Feb 2010 9

Olympics Polarise Opinion

Posted by

With the Winter Olympics truly centre stage for the coming weeks supporters and opponents are fiercely contesting their own slanging match.

Games supporters are crowing over the positive knock-on effects for Vancouver and B.C., citing a new metro line, the Sea to Sky Highway and an ambitious plan to be the world's greenest city by 2020.

But opponents counter by claiming that the original cost of 730 million US dollars to host this weeks' Games - an amount further swollen by the 955 million needed for security - could have been better spent on easing the problems of the city's poor and homeless.

Wherever you go in the city, opinions are sharply-divided.

"Projects such as the Canada line metro, the Sea to Sky highway and the renovation of the centre have been accelerated by our candidature," says Paul Anderson, director of Olympic operations at the Vancouver local authority.

The Canada line, opened in 2009, is expected to carry between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors from the airport to the city centre. Stadia, such as BC Place, which will stage the opening and closing ceremonies, and the UBC Thunderbird arena, the principal ice hockey venue, have been built from scratch or refurbished.

But critics point to problems in the build-up with Olympics infrastructure. The 875 million Canadian dollar (819 million US dollar) athletes village needed financial help from the city of Vancouver last year when the New York-based lender cut off funding.

Authorities angered taxpayers by working out a 500 million dollar loan to complete construction, which includes 1,100 housing units earmarked for convertion to public housing after the Games.

Reports suggested that around a third of the 736 housing units targetted for private ownership were snapped up before the global economic recession took hold. And agents hope that after the Games, units will be sold at prices ranging from 485,000 US dollars to almost 10 million.

In Whistler, property at the village is selling faster, with 90 per cent snapped up already, says local mayor Ken Melamed.  

Leave a Reply

* required