B.C. legislature holding special sitting Saturday on Olympic Village funding
Last Updated: Thursday, January 15, 2009 | 5:23 PM PT
The B.C. legislature will reconvene for a special sitting at noon Saturday to deal with the issue of financing the completion of the Olympic Village for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson asked the provincial government to amend the city's charter, giving it authority to borrow the $458 million required to finish the project.
Premier Gordon Campbell said Wednesday the legislature would be recalled "as soon as possible" and he hoped the necessary legislation would get speedy passage. House Speaker Bill Barisoff issued a brief statement Thursday afternoon that says reconvening the legislature to deal with the issue meets the requirement that a special sitting be in the public interest.
Opposition New Democrats said they are eager to debate the issue, but MLA Adrian Dix said he is not pleased the sitting starts on a weekend, when there is no question period.
"You can tell what the government's thinking is. They want to avoid answering questions about their mismanagement of the Olympic Games," said Dix, the Opposition deputy house leader.
Fortress Investment Group, which was to lend the $750 million budgeted for the project, stopped advancing cash to builder Millennium Development Corp. in September. The city has been covering construction costs with a $100-million bailout loan approved during an in-camera council meeting on Oct. 14.
Cost overruns have pushed the project cost to $875 million. The Southeast False Creek development site, where the village is being built, is on city-owned land worth $200 million, putting the value of the whole development project at more than $1 billion.
The city has been negotiating with Fortress to reopen the loan, but it will have to find the money to complete the village by this fall if negotiations fall through.
Olympic organizers are expected this fall to take possession of the village's 1,100 units of housing required for the Olympics.
Money spent to build the village is to be recouped through the sale of some condominium units after the Games.
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