The response online from Globe & Mail readers says it all
Things have gone from really bad to just a little bit worse today at Vancouver's Olympic Village. After a several month process to find a non-profit operator for the 252 social and rental housing units at the Southeast False Creek development, the Province of BC has rejected the last three applicants left standing.
According to last night's breaking news story from the Globe and Mail's Frances Bula:
Housing Minister Rich Coleman said Tuesday that two of the three bids that came in by BC Housing’s Monday deadline were from operators who don’t have the experience in operating such a complex mix of market and social-housing units. The third bidder wants to establish a co-op, which is not part of his ministry’s mandate, he said.
Of the three applicants left at the end of the process, only one – the Portland Hotel Society – was considered actually qualified to manage the project. Speaking on CBC Early Edition this morning with Rick Cluff and Coun. Geoff Meggs, PHS boss Mark Townsend said he was "disappointed" at the decision by BC Housing, and cited the challenges of running a mixed-use development and the high up-front cost to lease the property as complicating factors.
Minister Rich Coleman explained the reasons for the rejection:
“We had hoped for a better outcome, but we just didn’t find the right operators,” Mr. Coleman said. “This is a mix of market and social housing and you need an operator that knows both. We didn’t see any of the higher operators bidding.”
Coun. Geoff Meggs fell back into his usual political message box, blaming all the problems on the project and the City's failure to get the units occupied on the previous city council. Meggs was unwilling to accept any of the blame for this outcome, despite the fact it was him that moved the decision to make the rental units go to teachers, police and other essential service unionized workers first.
During the summer we reported that the RFP process to find a third party operator for the housing units was mired in a mess resulting from the City's terms, including the requirement to give union workers the first crack at the units. At the time we asked if the whole Olympic Village project had been tainted by Vision Vancouver's election time politicking. We've since been proven correct on that assessment, given that the troubled project is not selling and the City is scrambling to respond to a stream of bad news.
Yesterday, Bula reported that the whole Olympic Village is deemed to be in big, big trouble:
That’s one more difficulty for an Olympics project that has become the city’s biggest albatross, as it struggles with both the difficult social-housing project and the private developer side, where the city is still owed $731-million it lent out in order to make sure the village got built in time for the Games. Mayor Gregor Robertson said bluntly Monday that “there’s still significant risk of losing money in this through the financing.”
We recommend to our readers that they check out both of Frances' recent reports at globeandmail.com/bc. For further background on the facts of how we got into this mess, read our previous feature reports on the history of the Olympic Village:
- Which way out of the Vancouver Olympic Village mess?
- Olympic Village decisions defined political differences
There is a Vision Hit List, but apparently I'm the only one on it!
Just a quick follow-up on the ongoing smear campaign that has direct links to Gregor Robertson and his staff. We all had a good laugh at the reputed Vision Hit List with 15 names who supposedly were in the doghouse with Gregor & co.
At the time I pointed out that there were repeated smears upon my reputation conducted by a close friend and political ally of chief of staff Mike Magee. Well, the unsubstantiated attacks are continuing, with a misleading and inaccurate report posted on the sister of Joel Solomon's webzine.
The popular term for what these boys are up to is called "Swiftboating," as in the character assassination conducted against Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election.
Riddled with inaccuracies, what was written was just plain sloppy reporting. It's a shame that a website whose editor purports to have award-winning journalistic credentials would publish such rubbish.
Here is my response to the smear, which provides the facts.
- post by Mike