Breaking News: Cernetig reports social housing cost overruns at Athletes Village

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,

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The Vancouver Sun has just posted a story from intrepid columnist Miro Cernetig (he gets all the best scoops!) regarding a financial crisis in relation to the construction of social housing at the Olympic Village. Here is what they have posted so far:

VANCOUVER — The costs of social housing at the Olympic Athletes Village is spiralling out of control, going as much as $75 million over the original budget.

That bombshell will be coming out Monday night on Vancouver's City council's website.

The cost over-run, which is the latest in a series of financial woes at the Olympic village, means that Vancouver's cash-strapped city hall will either have to invest tens of millions into the village or reduce its promise to put 20 per cent social housing in the $1-billion development.

The news will be a major challenge to Mayor Gregor Robertson, who has campaigned on creating more affordable and social housing in his three-year term.

Now, just two months into the job he faces the possibility of cutting back social housing at the Olympic Village or finding the money to pay for it.

City Hall is confirming some of the drivers of increased costs for the social housing units include the fact the previous 2002-2005 COPE/Vision Council:

  • Decided to change from the tower form of buildings to lower profile buildings which were much more expensive to build
  • Chose to include a high level of public amenities
  • Selected a number of unusual floor plates
  • Dedicated a lot more floor space to hallways and stairs

In 2005, the NPA chose to eliminate "mid-market housing" at the Olympic Village based on the fact they didn't want to have taxpayers subsidize people with moderate incomes. In order to make the project more financially viable, they also reduced the amount of subsidized social housing from 33% to 23%.

It will now cost $110 million to construct the social housing units at the Olympic Village. However, if the previous Vision/COPE social housing plan been implemented, that cost would have risen to about $155 million dollars. That is a difference of approximately $45 million dollars that would have been added to the cost of the project.

Construction Costs for each social housing unit are now pegged at nearly $440,000.  

Check back here in the coming days to find a more in-depth post regarding how much social housing was originally planned for the Olympic Village site, and what it would have cost Vancouver taxpayers. 

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