When it came to Games, Yukon could have done worse, says Fraser

The territory spent $43 million more than it planned on the 2007 Canada Winter Games, but met most the of challenges posed by the massive endeavour,…

The territory spent $43 million more than it planned on the 2007 Canada Winter Games, but met most the of challenges posed by the massive endeavour, says Canada’s auditor general.

But the government must improve its mega-project planning to prepare for unexpected disaster and challenges, said Sheila Fraser.

And the government did not thoroughly review the Canada Winter Games bid before supporting it.

The auditor general released her 28-page audit of the winter games in Whitehorse on Thursday.

An event the size of the Games — with several partners and logistic and funding issues — is a test of good project management, said Fraser.

The territory spent $64 million on the Games, the largest contribution.

“The territorial government processed the challenges well and managed most risks,” Fraser said during a media briefing at the legislature.

But it took a smidge of serendipity to come out OK after the government learned the Games’ host society could not provide accommodations for athletes, she added.

The host society — tasked with raising money and assisting the city in building infrastructure — handed responsibility for building the athletes’ village to the territory after its plans were foiled by mediocre bids, high costs and tight deadlines.

When the government learned about the problem, it was too late to find low-cost options, said Fraser.

“If the government had known earlier, it could have saved money,” she said.

The 48 apartments, with funding from Ottawa and the municipality, cost $34 million.

In March, the territory handed its half of the athletes’ village to seniors, who share exclusive rights in the two-building complex with Yukon College students.

In a previous audit, Fraser recommended the government improve risk management, and study efficient and effective use of resources.

That message was repeated Thursday.

Once problems are identified, the government should detail its options should disaster happen, she said.

“Major expenditures should all have risk-management provisions,” said Fraser.

The Games bid was studied enough before the government pledged its support and planned a budget, she added.

The government’s original Games cost estimate was $21 million.

It spent $64 million.

More monitoring and information sharing should be included in future mega-projects, said Fraser.

In responses included in the audit, government officials agreed with Fraser’s recommendations.

Fraser also recommended the government should carry out evaluations for all major projects, like the Games.

Risk planning will be improved, said YTG officials.

A post-project review of the athletes’ village is still needed to determine if it followed appropriate procedures and used funds efficiently and effectively, said Fraser.

The games generated $94.8 million for the local economy, according to a recent economic-impact assessment.