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More lipstick, more pig

The likely tab for the Commonwealth Games, if won by Halifax, has been upped from $785-million to $900-million, with the federal government pledging as much as $400-million according to an announcement Thursday. The money is in the form of matching public funds, so the province and municipality will have to figure out a way to split $400-million, the remainder of the estimated public contribution. Where exactly this money is going to come from is anybody’s guess, but apparently it isn’t going to create a legacy, not debt – because politicians tell us so. The real budget isn’t due until the spring, but I’ll eat my hat if the real numbers don’t top $1-billion.

I’m not saying there will not be benefits to the city if they manage to win the bid, don’t get me wrong. As bestiality-proponent (he slept with a dog, didn’t he?) Peter Mackay says:

the Games would create infrastructure that would benefit Halifax long after the closing ceremonies. For example, Halifax would need to build many of the sports venues, including a stadium, aquatic centre and badminton facility.

Yes, Peter, it would be nice to play badminton, and we can certainly use more public facilities, but let’s get some cops on the street first so that we can walk the city at night. Maybe if walking was safe, we’d all get a little more exercise without plunging so much money in infrastructure that might or might not last and might or might not get used. Michael Hooper, the head of the Commonwealth Games Federation, re-iterates the sports development makes for better cities meme:

There’s regeneration of certain areas — isn-t that a good thing? Look at what it does longterm.

Again, yes, the city could use some sprucing up, and longterm development should definitely be on the minds of the Council, but I’d be willing to bet that if we gave some clever community organizations time to think, they’d come up with better ways to spend a billion dollars. Hell, I’d bet that they would stretch the $200-million or so that is going to be HRM’s contribution farther than the billion-dollar Games orgy that is about to occur.

If hosting the Commonwealth Games is really all about improving the city, let’s remove the middle-man (the Games) and just put money into improving the city. There are a myriad ways in which this could be done. You want Halifax to be a better city? Then let’s make it a better city for those living here now, instead of impoverishing them and future generations in the hope that tourists flock in 2014 to watch a competition that only the most ardent TSN-fetishists paid attention to last year in Melbourne. Hands up all of you that went down-under to catch some of the hot badminton action.

Yeah, thought so.

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2 thoughts on “More lipstick, more pig

  1. What an incredible fiasco this is turning out to be. It seems as though when the idea was introduced, the tune was, “this is a great idea!” What we didn’t expect (well, other than Kevvy – he’s a suspicious sort, and for good reason) was the “But…” It seems we’re getting ridiculous terms, conditions, requirements, etc. every single day. I think pretty soon everyone in HRM, if not the province, will feel like they’ve just given their credit card number over the phone for great prizes we’ve been promised. No amount of spin from Scotty Logan will ease that sinking feeling.

    As to your point about community groups, Kevvy, last night was the Dartmouth Community Health Board Community Development Fund cheque presentation to community groups who are out there trying to make the community better. Thanks to the generosity of the Dept. of Health Promotion, we had about $29,000 to give to groups ranging from the United Way to Alica Housing to anti-drug groups in high schools to resources for children of abused women, and my favorite, a $3,000 batting machine so the Dartmouth little league kids will be able to practice like their Halifax counterparts. Believe me that if this bid is unsuccessful, even after $14 million is flushed down the can, ther’ll still be a lot of people, primarily volunteers, working to make the community healthier in a whole lot of different ways besides badminton. People with tunnel vision, like those who are clamoring for these Games, have only the almighty dollar in mind.
    I want to send out special thanks to Trevor Zinck and Marilyn More, who were the only representatives who showed up to last night’s festivities out of all the provincial and municipal politicians we invited.
    Putting away the soapbox now, thanks for a great piece, Kevvy.

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  2. Well, if the Commonwealth Games go through, I can only dream of what the burden to the property-tax-payer will be. (Those who don’t pay property taxes won’t nearly suffer as much…)

    I figure my property taxes will probably double, especially since I live in Dartmouth in “prime” Games territory. This might just give me a bit more justification to move out of metro and pay my taxes to a municipality that can perhaps use my tax dollars just a bit more wisely.

    There is an excellent article in today’s Daily Snooze re: the secrecy surrounding the games:

    http://www.hfxnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=9924&sc=5

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