Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada
OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada,
especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also
hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon,
Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.
to purchase the book
TROJAN HORSE POLITICS
Article published September 2006
There is a lot of rhetoric and hype by local mainstream news media lately
regarding what they describe as the "blight" of billboards in Vancouver.
Let me make this simple. So far, not one mainstream news media company,
at least that we have seen, has mentioned that the billboards could, and
probably will be used in the ramp up to, and during the 2010 Games to
tell the world how Canadian governments treat First Nations.
I'm sure this notion is not lost on Squamish leaders, and I congratulate
their reserve (no pun intended) for not letting this surprise slip out.
Billboards in our city will serve two important roles for the Squamish
Nation. First, and seemingly unbeknownst to local news media, the strategically
placed boards will generate incredible revenue when companies like Pepsi,
Ford, and maybe even the TD bank scramble to buy space on the only property
in town available for competitors of Coke, GM, and RBC, who just happen
to be official Olympic sponsors.
If you read my book you know that Olympic organizations take over all
the billboards in an Olympic region in an effort to keep competing companies
and protestors from spreading their message to the general populace. Yes,
you read it right. Olympic organizations monopolize all the billboard
space. Jim Pattison is surely in Olympic heaven, but now he has a bit
of competition. The Squamish Nation could make a fortune serving only
Olympic competitors like Pepsi. Ironically, their recent entry in the
Vancouver billboard market might even drive up the rental price for Pattison
billboards. Competition is good for everyone, but not something monopoly-driven
Olympic organizations like to deal with.
More importantly, the Squamish Nation, if they deem it necessary, will
most assuredly use the billboards to tell the world how Olympic organizations
historically exploit Aboriginal people as window dressing to sell the
Olympic dream, and that they do not incorporate them into the Games in
a meaningful way. Unaccredited international media will have a field day,
as they did in Sydney with the infamous "sorry" campaign.
want to know how I know, click here . . .
What About You?
Intrawest is still waiting for final approval to sell Canadian mountains
to the Americans (09/06), however, approval better come fast before New
York buyer, Fortress Investment Group, gets wise and backs out.
In case NY FIG hasn't heard, the real estate "bubble burst" in Whistler.
Properties are now selling at tens of thousands below the prices they
were purchased for over the last couple of years. It won't be long before
the same bubble floats into Vancouver with a hollow "POP."
Interestingly though, lending institutions, like official Olympic sponsor
the RBC, are still leveraging the upward trend. Here's how; According
to Catherine Pope of Global News TV, about a year and a
half ago homeowner Sabina Mawson bought a home in Whistler
for $649,000. Just recently she was forced to sell well under asking
price for $570,000. If she mortgaged the house through a bank (like
RBC), Sabina still owes the bank the difference of almost $80,000 - good
for the bank, bad for her. Don't forget too about all the realtor fees,
transfer costs, and taxes she had to cover, plus the fact her home did
not appreciate and improve her personal net worth. She would have been
better off investing in bonds instead of Olympic frenzy. The seller's
market peaked and prices are on the way down, and it is happening prematurely.
I cautioned people more than two years ago not to fall into this trap,
but some, in their excitement, fueled by news media hype, jumped into
the frenzy fed by local news companies who also saw an opportunity to
sell millions of dollars of full colour double-spread advertising to real
estate marketers like Bob Rennie. CMHC media darling Cameron Muir also
extolled the virtues of a market that he claimed was healthy. Apparently
even experts are susceptible to the hype and have a marked lack of understanding
of how Olympic frenzy affects buyers. If he knew I'm sure he would have
warned us, at least we hope so, but he didn't. Instead his bubbly effervescent
reports encouraged everyone to get in line and buy, which is exactly opposite
of what I've been advising everyone to do. Keep in mind though that Muir
works for the CMHC, which just happens to be an Olympic partner. According
to real estate experts, there was nothing to worry about. They still preach,
"Get in, and get in big because the good times, they are a comin'." Unfortunately,
few real estate experts or news media will admit even now that our obscenely
spiked Vancouver market was a result of Olympic frenzy. If you purchased
in the last few years, I feel for you, but don't lose hope because there
still are actions you can take to hedge against your losses. Unlike VANOC,
and their $150 million loss, it's not too late. If you've been renting,
keep renting for a while longer because a bigger dip is eminent. You'll
know when to buy.
Which brings us back to Intrawest. All those who are surprised that Intrawest
decided to sell our mountains in the middle of Olympic excitement please
raise your hands. Just as I thought. Yeah, me too. I have to admit, this
is one Olympic spectacle I did not see coming, so don't feel bad. According
to Intrawest, it's not a time to buy. It's a time to sell - and bail.
Media and real estate "experts" have it backwards.
In light of the bubble bursting in Whistler, it's hard not to agree that
it was a great time for Intrawest to move the mountains when the price
was hopped up on Olympic steroids. Sharp guys those mountain moguls, but
don't be surprised if they bid to buy it back when the buzz subsides.
Intrawest literally bailed a heartbeat before the bubble popped. If you
also bought speculatively in Whistler you might want to follow suit before
prices slip even further, which they surely will, especially after the
auditor-general's $2.5 billion boondoggle report makes its way through
boardrooms. Gone are the days of the Vancouver Sun irresponsibly splaying
giant headlines on their front pages hyping "real estate millionaires
The party is over.
In retrospect, its easy now to see how developers, realtors, banks, and
local news media worked to leverage the hype, and how they all came out
of it with a big fat bank roll, while homeowners like Sabina lick their
The reality is that the big players all knew this was going to happen.
It's a formula, and they have the recipe.
How do I know they knew? Well, if you've been reading OlyBLOG.com for
the last couple of years, and you've read my book, you know why.
Even though they didn't tell you, local news media knew what would happen.
How did media know? I told them. Time and again.
How did "I" know it was going to happen? It happened exactly like this
in almost all Olympic regions, including, and especially, Salt Lake City.
Pray that what happened in SLC will not happen here, because if it does,
Whistler's bubble is just the first whiff of smoke in a dry forest.
Just Say NO - To the IOC
VANOC wants to lease a cruise ship and dock it in Squamish
to house international media during the Games. The IOC says no.
VANOC should do what Sydney did in 2000 and tell the IOC to stick it.
It's time for laid back Vancouver/Whistler to get a backbone. We are way
This is our community, and if VANOC (stupidly mind you) wants to pack
media like sardines into a cruise ship, it is nobody's business but our
Before you criticize me for being reckless, keep in mind that I am rabidly
pro-Olympic and that I have almost two decades of high-level experience
managing worldwide events and their respective promoters. The IOC is nothing
but a glorified promoter, and no better than bushy-haired Don King of
Mike Tyson infamy. Never forget that the IOC was recently caught red-handed
bribing and cheating in Salt Lake City. Never forget too that Greece is
now $12 billion in debt, Salt Lake City $1.2 billion, and Turin is still
counting. None of these cities saw tourism improve after the Games, in
fact Greece's tourism plunged dramatically. As reported by the New Zealand
Herald, "George Tsakiris, who owns three hotels in Athens, states
that he and other hoteliers spent over $1.5 billion to renovate and supply
rooms with new furniture, televisions, and internet connections hoping
that the 2004 Games would increase tourism. The Greek Government spent
$10 billion on a new airport, subway and rail system, and venues to prepare
for the Games. A survey by consulting firm JBR Hellas found hotel occupancy
plunged seven percent in the fourth quarter to fifty percent, the lowest
among eleven of Europe's biggest cities. The Association of Greek Tourist
Enterprises reported that the number of visi-tors to Greece fell three
percent in 2004, a blow to a nation that relies on tourist's spending
for about six percent of its gross domestic product."
The Olympics is not a mystical, religious or spiritual entity, and neither
is the IOC. VANOC should quit treating them as such and get off their
knees and stand up for our community. So should our local media.
Packing international media into a cruise ship is the exact wrong thing
to do, and a perfect example of small-town thinking by John Furlong, but
I defend VANOC's right, and our right, to do anything in our community
that we see fit. Hopefully VANOC will come up with a better solution,
but if they don't, then tell the IOC to take it or leave it, the same
way Sydney did regarding UPS VS TNT. Sydney won, the IOC lost.
don't know what this means, read my book.
It's not nice, but it's the truth . . .
Have a comment?
Interested in booking
a speaking engagement?
Want to learn more about the challenges
that small and midsize businesses face? Click Leverage
If you have to pay for it?
Shouldn't you benefit too?
Interested in booking a speaking engagement?