The B.C. government is reviewing earlier estimates that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler will create an economic impact in British Columbia worth $10.7 billion, Finance Minister Colin Hansen said Wednesday.
The worldwide recession will hit the Olympics, Hansen said, but just how hard has yet to be determined.
The results of the review will be made public, but until then Hansen said he is taking a positive outlook. The Opposition New Democrats, however, are saying he should face reality and accept that the world and British Columbia are caught in an economic downturn.
Last month, the provincial government trumpeted the benefits of the Olympics in its throne speech and budget.
The Games were expected to create a multibillion-dollar windfall for British Columbia, generating enough financial muscle to propel the province into becoming one of the strongest economies in Canada.
High ticket demand seen
"The $10 billion that is used is based on a study that was done a couple of years ago by RBC [Royal Bank of Canada]," said Hansen. "Given the demand for tickets that is obviously out [there], there's no reason that number should be diminished."
But Hansen did not say the $10.7 billion estimate originally came from a 2002 study by Intervistas Consulting, which was commissioned by the B.C. government to explore the Games' possible economic benefits.
Hansen said the current economic impact study is still underway.
"I'm not exactly sure of the timeline, but there is a new study that's being done to try to update some of the economic impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," he said.
Hansen admitted the recession "will obviously have some impact."
NDP Olympics critic Harry Bains said the time has come for a re-evaluation of the economic estimates associated with the Olympics.
"All the experts in the world will tell you that we are in recession," he said. "The numbers that he [Hansen] floats around, $10.7 billion, were put together before they [the government] admit that we were in a recession, so I think there is a serious need to update those numbers."
The Liberal government has forecast deficit budgets for 2009 and 2010, but expects the province will be back in the black by 2011.