Province spends $14 million on Olympic ventures
Sonia Sunger, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Friday, February 12, 2010 5:16PM MST
The Government of Alberta is making sure the province is well represented in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games spending $14 million to showcase Alberta to visitors and transport MLAs.
The province is spending the money on Alberta Olympic venues including an Alberta train, Alberta station and Alberta house. Those initiatives combined with the cost of upgrading Olympic training spaces and construct stages for the torch relay made of the majority of the $14 million tab. The remaining $71,000 is being spent on transportation costs to fly Alberta MLAs to Vancouver for the games.
"It's a return on investment; how much do you not spend to not market yourself around the world?" said Jerry Bellika, a spokesman from the province's transportation department. "It's a perfect window and opportunity with literally millions of people watching on television every night."
The province says the train, which is part of Alberta's $6.6-million marketing plan, will promote the province as a tourism hotspot to international businesses, visitors and special guests during the course of the 2010 Winter Games.
The $14 million price tag for the ventures has the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation scratching its head – with the province announcing a record debt of $4.7 billion on Tuesday.
"The Alberta advantage wasn't built on billboards and trains with logos on it," said Scott Hennig, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
"I hope the government proves me wrong and comes back and details exactly how taxpayers are getting their money back or more this investment," said Hennig.
Details on the amount of taxpayers dollars being spent also has Liberal critics weighing in.
"We can be gracious hosts and extend hospitality without spending millions and millions of dollars," said Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald.
The province has reserved at least two trains to run between Vancouver and Whistler during the 2010 Winter Games. The Rocky Mountaineer trains are the only public transit alternative besides bus services.
The government has booked the Rocky Mountaineer starting Feb 12th until the 28th. On the government's website, it boasts that riders will take in full concierge services and dining options during the trip.