British Columbia

B.C. provincial government lukewarm on Victoria's Commonwealth Games bid

B.C.'s Finance Minister Carole James says she's "very cautious" about supporting Victoria's bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

'I remain very cautious at this point; there’s a lot of due diligence yet to take place'

Victoria, B.C., has put in a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games after original host Durban, South Africa was stripped of the games earlier this year. (Deddeda Stemler/Canadian Press)

Victoria's bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is not getting much love from the provincial government.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said on CBC's On the Island that while she appreciated the bid committee's enthusiasm for the sporting event, she was hesitant about its financial feasibility.

"The fact [is] that the decision has to be made very shortly and there's still not a thorough business case that has come forward," she said.

"I remain very cautious at this point. There's a lot of due diligence yet to take place."

The right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games was awarded to Durban, South Africa in 2015, but, after the host failed to provide financial guarantees, Durban was stripped of the event in March of this year.

The games needed a new host city that could step up quickly — preferably one with all facilties ready to go.

Victoria — which previously hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1994 — announced its bid in June. The 2022 host is expected to be named in the fall.

However, James said the bid will still need provincial support to proceeed — and she's not sure her government will be able to commit to extra costs should they arrise.

"The provincial government takes on the liability for any cost overruns — that's part of the agreement that you sign when you take on the Commonwealth Games," she said.

"So again, unless we have the opportunity to give it the rigour that it needs, unless we have the chance to be really confident, you're talking about $400 million of taxpayer money."

James said her government has many other financial priorities that take precedence, like affordable housing and the recovery efforts from the B.C. wildfires.

"We need to make sure that tax dollars are used and spent wisely in B.C."

The English cities of Liverpool and Birmingham have also made official bids to host the 2022 games.

With files from On the Island