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Could the Commonwealth Games be the answer to the housing crisis?

The Gold Coast already has what it takes to rescue the 2026 Commonwealth Games, and stepping in to save the event could help us solve some pressing issues of our own.

Mayor Tom Tate’s bid to bring the Commonwealth Games back to the Gold Coast could help us tackle the current housing crisis, and make sure we’re ready for the 2032 Olympics.

The success of the 2018 Commonwealth Games means we already have much of the sporting infrastructure and facilities in place – including those already being enjoyed by Gold Coast residents at Carrara and Coomera, and the Southport Aquatic Centre.

We’ve also learned some valuable lessons about what we could have done better - ensuring Gold Coast locals feel welcome at the event, delivering a much-needed boost to Coast businesses.

Dr Dan O'Hare nearly down on a vacant block of land in Robina

Hosting the Commonwealth Games again in 2026 would deliver an even greater return on the investments we made the first time around, and any upgrades would provide the perfect opportunity to get some key elements in place or underway well before the 2032 Olympics. Upgrading the Aquatic Centre could even save the State Government money by removing the ‘need’ for the expensive temporary Olympic pool at Roma Street in Brisbane.

Bringing forward some of the expected spend planned for Olympic infrastructure in time for a 2026 Commonwealth Games event would be a smart investment in the future of the Gold Coast, including possibly providing leverage for ‘sports business’ and healthy living to become a significant part of the city’s economy, lifestyle and culture..

But given our very obvious housing crisis, the big question is  where will we put all these athletes and visitors?

The solution is there - it just needs political will and some forward thinking.

Robina is designated as one of three Olympic Villages for 2032, along with Brisbane and Maroochydore, so we’re going to need to build one at some point anyway.

Most of the vacant land at Robina Town Centre (between the shopping centre and the railway station) is owned by the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), which manages significant investments on behalf of the Queensland Government and the superannuation of most state government employees.  

The QIC has been for years quietly preparing development plans for this missing chunk of what is supposed to be the Gold Coast’s second largest town centre.  

It’s already being considered in terms of what might be needed for the 2032 Olympics, so there’s opportunity for the QIC to engage its urban development capabilities and networks to deliver a significant first stage of the development in time for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

QIC won’t be developing the Robina land ‘from scratch’; it’s already got a plan that it’s been working on and adjusting for over a decade, including how to build a Games Village as the initial stage of development. 
 
The area has long been touted as an intensive business and community centre with more high-density housing to take advantage of existing public transport and major services, and with the Coast’s housing crisis, we might as well start building it now.

To be ready for both 2026 and 2032, staging and some use of temporary housing will be critical, so the site can be occupied for both Games events and for locals while the construction of long-term housing is ongoing.

We all know there’s more to housing than houses, so this plan will depend on sophisticated staging and the creation of liveable, walkable streets that can be redeveloped into the future.

I think our city’s urban planning and development experts are clever enough to make that happen. Like Mayor Tom Tate, businesswoman Gina Rinehart and the host of sporting associations backing the Gold Coast’s bid, I believe if we do this right, it could set the city up for serious future success. 
 
Dr Daniel O’Hare is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Bond University. 

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