An unofficial Olympic watchdog group has published a report criticizing Vanoc and the Olympic planning process for what it described as a “dramatic reduction in transparency”.
Drafted by the Impact on Community Coalition, the report reviews decisions made by Vanoc, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia, and Canada in regards to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
A focus of the report is actions which the ICC claims “prevent public access though Freedom of Information requests”.
The report notes that the B.C. 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat—a branch of the B.C. Economic Development Ministry—decided to stop recording minutes of its meetings. And also that Vanoc stopped forwarding its minutes to the B.C. Secretariat.
Both entities’ actions put the contents of their meetings outside the reach of freedom-of-information requests.
An April 2008 story in the Georgia Straight described these sources of information as key to understanding the finance and management of the Games. That story noted that the Straight had twice obtained hundreds of pages of minutes from both entities through request made under the Freedom of Information Act. When a third request made by the Straight, no records could be located.
The ICC report states: “A lack of disclosure through public records of minutes greatly reduces the public’s ability to monitor VANOC and the Olympic planning process which is spending $2.5 billion of taxpayers’ money, largely without public consultation.”
Three recommendations are included in the report as a means to restore transparency to the planning of the Games. It is suggested that all information from meetings for all Olympic-related meetings be recorded and posted openly; that Vanoc board meetings be opened to the public; and that a reinvestment be made in social housing at the Athletes’ Village.
The report lists eight additional practices of Vanoc and its government partners as areas of special concern.
1. Pledging to increase bylaw infraction tickets given to the homeless in the 2008 and 2009 VPD business plans;
2. Installing hundreds of security cameras that may remain in place post-Olympics without public debate or discussion; and
3. Overstating threats to justify civil liberty violations against housing, environmental and anti-poverty protesters
4. A lack of consultation with inner-city residents
5. The access of homeless to essential services in restricted areas, in particular near Olympic venues such as GM Place
6. Lack of venue for complaints for the public against ISU members to ensure timely response
7. Lack of available due process/police intervention for illegal evictions to make room for tourists
8. No funding for an independent watchdog group
The report describes the ICC as “a broad-based independent community coalition whose mission is to mitigate the negative impacts of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and to advocate for a post-Games, community-based legacy.”
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