UBC reviews Pacific Games proposal

by Stephen Forgacs
Staff writer

UBC is seeking input from the campus and its neighbors prior to making a decision on whether or not it should join the Lower Mainland community in offering a venue for the Pacific Games, which would bring athletes from 43 countries to Vancouver June 16-29, 2001.

"We think there are many advantages to UBC's participation in these games. We also know there are concerns," said Maria Klawe, UBC vice-president, Student and Academic Services, at a UBC public forum held March 30. "We want to provide as many opportunities as possible for community input before we make any recommendations to the Board of Governors on the university's participation."

At the forum, Pacific Games General Manager John Stothart and Klawe outlined the benefits -- including $7-million upgrades of Empire Pool and improvements to Thunderbird Stadium -- and challenges of the proposal. They heard concerns from about 25 members of the campus community regarding holding the games during the same summer as the Francophone games, corporate linkages and human rights, and how the games would promote environmental issues.

A community forum aimed at drawing feedback from residents in the University Endowment Lands, Hampton Place, West Point Grey and Dunbar will be scheduled for mid- to late-April, while consultation with UBC student, staff, and faculty groups is ongoing.

The university administration has committed to public consultation prior to making a decision on major international events to ensure those with concerns have an opportunity to voice them and become involved in the decision-making process.

The games will bring 3,000 to 4,000 athletes to Vancouver to compete in athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, judo, rowing, rugby, skating, soccer, softball/baseball, table tennis, triathlon, and volleyball. Other possible venues include BC Place, GM Place, SFU, Swangard and Nat Bailey stadiums.

The program comprises three components including the games, the Pacific Economic Forum and Sport Exposition, and the Pacific Cultural Festival which will highlight the First Nations as the host culture.

The number of foreign visitors to the games is projected at 15,000 including 10,000 from overseas and 5,000 from the U.S. Spectators at the games could reach a total of 100,000, organizers estimate.

Games organizers have requested exclusive use of the War Memorial Gym, Empire Pool, Thunderbird Stadium and other fields, the Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre, as well as a number of classrooms, meeting rooms, certain parking lots, the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre and university residences.

The first Pacific Games were held in Cali, Colombia, in 1995. The second will take place in Santiago, Chile, in 1999.