On March 2, school trustees for our district will consider the “disposal” of the former Ashcroft Elementary School property, currently leased on a temporary basis to the Ashcroft HUB Society.
Because our local board representative is also the executive director of the HUB, a conflict of interest exists and she will have to recuse herself from this discussion. It is therefore even more important that locals voice their interest in the fate of this facility.
As a former school with a compartmentalized layout, the HUB is able to provide dedicated spaces, unavailable anywhere else, related to wellness, recreation, and the arts at minimal cost to the people in the area.
The financial resources the HUB currently accesses may not be able to sustain its operations without additional public funding should the property lose its tax exemption status, require renovations, or be affected by zoning bylaw changes.
Commitment to a partnership agreement with surrounding municipalities, regional district areas, First Nations Bands, the School Board, and the HUB Society is necessary to ensure a consistent and reliable source of revenue. There are many inspirational stories of such agreements to repurpose disposed school lands and improvements throughout B.C.
The HUB’s track record over the past five years, since its incorporation, has proven that it is a well-managed, valuable asset with a social and economic benefit to all.
Even if the Board of Education decides to defer a decision to sell or enter into a long term lease, the discussion is mandated to take place. Sooner or later, citizens will have to face the question: how much are we willing to contribute to keep this infrastructure a part of the public domain?
I urge citizens and civic area leaders listed above to get involved and spearhead talks necessary to financially support the HUB and the numerous services it provides. Failing to do so would be a terrible loss to the area.
COVID-19 has hurt British Columbia badly. It won’t be easy to get our economy moving up again quickly. All countries in the world will race to increase their manufacturing and tourism.
How will we compete with them? It is simple: hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games will do it.
During the next few years the Games will employ a lot of people, support a lot of local businesses, and promote tourism worldwide. But after 2026, B.C.’s tourism will increase dramatically because two billion people will watch the Games online. Two billion people.
We will continue to show beautiful summer pictures and videos of Victoria, Vancouver, and Canada for three weeks, and it will result in a big increase in tourism and in more international students over the next 10 to 20 years.
B.C. needs that. If we don’t do it, B.C. and its cities and towns will have huge deficits because all tourist facilities will be in trouble.
B.C. had $22 billion of tourism in the year before COVID-19, and the B.C. government got $2 billion in taxes from the tourism businesses. The Games will bring that back and no doubt increase tourism by at least 10 per cent. Therefore, the B.C. government will get at least $200 million more taxes every year after 2026.
The 2026 Commonwealth Games will be far larger and more profitable than the 1994 Games in Victoria. We are proposing a budget of $1 billion. The money will be provided by the Canadian and B.C. governments as well as from streaming advertising. The governments will get back half their contributions in taxes as the billion dollars are spent in the lead-up to 2026, and then earn more from increased tourism in subsequent years. Municipalities and local citizens will not have to fund any part of the budget.
We will build up to 2,000 new apartments for the 8,000 Games athletes, by providing the required down-payments. The mortgages we arrange will be paid off by ongoing affordable rentals after the Games.
We will build another Commonwealth pool, another major ice arena with a European-sized rink, a major fieldhouse, a new cycling track, a number of hockey, lacrosse, and cricket fields, a proper 2,000 metre rowing facility, and many other facility improvements and additions.
We will have one Games sport in Vancouver, two in Richmond, and at least one in every Victoria municipality. We will provide funds for each municipality as a result, and all citizens will enjoy being closer to the sport competitions than we were able to achieve in 1994.
There will be more than $100 million provided for wages and more than $300 million for payments to local businesses. We will provide $25 million for all the Games festivals, which will include our artists, musicians, Indigenous people, and others.
The Games and their facilities will also be wonderful for our athletes and the following generations of British Columbians. The housing and the new sport facilities built will surely be required as Victoria continues to grow. Doing it as a result of the Games will save Victoria and locals from having to pay for it themselves over the next 20 years. After the Games they will be transferred for free to the municipalities and universities.
In summary, the 2026 Commonwealth Games will help our province, its businesses, and its citizens enormously. We are optimistic that the B.C. government will agree in principle.
Black Press Media
David Black is a director of the 1994 Commonwealth Games hosted in Victoria. He writes on behalf of the bid committee that sought the 2022 Commonwealth Games.