Games’ financial winners tabulated

The Canada Winter Games generated $94.8 million for the local economy. That’s the final figure given by local economist Luigi Zanasi who…

The Canada Winter Games generated $94.8 million for the local economy.

That’s the final figure given by local economist Luigi Zanasi who crunched the numbers and drafted a $40,000 economic-impact assessment for the Games.

The numbers cover all the money generated for the economy between 2003 and 2007.

Broken down, the report’s total includes $69.1 million spent on big construction projects, the biggest being the athletes’ village, now a residence and seniors’ home, and the second phase of the Canada Games Centre.

Also included in Zanasi’s final figure is the $12.6 million spent on Yukon goods and services, the $4.4 million in salaries and benefits for Games staff, and the $8.7 million dropped by the 7,600 visitors who came here.

With all that money some sectors of the Yukon economy made out quite well, said Zanasi’s report.

People involved in travel accommodations sectors made $3.3 million because of the Games.

The transportation and engineering sectors made $1 million.

The retail sector saw $2.5 million.

Publishers, including newspapers, made $291,000, while those involved in professional services earned $766,000.

Insurance carriers took home $113,000 because of the Games, machine shops $155,000, printers, $112,000, and those involved in the performing arts and spectators sports sectors earned $635,000 because of the event.

The list is long and some of that money was spread around by the visitors, according to Zanasi’s report.

Some of the 7,600 estimated visitors — the majority of which were athletes, coaches, media and VIPs from Ontario, BC, Saskatchewan and Alberta — eventually travelled further afield in the territory and Alaska.

“About 860 visitors also went to other Yukon communities; the places mentioned include Carcross, the Takhini Hot Springs, Haines Junction, Skagway, Dawson City and Watson Lake.”

And, of the visitors, 1,888 said they were planning to return within the next two years, states the 42-page report.

That’s good news because that’s all money that is above and beyond what businesses would normally have made, said Robert Fendrick, who served as vice-president of administration and finance for the host society.

But that’s not the best news, said Fendrick, whose day job is serving as the director of administrative services for the city.

The best news, from his perspective, is reserved for city taxpayers as the Games won’t cost the municipal government, which was on the hook for any cost overruns, any more money, he said.

“Financially speaking, we broke even. That was the most important thing from the city’s perspective.”

But, not all the news is good.

With all the benefits, there is a possibility of drawbacks, states the report.

The infrastructure windfall the Games brought to Whitehorse — the athletes’ village, Canada Games Centre, the Mt. Sima chalet and ski hill improvements — could become an anchor on the economy if people don’t use it.

“From an economic perspective, it can be argued the increased amount of infrastructure results in future income streams that increase the overall size of the economy.

But, lifecycle costs for the infrastructure must also be considered.

“If it has been overbuilt or is underused, excessive operating costs may crowd out other public spending and outweigh future benefits.”

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