Vancouver's Olympic Village likely brought down NPA: Wikileaks U.S. embassy cable

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      The U.S. Consulate in Vancouver credited the Olympic Village’s financial woes with Vision Vancouver’s November 2008 win over the NPA, the latest Wikileaks cables reveal.

      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson defeated the NPA’s Peter Ladner while riding on a public backlash against the latter party’s perceived mishandling of the Olympic Village’s financing.

      The consulate cable, dated February 12, 2009, is part of a larger database of some 250,000 classified U.S. communications leaked to the Guardian and a small number of other media outlets by the whistleblower website Wikileaks.

      The Vancouver consulate dispatch made public today by the Guardian focused on the 2010 Winter Olympics and the financial difficulties Vanoc faced preparing for the Games in the wake of the global financial crisis.

      “Because of the economic downturn, the Vancouver Olympics Committee (VANOC) has already announced modest changes to save money, but is still promising to stage spectacular Games - within available financial resources,” the cable states.

      The author noted that optimism over the Games “remains strong”, and that Vanoc was showing “remarkable financial astuteness”.

      The cable then goes on to describe in detail the problem that the Olympic Village had become. That section reads in full:

      4. (U) The same cannot be said for the C$700 million-plus Olympic Village, a key element of the Games and a major responsibility of the City of Vancouver. The Village is being developed by a private corporation on prime waterfront land provided by the city. It's slated to become a mixed use residential/commercial area after the Games with high, middle and low-income housing. The developer ran into problems in September, when more than C$100 million in cost overruns threatened to stop the project. Then Mayor Sam Sullivan and the City Council held a series of closed door meetings where they developed a plan for the city to provide guarantees so a loan could be obtained to cover the increases. The secretiveness of the financial arrangements became a major factor in the December city elections, which saw Sullivan's coalition lose the mayoral seat and all but one city council position. In addition, the controversy caused the city manager, a senior deputy and the chief financial officer to lose their jobs. In December, just after the elections, the primary financial backer of the project, U.S. company Fortress Investment Group, announced it would not deliver the final C$458 million in capital to complete the project due to financial losses from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The new mayor, Gregor Robertson, found himself in the same hot seat, dealing with the possible collapse of the project. In the end, he sought, and was granted, special provincial legislative authority for the city to seek loans to cover completion of the project. Olympic critics have had a field day with the problems, promoting stories of taxpayer losses in the billions, and a combination of substantive factors led Moody's and Standard & Poor to place the City of Vancouver on credit-watch status. Real estate analysts have been more optimistic, asserting that the city could make a considerable profit on the deal down the road and highlighting the fact that it is the last undeveloped piece of waterfront property in downtown and very desirable. The city paid only C$50 million for the land through its Property Endowment Fund, a longterm investment fund estimated to be worth almost C$3 billion. Even if the development makes only half of the originally estimated profit, the fund could cover the immediate loss without affecting the city operation's budget and, as a longterm investment, it could still be a win for the city. VANOC's Guscott was confident the city would meet its part of the deal, presenting a completed, functioning Village on time. In VANOC's view the project has been caught in an unfortunate cross between municipal elections and the downturn in the economy, with the financial problems severely overblown.

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      I'll take one!

      Dec 21, 2010 at 11:16am

      I've been on the list for social housing for the last 5 years!!!
      I make just under 900 dollars per month and my rent is 680.
      I'm almost 40. Do you think I will make it to 50 without joining the ranks of the homeless?
      My boss says I could get a promotion if i didn't have such a bad attitude.
      He runs the local natural foods chain.

      Take it easy

      Dec 21, 2010 at 12:10pm

      "I'll take one": That's a distasteful allusion. Brutal.

      Ken Lawson

      Dec 21, 2010 at 1:06pm

      @I'll take one, I think your chances of getting one are between slim and none, I do not personally think any of the Olympic Village will be sold until the Wall projects have been completed and sold out. They are much more of a quality developer as you can see by their other projects. If they want to sell Mr Condo will have to come with 40% discount and 10 year guarantee on all appliances plus free 2 stall parking for residents, also must include parking meters for bikes on the streets.

      Chris S

      Dec 21, 2010 at 4:50pm

      Another bombshell courtesy of Wikileaks. Here I was thinking Gregor got voted in because everyone wanted bike lanes...

      Ken Lawson

      Dec 21, 2010 at 10:16pm

      @Chris S He got in because he wanted bike lanes, the votes were pissed off at the NPA, there were not thinking about bike lanes only Gregor was! Vote agree if your voting against Gregor next time, or Vote disagree if your Voting for Gregor

      I'll take one!

      Dec 21, 2010 at 10:31pm

      There was no pun intended in my post at all.
      I am serious. The place I live in currently has 3 inch long cockroaches.
      I have incurred debt to educate myself and the only thing this economy has to offer me is a job at starbucks and an overpriced condo wrapped up in post-Olympic melancholia.

      I say just burn 'em to the ground.

      RE-Elected on bike lanes

      Dec 22, 2010 at 12:42pm

      Once the west siders get their new bikes for Christmas and the summer hits, the bike lanes will be uber popular amongst the swing voters. Fortunately, cranky suburbanites don't get a vote.

      Mike James

      Dec 22, 2010 at 12:45pm

      I wonder if the world has finally run out of yuppies to buy luxury condos.


      Dec 22, 2010 at 4:45pm

      And its going to bring down Vision.

      Bob Allart

      Dec 22, 2010 at 5:42pm

      Wed 2010 Dec 22, approx 6 pm local Vancouver BC.

      Not necessarily for publication; note for GS staff.

      Oddly, I read an article at Spamhaus re a hijacked link referral to a false WikiLeaks mirror. The article link:

      And, in fairness, a denial of the article's allegations:

      I would NOT use the provided link to check what Google says about that allegedly compromised site; I might suggest independently going to Google itself, and finding their malware report summaries yourself.

      If indeed malware were actually being distributed by the supposedly compromised or questionable site, it would be a shame if GS readers following your WikiLeaks link got hit with some kind of spyware.

      At this very subjective moment of writing this to you guys/gals, it seems the official WL mirrors are under heavy DDOS attack (again). It may be difficult to verify which of WikiLeaks' mirrors are in fact official and not fake. Good luck! I provide a few links anyways, which you can always verify yourself via the almighty Goog, praise be before its all-seeing AI-ness. Links:

      Under current attack:

      General WK info within WikiPedia inc list of official mirrors somewhere in there:

      Please change your link, and maybe provide a little update/warning re this stuff.

      Will also try to send this same exact thing via your regular email route in a few minutes. Thanks very much.

      - Old Geek Reader.

      PS - Georgia Straight rocks!