These were the words of Halifax councillor Debbie Hum after finding out that the decision to pull the plug on the Commonwealth Games bid was made without council’s consent and that the public announcement was being made while they were in camera discussing the issue. I share the sentiment, but perhaps for a different reason, though hers is definitely valid.
In the end, council voted 12 to 2 to kill the bid, a decision which indeed is bad for the city’s image, but not nearly as costly in the long run as actually hosting the Games would have been. It certainly was not handled well by either Peter Kelly or Rodney MacDonald, but the fact of the matter is that we are getting accustomed to the fact that Kelly is not so much a leader as a caretaker and MacDonald couldn’t successfully organize a one-man lineup to a two-hole outhouse. That the bid committee was allowed to go this far was an expensive waste of time and ultimately responsible for any international embarassment the city might suffer. Cancelling the bid now was the responsible thing to do, if a bit late.
Sue Uteck, another councillor, was also furious, calling the council a “pack of lemmings”, apparently for not rolling over and offering endless streams of milky goodness from the public teat to her real constituency, big business. Such is life.
On the flip side, it is good to see that there are those that are taking this as a beginning rather than an end. Ken Bagnell, of the Canadian Sports Centre Atlantic, is urging the government to still consider expanding the facilities to train high-level athletes in the region. Unfortunately, Fred MacGillivray, former president of the Games bid committee (man, I like writing that!) is still simpering that the only way to get money to build these facilities is to tag it onto the back-end of an event train. I guess when you also run the Trade and Convention Centre, you can see the universe as a series of events.
As I’ve said before here and elsewhere (wo betide those that sit near me at coffee break!) if HRM was willing to pony up great gobs of cash for this event, hit them now with a sensible wishlist and you’ll likely get a sympathetic ear. We have everything we need to expand on – existing facilities (the lakes), active clubs with a history of producing champions, a university with a kinesiology program (Dalhousie), and perhaps a city council that might be interested in making this city the place to row/kayak/paddle in the country. Something like this could be done for somewhat less than $1.7 billion I’m guessing, so why not at least try?
But for heaven’s sake, don’t try to tie your facility wishlist to some event – build it, use it, and if they come, they come.
If not, so be it, we’ll use it. And in the end, that is way more important, because we bought it.