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BC government failed to update Olympic impact estimate

The British Columbia government failed to make use of a tool that would have allowed it to “easily” update its estimate of the economic activity likely to come from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, according to the response to a freedom of information request.

In 2002 InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. wrote a report for the B.C. government estimating the economic activity from the Games. The consultants recognized the estimates would shift, so they gave the government the tool to update their figures as needed, the report said.

"InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. provided the British Columbia Trade and Investment Office with a new version of the economic impact model," the consultants wrote. "The new model can easily be updated to estimate the economic impact of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games as additional new information becomes available."

The Tyee made a request under the freedom of information act for all records related to the model the report referred to, or for any other records generated using other models to address the same questions.

The ministry that in 2002 had the model forwarded the FOI request to the 2010 Winter Games Secretariat in Ida Chong's healthy living and sport ministry. That ministry responded, “Secretariat staff conducted a search for records responsive to your request; however, no responsive records were located.”

In November the Tyee reported that the government had stopped saying the Games would generate $10 billion in economic activity and had started using the figure $4 billion. After the story was published, finance minister Colin Hansen insisted the impact would be “billions and billions” of dollars, but declined to offer a firmer number.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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