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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 15, 2010

Olympics: Report: Vancouver's bill for games more than $500M

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games cost Vancouver only slightly less than it takes to run the city itself for an entire year.

A report going before the city council next week estimates the city spent $727.6 million on infrastructure and operations to host the world for the 27 days of the games.

It recouped $174.5 million of it from the provincial and the federal governments, leaving a bill of $553.1 million.

That doesn't include the cost of taking over the $1 billion Olympic athletes village project after the primary financier balked.

"It is a lot of money," city councilman Geoff Meggs said.

"It's more than I think some taxpayers will expect to see, but on the other side there are some very, very long-term and important legacies."

The lion's share of the expenses were for infrastructure.

The city spent $73.6 million on competition venues, including $12.8 million to convert the curling venue into a community center with a pool.

An estimated $120.6 million was spent on non-competition venues, such as an Olympic street car demonstration line, road repairs and the renovation of theaters.

The biggest chunk was for civic infrastructure at the Olympic village site. The city spent an estimated $299.1 million there, including on a waterfront park, a community center, a heritage facility and 252 units of social housing that are supposed to be part of the project.

The report is the first time city officials have laid out the overall cost of the Games.

Meggs said the haphazard nature of Olympic accounting in the past means there's no way to know whether Vancouver spent more or less than planned.

"If a budget had been developed at this level, perhaps voters would have been fine with it," he said.

The city's overall operational budget for 2010 was $959 million, which included a 2.26 percent tax hike and cuts across the board.

Games organizers' final financial documents won't come until the fall. Their operational budget was $1.75 billion.

The federal government, whose share of the tab includes the $898 million security budget, is also still reviewing its numbers.

The provincial budget of $763 million is also being reviewed with updates that could come as early as the end of the month.

As part of their budget, the province gave Vancouver $6 million to help offset some of their operational costs for the Games, such as increased demand for garbage pickup.

Overall, the city spent $61 million on everything from street banners to policing, and got about half of that back from other levels of government.