Vancouver council stands by decision to bail out Olympic Village
Vision Vancouver's has lost its bid to get city council to reconsider a decision it made last month to lend $100 million to the troubled developer of the 2010 Olympic Athletes Village.
The party moved a motion to turn Friday night's zoning meeting into a council meeting to revisit the controversial bailout, but the motion was quashed.
Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson had claimed the four Vision Vancouver councillors who attended the Oct. 14 financial committee meeting were pressured into approving the loan without knowing all the details.
However, Coun. Peter Ladner, chairman of the financial committee, said reconsidering the loan, which he said had been approved unanimously at the closed meeting, would harm the continuing negotiations on the project.
Robertson wanted an emergency review of the loan, which is being taken out from the city's property endowment fund estimated at $2.7 billion.
"There has been leaks [of information] and now the information has basically fuelled the fire of speculation and concern among taxpayers as to how much risk we have in the City of Vancouver and whether this project is in more trouble than we want it to be," Robertson said Friday.
Ladner, who's running for mayor under the Non-Partisan Association banner, accused Vision Vancouver of "political posturing."
"I'm extremely disappointed that this has been turned into a political football that's jeopardizing the city's negotiating position and, in fact, weakening the situation and making it tougher for us to get a good deal for the taxpayers," he said Friday afternoon.
At a news conference before the zoning meeting on Friday evening, Ladner said he would not release any details of the $100-million loan when negotiations have not finished and would do whatever necessary to ensure the completion of the Olympic Village.
"Now is not the time, as it is about to happen in council, to call for a reconsideration in the middle of negotiations of a highly sensitive, multi-million-dollar project with some of the toughest negotiators in the world," he said.
"If necessary, I am prepared to lose this election to save this project and protect the city's taxpayers."
The civic election is on Nov. 15.
Negotiations have to remain private in order to get the best deal for the city, Ladner said.
Last month, the media reported that Millennium Development Corp., the developer for the Olympic Village project, was facing an estimated $60-million cost overrun.
The Southeast False Creek development site comprises 32 hectares of land, seven of which will be temporarily transformed into the Olympic Village during the Games. The village, which will contain 15 to 20 permanent buildings and other temporary structures to accommodate athletes, will be a residential community but will also include commercial and retail space.
Earlier this year, Vancouver city council issued a $190-million loan guarantee to help prop up the project.