City report on 2010 Olympic costs being questioned

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

5 comments


Vision Vancouver never really embraced the 2010 Games and a staff report now confirms it

We're all flying like mad here at CityCaucus.com tower this week as the number of brown envelopes and tips we've been receiving over the last several weeks has grown exponentially. Not sure why so many Vancouver City staff are so keen to talk to us lately, but they're keeping our team really busy. We'll have more to report on those tips in the coming weeks.

Despite the craziness, we simply couldn't let a report on Vancouver's so-called "2010 Olympic costs" go without some commentary. A more detailed analysis will be coming this weekend, but prior to that we are highly recommending you read Jeff Lee's blog post on the report. Lee captures what most people must be thinking when they read that Vision Vancouver included the following as 2010 Olympic Games expenses:

  • seismic upgrading of the Granville Bridge
  • upgrades to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Granville Mall updgrades
  • Expo deck repairs
  • the list goes on...and on

It's really interesting that some things like the cost to operate the HEAT shelters which kept people off the street (and away from the international media) during the Games were not included? Given Vision threw everything into the report except the kitchen sink, I fully expected to see the cost of dog catchers included. After all, I'm sure a few visitors to Vancouver during the Games brought their pets and this must have cost the City something.

I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this report has to be one of the most partisan documents to come out of the City Manager's Office in a long time. That's likely why Ken Bayne, one of the City's most respected bean counters, didn't attach his name to it. I don't blame him. Here is what Olympic reporter Jeff Lee had to say about the City's report:

I just look at this and wonder why the city put this report out without balancing it against the offsets it will receive or putting it into context. You can't lay the blame for 26 days of events on a half-billion dollar bill. This wouldn't fly by an accountant, I think.

Moreover, I am surprised that the report - written by two senior managers, Peter Judd, the general manager of Olympic operations and Patrice Impey, the general manager of financial services, appears to be so full of holes. That's not the normal pattern of normally careful civic bureaucrats. I'm reminded of a lesson Fritz Bowers, the scrupulous city manager who years ago made the transition from being an elected politician so well that he was known for sending back to staff reports that appeared to have political overtones. You could almost see the scars on his backside left from sitting on the fence.

We'll have a lot more to report on this questionable report in the days to come. Stay tuned for more.

5 Comments

I'm saddened by this report. Any fair-minded person knows it's deliberately inflated in order to serve a political purpose. I hope Peter and Patrice were forced to put their names on it.

As a public servant I have long believed that our role is to be objective, apolitical, and to speak truth to power. This report suggests that the rot in city hall is deep and foul.

This report is a clear indication that vancouver city hall has become totally politicized. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw what staff included in this report. What an embarrassing thing for these civil servants to put their name to. I'm sure vision forced them to do it.

I carefully read the report since like many Vancouver residents, I was genuinely interested in what the Olympics cost us as a city. My first thought was that the report was mischievous...not only because some of the costs were for items approved prior to Vancouver even getting the Olympics, but also because there is no proper distinction between one-time costs that have been spent, (and the benefit is over); investments in long term community infrastructure, and investments in land which will be recovered from future sales and other revenues.

To put it another way, if this was a report on a household's expenses, it doesn't distinguish between the cost paid for last night's dinner, the monthly mortgage payment, and an annual contribution to an RRSP. We all know that these payments are different....some are sunk costs, some are investments, and some are a combination of the two.

Hopefully the City Manager and Councillors will understand this too, and direct staff to re-write the report to distinguish between the different category of costs. Then the report will be helpful. At the moment, it's alarmist!

Good points, Michael. Note that this "news" distributed by the city was published widely abroad, including by the Washington Post and others. Just like Gregor's "billion dollar boondoggle" remarks last year, Vision are doing their level best to damage Vancouver's reputation.

Michael,

I appreciate that you're a nice fellow and all, your reputation is exemplary.

But seriously, my dead grandmother punches harder than you.

It's understandable that you tread carefully because your business is involved to some extent and from time to time with those at city hall.

18 months out from an election, perhaps you haven't decided whether or not to give it another go.

At some point though, you're going to have to take the gloves off and hit harder than you are presently if you plan to get into the ring with this ship of con artists and fools.

I doubt very much the months leading up to the 2011 election Vision will give their opposition much to clobber them with.

Do it now when their reputation is at question and before the opportunity slips away.......trying to win an election based on 12 month old scandals is pretty tough, just ask Carole james 2x.

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