Ladner defends city's secrecy over Olympic Village bailout plan
Vancouver city councillor and mayoral candidate Peter Ladner revealed more Friday about city council's decision to lend up to $100 million to the troubled developer of the Olympic Athletes Village.
Sources, who asked not to be publicly identified, told CBC News on Thursday that the council had made the decision to approve the loan Oct. 14 , but city council refused to confirm that information.
Ladner also refused to talk directly about the loan on Friday, saying the decision was made in a closed-door meeting. However, he did provide a new detail — that the decision was unanimous.
"These are very high-level, difficult, legal-commercial negotiations," Ladner, who is also chair of the city's finance committee, told CBC News. "It's completely irresponsible and ridiculous to think that we could do all this in public and still protect the taxpayer."
The loan was issued after it was revealed the developer, Millennium Development Corp., was facing about $60 million in cost overruns on the construction of the Olympic Athletes Village for the 2010 Winter Games.
The loan came from the city's property endowment fund.
Ladner argued negotiations regarding the loan are no different than private real estate deals.
"Why would the Olympics be different? The scope is bigger but the framework of the deal is the same. The city does this stuff all the time — it has done this for years."
Were councillors misled?
Geoff Meggs, who is not currently on council but is running as a Vision Vancouver candidate in the Nov. 15 municipal election, is not bound by issues of confidentiality. He said he believes some councillors may have been misled.
"The fact that it was unanimous raises the question of whether the councillors were properly informed by Peter Ladner and [current mayor] Sam Sullivan."
Media reports this week have said the city's chief financial officer, Estelle Lo, resigned because of concerns about the Olympic Village financing.
Ladner denied those allegations, saying she will be back to work in two weeks.
"Estelle Lo is on the city payroll now. She's away on holidays as she has done every year for the last 15 years to visit her mother in Hong Kong," he said.
"She will be returning Nov. 16. She will be at work Nov. 17. Whatever happens after that, it's a personnel matter and not something I know about or can discuss."