Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Non-Partisan Association desperately tries to evade responsiblity for Olympic Village mess - but the evidence is in

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday January 20, 2009

NPA playing the blame-game


"The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have."

- Author Brian Koslow

Vancouver taxpayers face the biggest potential disaster this city has seen since it burned to the ground in 1886, thanks to the Olympic Village fiasco.

It's astonishing that the B.C. Legislature had to be recalled for an emergency session to give Vancouver authority to borrow up to $875 million to complete the Millennium Development condominium project that will be temporarily home to 2010 Olympic athletes.

But even more astonishing is that former politicians and staff from the Non-Partisan Association city government that got Vancouver into this mess are now trying desperately to evade responsibility for it.

And no wonder. The NPA's outrageous behaviour has left taxpayers on the hook for an undetermined amount that could exceed $200 million.

"This project will not land on the taxpayers," says Peter Ladner, the NPA's mayoral candidate and former councillor.

Ladner complains that Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is "using inflammatory rhetoric and misleading information" to hold the NPA accountable for "problems beyond their control."

And Daniel Fontaine, former chief of staff to NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan, and other NPA stalwarts at website Citycaucus cry about the "blame-game" going on.


Look at four key facts about the Olympic Village and decide:

  • Flash back to April 2006, when council had to pick between three developers' proposals for the Olympic Village.
Millennium Development won with the highest cash offer for city land, beating out the Wall Group and Concord Pacific, both developers with long successful track records.

But despite requests from Vision and Coalition of Progressive Electors councillors, the NPA majority refused to allow them to see all three full proposals.

  • In June 2007, the NPA majority voted to guarantee a loan to Millennium for completion of the Olympic Village - a loan which put Vancouver on the hook for the entire project when Fortress Investment Group, Millennium's lender, put the brakes on funding. Vision and COPE councillors voted no.

  • In October 2008 Vision and COPE tried to make open to the public and media a council meeting that gave a further $100- million loan guarantee to Millennium - but were voted down by the NPA majority.

  • The city's chief financial officer, Estelle Lo, quit because the NPA wouldn't listen to her deep concerns about the project.

The results of the NPA's work are clear - Vancouver's good credit rating is in jeopardy, according to rating agency Standard & Poor's, and the city at risk for hundreds of millions if the project doesn't break even.

So for the NPA to complain is pretty rich - and fixing their mess may make the city a lot poorer.

Full disclosure: Bill Tieleman is a Vision Vancouver supporter.



Anonymous said...

Heck I'm a Vision Vancouver supporter too Bill. And I don't live there anymore. I tried posting something on the NPA support site and it never quite ended up there, even after I managed to get the number letter code correct. People learned long ago if they says things often enough some suckers will buy the product. Heck it works for Gordo so why not the NPA. The new council by being up front on their dealings will do themselves a lot of good. They have been dealt a bad hand but I sure believe they will sort it out. And the citizens will be happy to see less costs.

Anonymous said...

"The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have."

- Author Brian Koslow

Although this quote applies to the NPA, it also applies to the BC NDP for its performance that brought Campbell to power. If British Columbians heard the NDP accept responsibility for its pre-2001 record and tell them what they learned from it, they would have a much better chance of replacing the arrogant and empathy deficient Campbell government.

Anonymous said...

Vision and COPE also try to evade responsibility.

Both Parties had members presne at the In Camera and Public meetings on the issue and all would have received the Auditors report that hilighted the potential difficulty.

Non have clean hands