|Canadian Heritage minister Sheila Copps said Friday that the federal and British Columbia governments are working on a national lottery to help fund the 2010 Winter Olympic Games – if the Vancouver/Whistler bid wins.|
``The cost of hosting the Olympics is challenging, and we have some specific commitments to improve facilities,” Copps said. Other government officials in charge of the 2010 bid were not available for comment, and 'Michele Penz, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp., said the lottery was news to her.
But, Penn said,, a lottery to support the bid would be no surprise considering the support the federal government has already shown the bid committee, citing a $9.1-million government investment made last December.
``We are aware that both Sheila Copps and the prime minister are big supporters of the bid,'' Penz said.
Copps admitted the lottery is still at a putative stage: ``The design is being worked on with the government of British Columbia,'' said Copps, ``The premier is very supportive as is the minister for sport.” The lottery is still in the design stage and could take many different forms,'' she added.
The selection of who will host the 2010 Winter Olympics takes place in Prague, Czech Republic in July, 2003. The Heritage Department is finalizing the Vancouver/Whistler bid book to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the end of May.
In 1979, when then Canadian prime minister Joe Clark gave the lotteries to the provinces to operate, it was conditional on the revenues generated by those lotteries being allocated to sports and culture, said Copps. However, the plan did not last long.
``In the original agreement (the provinces) were required to put (the money into sports and culture), and then in 1986 they amended the agreement to absolve them of that responsibility,'' Copps said.