Olympic housing report triggers alarm
Some Vancouver city councillors are calling for an emergency meeting with senior levels of government andthe Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee following a report that casts doubt on some of the social housing commitments made in the Olympic bid.
That report questions whether there is enough money to deliver on all of the housingpromises that were made, including 3,200units of social housing to be built in time for the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.
The report, which was prepared by representatives of all levels of government and Olympic officials,has been sent to city council, where it is setting off alarm bells.
Opposition Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal said it's impossible the money can't be found.
"We've been committing to overrides on the cost of building facilities, we're covering extra costs for the convention centre," she said.
"There's all sorts of money going to infrastructure right now but no one seems to be able to come up with the money to house the people who need it most."
Deal said housing advocates are now in full-blown panic mode following the release of the report
"We need to get some funding right now to start building buildings. That's the problem here; we've run into the timeline of whether or not we get a shovel into the ground tomorrow and build housing in time."
Wendy Pederson of the Carnegie Action Project on the Downtown Eastside said the city has an endowment fund andthe senior levels of government have huge surpluses.
She said government and Olympic organizers have an obligation to deliver.
"Where is the federal government and VANOC in this? They signed the document promising people wouldn't be displaced."
Olympic organizers have a different take on the report and on the promises made during the bid.
They say they didn't agree to any specific numbers of housing units, but note that progress is being made, citingthe more than 900 new single resident occupancy (SRO) housing units that have been purchased in Vancouver by the B.C. government.