Vancouver agrees to lend up to $100M for 2010 athletes village

Here is a article written in the Vancouver Sun today concerning the new Olympic Village in Vancouver and the budget overruns.

Vancouver lends $100M for 2010 athletes village

Completion of 2010 Olympic Games athletes village not in danger

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008


VANCOUVER - The construction timetable for the Olympic athletes village on Vancouver's Southeast False Creek is not an issue and the site will be finished and open in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, according to Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Peter Ladner.

But questions over whether the multi-million dollar construction project is in serious financial shape are being raised amid the spectre that one the city's chief financial officer has resigned.

On Thursday city hall officials would not confirm that Estelle Lo, Vancouver's Director of Finance, had resigned in the wake of growing concerns about the construction project.

Staff said Lo had taken a vacation and was scheduled to be back at work on Nov. 17.

However, the city is refusing to confirm that Lo has now left her job.

The question of Lo's employment was raised in a Globe and Mail story Thurssday that also said city council in an in-camera meeting Oct. 14 had agreed to lend up to $100 million to cover construction costs by Millennium Development Corp.

On Wednesday, Ladner, currently an elected councillor, told The Sun's editorial board that the project was not in danger of being completed and that the city was in a position of power because it owns the land.

He did not disclose that the city was considering loaning Millennium the $100 million.

But in the wake of the Globe story today, he confirmed to CKNW radio that the money was being advanced to ensure construction would be finished on time for the Games.

The Globe's story also indicated the deal also included the possibility of accessing $60 million in a line of credit the city has with the Bank of Montreal.

None of the statements made in the Globe story could be independently confirmed because the matters were dealt with at a confidential in-camera meeting.

However, one source told The Vancouver Sun that an investigation has started into how the information was leaked.

City staff were so concerned about the potential for sensitive information around the village's financial problems that they issued numbered reports that were then supposed to be collected up after the meeting.

The Globe story included what appeared to be a direct quote from the document outlining how the city would loan money to finish the development.

The city isn't commenting on Lo's status.

The Globe said Lo had resigned after repeatedly warning that the city might be taking on too much financial risk with the village. The project's considerable financial problems have been known for some time, and in early October councillors were given another in-camera briefing where they were told the project is about $60 million, or six per cent, over budget because of cost pressures.

Michael Flanigan, the city's director of real estate services, told The Vancouver Sun at the time the amount is being funded by the developer, Millennium Development Ltd., and the city is not concerned about the project's viability.

He also said the city's $190 million financial guarantee to Millennium underwriter, Fortress Investment Group was not in danger of being exercised and that work on the village was proceeding.






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