Vancouver Olympic committee boasts of surplus

VANOC says the total operating budget for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will total $1.63 billion, about $100 million shy of the original estimate.

The total operating budget for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will total $1.63 billion, about $100 million shy of the original estimate, the organizing committee says.

"Our objective has been to produce a balanced budget with a healthy contingency and we have delivered that plan today," said John Furlong, VANOC's chief executive officer.

"This is the roadmap for three years of hard work ahead. We will continue to work within our available financial resources and we will not spend what we don't have."

VANOC released an interim plan two years ago, but it was never made public. Critics also raised concern last year when the committee received an injection of an additional $110 million from the federal and provincial governments to cover escalating costs of building venues.

Furlong said Tuesday the committee would not be asking for more from the government for the venue construction budget, which is $580 million.

"Our goal all along has been to do the most with the least so we leave the best financial legacy that we can," he said.

VANOC will pay Orca Bay, operators of General Motors Place, $18.5 million to ensurea world-classfacility, but Furlong predicted the building would be a huge revenue generator.

"On the revenue side, this building will generate approximately $70 million in revenue for the Games, making it the largest revenue producer for any venue in Olympic history, other than opening and closing ceremonies," he said.

Coming and going of money

The business plan released Tuesday is a detailed description of where the money is coming from and where it's going.

What it doesn't include are costs the organizing committee is not directly responsible for,such as the $175 million to be spent on security, which is being handled by the RCMP and other federal agencies.

The more than half a billion dollars being spent to upgrade the Sea to Sky Highway is a provincial cost, so it's not included. Neither is the money to improve transit and build a rapid transit line between Vancouver and the city's airport.

The province maintains the work was going to get done anyway, but the International Olympic Committee noted without the improvements, the highway could have stood in the way of Vancouver being awarded the Games.

Furlong acknowledged the debate about what to include as costs and what to omit, but he said "what I'm really trying to do today is not comment on stuff that we're not responsible for in here."

Chris Shaw, of 2010 Watch, a group that has been critical of the Games since the start, accused the committee of trying to have it both ways.

Games 'a catalyst'

At the back of the 196-page business plan document, an appendix dealing with legaciesstates: "The Vancouver 2010 Bid and now the 2010 Winter Games are catalysts to transportation infrastructure improvements that have been on the community agenda for some time. The Games helped set a time-frame for these improvements."

It goes on to list the highway and transit improvements.

"Wait a minute. Hold the phone," Shaw said. "If you're going to include it as legacies, then you're going to have to count it as a cost … This is fun with numbers in the worst possible way."

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler Feb. 12-28, with the Paralympic Winter Games followingMarch 12-21.

With files from the Canadian Press