation. “If we fight against the tides, then the tide goes out and we come out with it. So we move forward. »
Com. Pete Fry spoke about the staff concerns outlined in the report.
“I know it might seem like we’re doing a 180 from the advice the staff gave us, but I think we’ve landed in a thoughtful place,” he said.
Com. Sarah Kirby-Yung said, “I understand we’ve just come out of three very difficult years of COVID, and people are tired, and there’s a lot going on. But I also know, boy, do we need something to uplift us too, and we need a positive. So hopefully we can get there.
Election related vote fails
Councilors Colleen Hardwick and Jean Swanson voted against staff continuing to participate in a potential bid, with Hardwick trying unsuccessfully to tie a Games vote to the Oct. 15 election.
Swanson’s reasons were based on the cost of hosting the Olympics and how that money – the city spent more than $500 million on the 2010 Games – could be used to build homes for them. homeless and a healing center for aboriginal women.
“I would love to award an Olympic medal to someone who does these things,” Swanson said.
No date was given on Wednesday when the staff would return with an updated report on the offer. If a report comes back after the Oct. 15 election, it would likely mean a new council deciding next steps; the current council is still technically in government until an inauguration in November.