Cut Olympic Village social housing: report
The City of Vancouver is considering a city staff report that recommends slashing the number of social housing units in the Olympic Village in order to raise more cash from the troubled project.
The $1 billion dollar luxury condominium complex on the south shore of False Creek was supposed to include 252 social housing units.
But the staff report says the number should be cut in half because of the huge cost overruns for the social housing component of the development.
The report suggests that instead of selling them off, the other 126 units should be rented out at market rates, with preference being given to essential service workers, such as police and fire crews who work in the city, and want to continue living close to downtown.
The report did not specify how such an exclusive rental concept would be worked out.
The original budget for the social housing units was $64 million dollars, but the construction ended up costing $110 million.
The report says selling the units doesn't make sense, because the city would have to spend millions to upgrade them to market standards, and the development already contains hundreds of units that are being sold to the public.
"It's unfortunate that we couldn't have more social housing on the site. The financial realities are forcing us to scale back somewhat," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Roberston told reporters Tuesday.
"It's expensive because between 2006 and 2008, this project went massively overbudget."
The city took over the entire project after its New York-based financiers pulled out during the financial crisis of 2008.
City staff are cautiously optimistic they will break even on the complete project once the units are sold and rented, and taxpayers won't be on the hook for any losses.