To the editor,
Contrary to what some supporters of the Halifax 2014 Commonwealth Games bid have emotionally cried, Halifax's withdrawal has not made it an international embarrassment. That would imply that Halifax is even on the radar of the world's stage in the first place. As I told some of my former Melbourne Commonwealth Games co-workers of the Halifax saga, their response was, "Where's Halifax?"
Smart city, smart growth. That was the larger-than-life tagline for Halifax back in 2002. Unfortunately, the decision to scrap the bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games has shown its actual commitment to growth.
Instead, we're stuck with the living in the 1960s, where we saddled ourselves with a generation-long commitment to SYSCO, which added $1 billion to the province's debt, and continual payments to an entity that brings no future and the antithesis of growth.
The value of an event like the Commonwealth Games isn't the two weeks of fireworks and seeing obscure sports and athletes. Seriously, I doubt anyone save for Sally O'Malley's parents would have a vested interest in her performance in the Trinidad netball match. No, the real value is in the infrastructure, which we are sorely lacking, and not just in terms of athletic facilities.
I watched in Melbourne as pedestrian bridges and public transportation was improved. In Doha, at the recent Asian Games, I saw the construction of a $550 million athletes' village, to be turned into a future hospital wing and beds.
It's not realistic for Nova Scotia to spend $2.8 billion, like Doha's deep pockets did, for its infrastructure of more empty stadiums than you can shake a stick at—they had much loftier goals, such as attempting to bolster their long-shot odds at hosting the 2016 Olympics.
But it would have been realistic of Halifax to attempt to host a smaller-scale version, or at least try, in order to improve the city's facilities. As team captain of the "have-not" provinces, Nova Scotia has a long way to go in reversing its culture of defeatism and the dangerous effects of that culture. As the latest census results have indicated, Nova Scotia and Halifax are lagging behind in population growth in Canada. Young workers are leaving for new places and bigger pay cheques, and who would blame them for being frustrated for even trying to think outside of the box. It's a shame.
While Panic at the Disco may write sins, Nova Scotia has written a tragedy. In the end, we're back to square one. We still don't have a ferry system or a commuter train. We still lack hospital beds. We still are without sport facilities. And now we're missing real growth.
By pulling the plug on the games, young Nova Scotians may have been saved long-term debt. Then again, you only pay the debt if you live in the province, and, according to the numbers, it's obvious that we've already headed for greener pastures.
By Vince Chew