Anton motion calls for more transparency regarding Olympic Village project

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

60 comments

gregorsuzanne.jpeg
Robertson and Anton will square off next week regarding controversial development

It was the central theme of the last civic election, but few people are talking about the financial status of Olympic Village any longer. Is that about to change?

NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton is putting forward a motion for next week's council agenda. What follows is her statement to the media:

NPA Candidate for Mayor Suzanne Anton is calling on City Hall to release information on sales, social housing and the overall financial position of the Olympic Village project.

“The Olympic Village at Southeast False Creek has been an ongoing financial concern for Vancouver residents,” says Anton. “And Mayor Robertson promised during the last election to be open and transparent on this. They need to report on the village by November 1.”

A receiver was appointed to oversee the development in November 2010. Anton says the last financial reporting by the city was in April 2011. She believes a report would be of great interest to voters at this point.

Anton has submitted a motion requesting staff provide a complete reporting on the Olympic Village project by 1 November 2011 including: sales month to month, the overall financial position of the project, and the social housing occupancy, including numbers of market/ non-market tenants, and numbers of police, fire and teacher occupants as directed by council motion of April 2010.

A copy of the motion is below.

Whereas:

1. The Olympic Village at Southeast False Creek has been an ongoing financial concern for Vancouver residents;
2. Openness and transparency around the Olympic Village were an election commitment of Mayor Robertson;
3. A receiver was appointed to oversee the development in November 2010;
4. The last financial reporting by the city was in April 2011; and
5. A reporting out prior to the election would be of interest to voters;

Therefore it is resolved that staff are requested to provide a complete reporting on the Olympic Village project by 1 November 2011 including:

1. A report on sales with month to month data;
2. The overall financial position of the project; and
3. The social housing occupancy, including numbers of market/ non-market tenants, and numbers of police, fire and teacher occupants as directed by council motion of April 2010.

Over at the west wing of City Hall, Vision campaign staff seem to think there is no need to debate Anton's motion. That's because rather than waiting for a staff report written by hand-picked City Manager Penny Ballem, Vision councillor Geoff Meggs has already pre-empted her work.

Meggs was privy to some information regarding the controversial Olympic Village project and subsequently posted the following information on his blog:

Almost three years to the day since Sam Sullivan’s NPA council voted in camera to bail out Millennium’s Olympic Village project, city council has received a brief update on the receiver’s work to recover the city’s investment.

(Moody’s was so impressed with progress in resolving the financial issues related to the Olympic Village that it upgraded the city’s credit rating last spring in the wake of a May report by the receiver.)

Here are the numbers in terms of unit sales:

Market (For Sale) Condominiums

  • Total sales: 427 sold out of 737 market units (60% sold)
  • Sales since February 2011 launch: 164 (164 units over 156 days – just over one per day) to mid September 2011
  • Total rented: 26 market units have been rented
  • Total market units occupied: 453 out of 737 units (62% occupied)

Market Rental Units

Total rented: 119 out of 119 rental units (100% rented)

Commercial Spaces

  • TD Bank and Legacy Liquor Store open
  • Terra Breads: successfully opened Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011
  • Laundry/Drycleaning Store: tenant improvements under way with anticipated opening by end of year
  • Urban Fare: scheduled to open in June 2012 but they are attempting to open in May 2012
  • London Drugs: anticipated to open by end of May 2012

City Owned Commercial Spaces

  • Creekside Community Centre – Village Kitchen Restaurant scheduled to open in the spring of 2012
  • Salt Building: City is in negotiations to finalize long term tenancy – in the meantime, the Salt Building is being used for short term tenancies

Affordable Housing

  • The two City buildings (on Parcels 5 and 9) - both 100% occupied (total of 168 units)
  • Co-op (Parcel 2) - ~80% occupied (66 of 84 units)

Overall occupancy of the Village is 73%

Meanwhile, we asked regular CityCaucus.com contributor and local developer Michael Geller to read Meggs' post and let us know what he thinks. He responded by posing the following questions:

  1. How much has each of the' social housing' units cost the city to date?
  2. Is it true that many of the people in the social housing units are very unhappy with their 'units, especially their monthly energy costs, and are worried that they may have to move out unless the city provides further subsidies?
  3. How much rent is the city collecting for these units, and how much is it losing each month? What is the capitalized value of these losses?
  4. How much money would the city have made if these units had been sold as condominiums?
  5. How many firefighters have moved into the 'social housing' units that were converted to market rental units (against the advice of most housing experts)? Is it true that the answer is none? How many of these units are currently vacant? What are the monthly holding costs on unrented units? What is the average monthly rent being charged?
  6. How much money has the city spent on deficiencies and repairs since taking over the project? How much remains to be spent?
  7. How much has the city spent on receivers, lawyers, marketing costs and other consultants over the past 3 years?
  8. When does the receiver and marketing team estimate that the project will sell out? What are the monthly holding costs on the unsold units? How much money is the city projected to lose on the sale of the market condominium units?
  9. When one adds up the losses to date on the 'social housing' units, the 'aspirational' loss on the balance of the outstanding land payment of approximately $175 million, the estimated losses on the market condominium units, the monies paid out to receivers, etc. (less the estimated recovery from the developer's security), what are the total estimated losses resulting from the city's decsion to put the Olympic Village developer into receivership?
  10. In view of these losses, how can anyone be proud of the city's accomplishments at the Olympic Village over the past three years?

With the politicization of the senior ranks of Vancouver City Hall so rampant these days, perhaps Meggs and company have a point. Why bother waiting for independent staff reports when they can be quickly drafted up by politicians and posted on their blogs instead!

Sadly, such is the new reality at 12th and Cambie.

NOTE: If you want journalist Bob Mackin's perspective on all of this, please read his latest blog post which we hope to run as a guest editorial here shortly.

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on on Twitter @CityCaucus or you can "like" us on Facebook at facebook.com/citycaucus.

60 Comments

The information contained in my blog posting was public information circulated to all councillors several days earlier in an e-mail from City Manager Penny Ballem. Suggestions to the contrary are simply false.

With all due respect Geoff, the information you posted on your blog was not provided to the public or media - either on the City's website or via a staff report. This is generally how this has been done in the past.

Rather, the Olympic Village info was shared with members of Vancouver council via an internal memo from the City Manager. As such, members of council were privy to information that the general public/media was not.

If this information is incorrect, please post your response here.

Editor

Geller is asking reasonable questions, I think we're all looking to get a number on how the salvage efforts are going, including any that have been amortized instead of liquidated.

Even better, though, is to do an apples-to-apples comparison to some of those nice reports from about 2 years ago. You know, metrics and all that.

I did not draft up this information, as you stated. It was provided to all council by the City Manager, some days before I posted it. It was not confidential.

Geoff Meggs
With all due respect, did you just throw the City Manager under the bus :-)

In fairness, Mr Meggs, you didn't state this fact on your blog and if you really think it's important, as opposed to an opportunity for posturing, perhaps you should have.

In fairness, doesn't the primary responsibility to ensure a story is factual belong to the writer or publication, rather than the subjects of their stories?

The story is factual, it was simply misattributed. If you look at Mr Megg's blog you will see there is no reason to think anyone but he wrote it. It is good practice, when quoting someone else's work as Mr Megg's does, to give appropriate credit or references. Had he done so there would not have been any mistake, perhaps Penny should be complaining about plagiarism!

OV has been a challenge from the beginning because it has been as much a political football as it has been a large development. In a sense, I am glad VV is finally posting information in a positive way after the damage the Mayor did to the sales effort when he called it a train wreck (or something to that effect). At that time, he should have been the City cheerleader trying to help Rennie sell the units for the highest dollar possible.

However, as Mr. Geller points out, citizens deserve a full and plain accounting of the project – by plain I mean simple math. There will be justifiable accounting treatment of some of the numbers that can make things look better (or worse) than reality. Whether it is this council or the next, I hope someone can put the football down, grab some guts and let everyone know the true state of the numbers around OV. Given they are the true debt holders, the people of Vancouver deserve no less.

David:

The responsibility for accuracy always rests with the author/publication. Good journalism should correct misapprehensions, not perpetuate them.

Chirs:

CC has quoted where the info was sourced from.

If Cllr. Meggs has posted this on his blog without attributing the source from which he got it, take the complaint to him.

I saw Michael Geller's questions on OV posted on Frances Bula's blog, where they (oddly) received an unecessarily curt reply from the blog's owner. IMHO, she should be asking those questions.

If someone tells me that 73% of the Ov is sold, that leaves me wondering how many units, EXACTLY, are still "avaialble"? I have one friend living there who tells me that several buildings are still unoccupied/unsold.

Additionally, the costs of energy appeaar to be causing some concern amoongst homeowners there. Is this an unanticupated result of Leed's Gold Standards---or just lousy building design or construction? To be bleating about fixing "deficiencies" more than a year after people have moved in is pure bullsquat.

Deficiencies are to be dealt with within a reasonable anmopunt of time. It sounds like these are ongoing problems with the buildings.

And no cops or firefighters in those suites? How many of those set aside unitsdoes that add back into the unrented/unsold stock?

And I haven't even talked about financing issues. Sigh.

REAL NUMBERS! REAL NUMBERS! REAL NUMBERS!

"Additionally, the costs of energy appeaar to be causing some concern amongst homeowners there. Is this an unanticupated result of Leed's Gold Standards---or just lousy building design or construction?"

It may be simply that early residents were not aware that they would have to pay power bills, or were unable to interpret them. Upon investigation, the solution from the city was apparently to offer training to residents on how to read the bills.

It would be interesting to see what the actual energy consumption is.

@Jeff L.

What the low income and senior tentants were not told was that they would be paying a thrid party for their energy consumtion - Enerpro located in North Vancouver.

And just coincidentally, Enerpro has a Joel Solomon/Renewal Partners connection. (Don't get me started on the fact this seems to be yet another untendered contract given to a Vision friendly)

To-boot, these low income and seniors are paying $12.50 just as a staight paper invoicing/handling charge, which I see now has been lowered to $9.50 (+/- a few cents)'to help them out'.

To think that the city needs to hire an advocate to explain the energy bills to these people is just mind boggling. I mean truly, how did these people manage previous years figuring out their own bills....

And it was very sad to read that a senior was sleeping in his clothes during the cold months because the heat in his new 'green' apartment was not working properly, and/or that some may be facing that same prospect in order to balance already tight budgets.

Now, I live in a 650 sq foot apartment with old baseboard heating and have my own hot water tank. My hydro bill is roughly $40/month during the winter months. How is it these people are paying double plus if all these supposed energy saving 'products' have been put into place.

Something isn't right.

Max,
Let's not hide behind politically correctness.
Enerpro got the contract plain and simple based on recommendation and connection through City Hall- Ballem, Solomon's Renewal Partners in misdirection,and Vision Vancouver. Same as everybody else hired by the city (VSchoolBoard; VParkBoard, VCityHall)in the past three years coincidentally since this Vision gang took office. Period.
Why it cost more? Because Enerpro needs to get paid. That was the deal. Green business? From North Vancouver? Oh yes indeed!

Something Stinks..
"Is this an unanticupated result of Leed's Gold Standards---or just lousy building design or construction? To be bleating about fixing "deficiencies" more than a year after people have moved in is pure bullsquat."

Actually it is both...Vision pushed the Leed standards...forcing crews to do shoddy work under time constraints...I was there..in some instances unqualified workers were used..lots of deals going on...Politics at their best...

Frances Bula has encouraged me to prepare a financial comparison between the current economic outlook for Olympic Village and what it might have been had some of my recommendations (eg: sell the social housing units; strata title and sell the 119 rental housing units) been followed.

I plan to do so...working with other real estate professionals...but would welcome additional financial information from the city/receiver. In particular, it would be helpful to know just how much each component of the project has cost to date, including interest and other holding costs.

If you agree that the city should share this information before the election, I hope you will encourage it to do so. After all, the current administration won the last election in large part as a result of leaked in-camera reports on the Olympic Village financing, and a promise to be much more open. transparent and forthright.

Let's hope it keeps its word.

Really Michael, why should Citizen Geller and his real estate colleagues have to do the very considerable work required to provide the complete and comprehensive information information necessary for taxpayers to understand what's going on with respect to their 1 billion dollar investment? The information provided by the Vision administration to date is so incomplete that it is impossible to understand what is happening with respect to the management of this project and what is the probable outcomes.

"Trust us" doesn't have any credibility here. I suspect you will have to get a whole lot of basic information from the City just to be able to start your detailed comprehensive analysis. And, I doubt the City will be quick to be "open and transparent". We'll see...

Citizen Geller should,in fact, not have to lift a pencil, he should be given a full accounting of all the direct and indirect costs by the City. It's their project, they have, or should have the data.

@Max

I haven't seen the energy bills from apartments in the Olympic Village, but it would be interesting to see them.

It isn't as simple as saying "my Hydro bill is $40". I live in an apartment several times the size of yours, and my Hydro bill is the same as yours. Slightly higher when I run the two heat pumps as air conditioners in the summer. But it is irrelevant, simply because my $40 doesn't cover much of the cost of heating in my case. My building is on district heat, with heat pumps in each suite, and we have a gas fireplace in our suite. A gas range too, for that matter. Neither the district heat or the gas is metered to the apartment, so we pay that through our strata fees. Same as our water bills. And our water heating.

If we are going to compare energy costs for different buildings, particularly those that use a variety of technologies, we need all the energy costs. Otherwise, using my bill as an example, I would just quote the few watts required to run my heat pump fans and it would look quite good.

Enerpro promote systems that show all energy costs, and so I would expect those monthly bills to be higher than a simple Hydro electric bill. At the same time, I would expect the costs going to the strata association (shared costs) to be lower. Enerpro note on their web site that they charge for electricity, district heating, hot water, and cold water. Also, that those costs aren't marked up, but rather set by the various utilities. They only make the admin fee. I don't know what the equivalent admin fees would be from all the separate utilities if charged independently.

If the building construction specs called for a central energy management system with consolidated billing for each suite, I am not clear on who the competitors are to Enerpro that could have bid on that service. But you should perhaps look to the architects who wrote the spec, and not the current owners. Deals like that are won when the specs are written, not when the systems are being installed.

It would be interesting to see full energy audits on sample apartments in the Olympic Village, and similar apartments outside the village.

@Max

Two points I hadn't added when I hit submit.

First is that Enerpro's invoices are bi-monthly. Presumably the people paying twice as much as previously know that.

Second is that Enerpro also invoices for cooling costs, not just heating costss. I know myself what air conditioning costs to run compared to base electrical loads. It wouldn't surprise me at all that some new Olympic Village residents need assistance to both interpret their bills, and to learn how to use all the controls they have to keep their energy costs as low as possible.

Just curious as to if this project is in the HPO program? Seems to me the builder needs to address all buyer concerns within one calendar year the same as all us private builders?

Jeff L:

The Georgia Straight has done extensive coverage on the continuning issues with Enerpro which is separate billing from BC Hydro.

If it takes electricity to heat water, then why is there a separate charge for hot water? And cold water?

These are suppose to be net zero buildings, but people are being above the norm in untility bills.

I used myself as an example as I live in an older building that does not have all the up-to-date green technology which in theory (or at least, what we have been told) is suppose to cut back on energy consumption which in turn, should reflect as such on the bill.

These questions were sent to Enerpro by COHO:

COHO’s list has 36 questions, and more than half of these are about Enerpro.

“Why is my bill so high?” is one question.

Other questions include:

”¢ “Why does Enerpro charge for cold water?”

”¢ “Why didn’t everyone get an application for Enerpro when they signed up?”

”¢ “Why does a response from Enerpro take so long?”

”¢ “Is there double billing going on with Enerpro vs. BC Hydro?”

”¢ “How did Enerpro get a contract in the first place?”

”¢ “Why do tenants pay for hot water from a tap that isn’t hot?”

On July 27, the Straight inquired by email as to how COHO has answered these questions.

As of today (July 29), COHO hasn’t responded.

****

And this which was included in a letter sent to Andrea Reimer:

'We have never heard of any seniors housing with residents on fixed incomes having to pay 4 - 5 times the going rate for utilities from a company that we have never heard of. If these utility charges were imposed on the average citizens of Vancouver there would be hell to pay. We are disadvantage people and feel we have unwittingly signed on as test subjects in some kind of experiment. We are people and want to be informed and involved.'

Where did this 'Enerpro' come from in the first place?

My hydro bill for my condo is my hydro bill with no markup. When I had a house the hydro bill was the hydro bill - with no markup, and the gas bill was the gas bill - with no markup.

Those who are suggesting this is a Vision payoff may have a point.

Also, why is the developer (read City now) not providing the new owners / renters with instruction on how to use their super new systems? Architects do a 'commissioning' for a new building when turning it over to the owner, and this includes making sure they know how to operate their fancy new gadgets.

@Max:

"If it takes electricity to heat water, then why is there a separate charge for hot water? And cold water?"

You don't generally heat water with electricity when you are on a district heat utility like the Olympic Village is.

I am pretty sure that you pay for cold water from the CoV just the same as I do. If it isn't metered to your apartment like the Olympic Village units,then it will be in your strata fees (or possibly included in your rent). Enerpro notes on their web site that the water utility fees are paid to the CoV.

Enerpro put up an FAQ specifically for billing issues for the village at False Creek. Take a look: http://www.enerprosystems.com/energy_billing_FAQ.pdf

@Bill:

"Where did this 'Enerpro' come from in the first place?

My hydro bill for my condo is my hydro bill with no markup. When I had a house the hydro bill was the hydro bill - with no markup, and the gas bill was the gas bill - with no markup."

Read all about Enerpro: http://www.enerprosystems.com/about.html

What your condo doesn't appear to have is the benefit or complexity of a district heating system. There are potential efficiency savings to be made by using district heating. One of the consequences is that you will have multiple bills. It isn't just a gas bill and an electricity bill. Also, if you want to provide transparency to condo owners and not lump all the costs into the strata fees, you meter it at the condo level. All this results in an opportunity for a billing aggregator. Enter Enerpro.

You note that your gas bill was your gas bill, with no markup. Fair enough. But did it include a fixed component as well as the usage charge? Mine did, $11.84 monthly on my most recent Terasen gas bill (from 2009). It would be interesting to see if the Village on False Creek recharges from Enerpro include the same fixed fees as individual consumers are charged.

OV has been a monumental failure since day one.They decided to up the standards after it was already in an advanced stage of construction and it cost an extra 100 million dollars,they brought in a middleman enerpro that was charging over $12 to print a bill and when people exposed the scam like magic they were able to cut those bills by 20% or more,do you think they just might have been overcharging to begin with? Enerpro is a SCAM SCAM SCAM.Has anyone ever heard someone say their happy with enerpro ,anyone saved money,NOT.Now we have to pay for a coarse on how to use their equipment because we are just too stupid,its all our fault.If you are a landlord they hold you responsible for your renters bill if they skip,if their equipment fails you pay.Someone is making a bundle and it stinks to high heaven.If people of this province dont wake up to the fact that their being screwed by buzz words and bs we are going to lose the most important thing this province has, cheap clean energy.Koolaid drinkers need not reply.

Oddly Jeff;

As I now (after 20 years) own my apartment and so no, it is not included in my rent, never has been and my hydro has dropped over the years. At one point and not so long ago, I was pretty close to $60/month, now $40 during winter - $25 for summer.

My building is almost 30 years old- no 'green' features.

So, a building that is new with all the 'green' bells and whistles should be running at a lesser energy consumption than mine...

Or again, so we have been led to believe.

@Max

You are paying for water somehow. If you own your apartment, check the annual budget of your strata association, as they will be paying it if you aren't paying it directly.

You continue to claim that your older building is more energy efficient than a newer building, without looking at the total energy picture. I don't suppose you have air conditioning in your building, as the newer ones do? My Hydro bill can be double in August what it is in the coldest month of the year. You mentioned the one 'net zero' building, but fail to consider that the heat for that building is a recovery system connected to the freezers of the grocery store. The grocery store that isn't running yet. Hence the requirement for make-up heat.

A few facts would help to bring some balance to your rhetoric.

Jeff L
Out of curiosity, is air conditioning considered "Green"?

George:

Why would it be green or otherwise?

Personally, I don't think air conditioning in and of itself is has a symbolic colour. You can compare the SEER ratings, and annual energy consumption figures of different technologies. Certainly a heat pump can be efficient, and can provide air conditioning.

My comment was that if the new Village owners don't realize that they are running air conditioners and only compare their electric bills to electric bills in 30 year old apartments, as Max was doing, then turning off the air conditioners may help them out. Air conditioners don't have to be used if people don't want to use them.

Sorry if i wasn't clear enough for you Jeff L...my point is that in a "Green " building it strikes me as odd that it is air conditioned..

Pls.note my previous comment was meant as sarcasm...ha ha get it... we all realize that air conditioning doesn't have a color..well I thought we all understood ...but I guess not.

Seriously Jeff, you need to go outside and get some vitamin D today..enjoy the sun..

I recognized your baiting and just refused to play. Your intent was pretty obvious, lol

But why can't a green building have air conditioning? That would be like saying that an economy car can't have air conditioning. Or that a green building shouldn't have a range, since anyone buying one should be on a raw food diet.

Just heading out to do another full circuit of False Creek now before the sun sets. Did one this morning, and walked through the Village as well. How about you?

Jeff L..

Nobody baited you,I made a joke.

That being said the first time you responded you took the so called bait.

The second time you responded you swallowed,hook, line and sinker..

You realize that putting comments out as bait is trolling, don't you? You seem to be proud of it.

For my part, I was quite prepared to comment on the ridiculous notion that green buildings can't have air conditioning once you were flagged as a troll.

Carry on.

Jeff L
you appear to be new to this forum as I have previously pointed out.

I think your comments are way out of line. Those that have been dwelling here for a long time know my intentions..and my humor.

If there is a troll my friend, I suggest you look into a mirror..

Jeff L,if your calling George a troll your dead wrong,I have always considered George to be a realist with a sense of ha ha .Its you that I find intolerant and unable to admit when things dont work.Its funny how the very people we were trying to help left their homes to move to this experiment now find themselves in a place that they have to leave now, leave their new homes because of the hydro bills. Your inability to admit that mistakes were made borders on religion.Not everything works and if you cant admit that we will never improve the living conditions of the needy who unlike yourself every dollar counts.

@gman:

George himself made the reference to trolling.

In George's own words: "the first time you responded you took the so called bait.

The second time you responded you swallowed, hook, line and sinker"

It was obvious what he was doing, I just waited for him to confirm it himself. Which he did. His frequent defence is to call everything a joke, while he maintains he isn't trolling.

As to your other point, I am absolutely sure that mistakes were made. I never said that no mistakes were made, I just got tired of people drawing false conclusions based on incomplete data and erroneous assumptions. Max thought that the apartments had electric heating. Bill hadn't considered the district heating aspect. Nobody was considering that the heat recovery system didn't have much to recover until other tenants were in place. Some were quick to blame LEEDS standards, and whoever decided that the Village would be built to a LEEDS Gold standard, something that has previously been clarified in great detail. Then we got the whole conspiracy angle. All of this lowers the debate which should be about transparency of the Olympic Village project, which was the title of the blog post.

So yes, I am sure mistakes were made. If we could get some of this hyperbole out of the way we could talk about that, and transparency.


oh Jeff..
please note the words "so called bait" Give it a rest Jeff.

Out of curiosity Jeff did you work at the Village, and are you an engineer..

George, just wondering if you are the same George currently posting about shoes, porcupines, bullies, and Falun Gong over at FAB's State of Vancouver?

No George, I have never worked at the Village, or for the CoV for that matter. Have you? Yes to the engineer question. Want to talk about power measurement? Heat recovery? How about transparency of the Village project?

ok Jeff

I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt so I went further back in the thread...it appears you forgot that you originally made this statement..

"I recognized your baiting and just refused to play. Your intent was pretty obvious, lol"


perhaps you are reading into things that aren't there Jeff..it appears that you brought up the troll thing..funny that!

and for the record Jeff...economy car & air conditioning is an oxymoron..;-)

I actually worked at the Village..

I gather that work was not as an engineer.

why would you gather that?

"and for the record...economy car & air conditioning is an oxymoron"

No it isn't, which is why I used the example. I was pretty sure that was where you were going with your original green air conditioning question. Economy car and inefficient is an oxymoron. Air conditioners can be efficient or inefficient. As can systems. Air conditioners in cars allow the windows to be kept rolled up, reducing aerodynamic drag and improving fuel economy.

We really should get back to the whole transparency topic.

my friend, with that attitude nobody wants to bother having a conversation with you...

C'mon George, tell us what you did when you worked at the Olympic Village.

And whether you have technical training, engineering or otherwise.

And if you are the same George as is posting about shoes, porcupines, bullies and Falon Gong on FAB's blog at the moment.

Since we don't have real names, I think it helps to know who we are talking to.

my friend, with that attitude nobody wants to bother having a conversation with you...

@ Jeff L.

Your "Bill hadn't considered the district heating aspect." is quite right. District heating was not relevant to the point I made above, which was:

"My hydro bill for my condo is my hydro bill with no markup. When I had a house the hydro bill was the hydro bill - with no markup, and the gas bill was the gas bill - with no markup."

As you can see Jeff, I was speaking of the Enerpro markup, ie: overhead, not 'district energy'. And essentially I was questioning why Enerpro is needed here at =/-$12.50 a pop. Kind of negates all the good of all the green energy savings in the OV doesn't it?

I wasn't privy to the design decisions, but one would also assume that the 'district energy' system would also be less expensive. If not it shouldn't have been done.

As an aside, I made a comment a while back here that seems to have gone missing. The comment was in response to A/C being expensive. My suggestion was that the best way to save A/C $s is to turn it off and open the window.

With all the niffty automated shading devices and low 'e' glass, etc. what on earth do you need A/C for in Van? We did an analysis once when designing a building in Port Alberni and found that A/C is only necessary 7 days a year here. So we went with a regular air handling unit.

of course it is jeff, but you asking for any shred of evidence for anything he says is just you being a bully don't ya know?

the issue of transparency in this case is kinda beside the point, it was a dumb idea for the city to act as a developer however he numbers shake out. at the very least the best we can hope for is a lesson learned.

@Bill McC
Exactly my point about the air conditioning...
LOL nice to know some people get it!!

"I just got tired of people drawing false conclusions based on incomplete data and erroneous assumptions." What assumptions are you talking about,if you think your going to make up these gains by tapping into a grocery store you truly have lost your grip on reality.Can you not admit that this political experiment failed and that we should move on to things that really work or have you drank the koolaid and are incapable of rational thought.

ha ha the reinforcements are here..

I'd be happy to be wrong George...

actually boohoo I think you're right the city should never have gotten involved..

it is becoming a monster that our kids will be still be feeding when their kids have kids..

@Bill M:

Thanks for the post.

You had also commented that you had two bills, and that was it. My comment on the district heating was that there will be multiple bills, and Enerpro entered (as far as I can make out) as an aggregator of invoices. If people are confused getting two bills (Enerpro and Hydro) imagine how they will feel if Enerpro is cancelled, and they get four or more bills.

There has been confusion expressed about why there were Hydro (elec) bills and also Enerpro bills, and if that was double billing. Even the building management company didn't seem to understand it. And the confusion has been increased by Max bringing her electric heat examples into it. We shouldn't be comparing gas bills at all, we should be comparing total energy bills (elec, district heat, make-up gas, hot water). Electric bills should be net of any solar panel generation.

As to the markup point that you made, I commented below that I had a fixed charge (for delivery) on my gas bill (I haven't had a gas bill since 2009, but I have a copy). It was around $12, and was in addition to the consumption charges. I asked in my post below whether the Village units are charged that fixed gas charge in addition to the consumption, but haven't heard back here yet. I think it would depend on whether the gas is treated as a single connection with Enerpro meters after that, or if it is one connection per unit.

I don't agree that the Enerpro negates all the energy savings, because I haven't seen the numbers. It may do so. But without data, there are a lot of conclusions being thrown around here by several posters. I would like to see all the heat recovery units working as they are designed to, and the solar panels working where they are installed. Then I would like to see the net energy savings or burden. Without the heat recovery in place from the grocery store refrigeration, without the sewer heat recovery, without the heat shared from neighbouring units which are in many cases empty at the moment, and with the district heating system likely operating at partial capacity, etc, it seems to be a bit early to be forming conclusions.

When a reasonable occupancy is achieved, I think an energy audit should be done, and should be publicized. The audit is important. But to draw conclusions now is premature, unless testing of individual systems has shown that they can not achieve design objectives.

There are additional wrinkles in the district energy system costing, such as any tax credits, and how the overhead for building the system is being recovered. It seems that some neighbourhood purchasers are surprised to learn they are paying for their district heating system over and above their condo cost.

I fully agree that AC is expensive to operate, and for many owners it will be unnecessary. That was my point about comparing electric bills for 30 year old apartments with these units. A like for like comparison of energy costs would probably mean turning off the AC, and given the comments from some new residents in the newspapers (they couldn't understand how to control their own units) it is quite possible that AC units are running unnecessarily. One quote was from a new resident who said, effectively, that his power bill had doubled when he moved in, and it wasn't even winter yet. If the AC is running, that fits quite well. August is double April for electricity consumption, in my case.

@George:

"Exactly my point about the air conditioning..."

You were 3 days late to that discussion point being raised. Read the posts, it was brought up on Oct 13 and you chimed in Oct 16. Nice to know you agree though.

@gman:

"What assumptions are you talking about,if you think your going to make up these gains by tapping into a grocery store you truly have lost your grip on reality. Can you not admit that this political experiment failed and that we should move on to things that really work or have you drank the koolaid and are incapable of rational thought"

Just scanning through the posts, how about false and/or unproven assumptions like these:
1) High energy costs are due to LEEDS design
2) High energy costs are due to lousy construction and shoddy workmanship.
3) That the total energy consumption is actually high compared to the design spec
4) That the total energy consumption is actually high compared to similar units in Vancouver outside the Village
5) That the energy metering is working correctly and is understood by residents (who are the source of the complaints of high energy usage)
6) That all heat recovery sources (grocery store refrigeration, sewage heat recovery) are functioning as per design
7) That solar panels are functioning as per design
8) That there is electric heat in the units like Max has
9) That there is electric water heat in the units like Max has
10) That people who have never operated heat pumps, and energy management systems, should be expected to know how to simply by virtue of having moved in
11) That having separate companies come around at different times and read four meters per apartment would be cheaper than one company coming around and reading four meters.
12) That air conditioners, if installed in new units, and not installed in older apartments, run without consuming power
13) That other buildings outside the Village that don't meter all utilities to the apartment level somehow get those utilities for free, and don't cover them through unit assessments or strata fees.
14) That the whole village is made up of net-zero buildings
15) That the inclusion of air conditioning makes buildings high energy consumers
16) That the use of a district heating system reduces efficiency

So no, to answer your question, I cannot conclude that the energy efficient objectives of the Village have been proven to be a failure. Maybe they are, but certainly not based on the evidence (or lack of) and wild claims made so far. But I would like to know. I like decisions based on information, not on anonymous hate rants of people trying to make it into a political issue.

Thanks for your clearly stated arguments Jeff. Another part of my point that I've been trying to get at is that, taking the example of the single family house, you get 2 energy bills and recently your water bill is rolled into your tax bill. That's manageable and comprehensible.

Over the years, as an architect I've learned to cut out the redundant. It's equally important financially as well as aesthetically. And, it isn't usually a lot of help in engineering solutions either. IMO the whole billing arrangements for the OV need to be reviewed and probably revamped so you end up with an arrangement not to far from the above single family model. I suspect doing so might mean the demise of Enerpro, however.

Am I saying this for political reasons? Maybe, but one of the reasons I'm in politics is because I want to make green things like energy conserving systems work.

I was doing energy conservation design starting in 1977, long before terms like 'green' and LEEDs were invented. Among other projects I designed the Net Loft Building Solar Demonstration Project on Granville Island and my firm was awarded an Honourable mention Award for the Low Energy Building Design Awards (LEBDA) a national design competition sponsored by the Department of Mines, Resources and Energy in 1981. The jury docked us points because they didn't think our proposed use of an artesian well as a heat source was cost effective on a one off project. Unfortunately we were not given an opportunity to rebut. That was not all that different than the OVs district energy system which requires a number of buildings to become cost effective. But another Vancouver firm also got 1st prize for the other building (there were 2 parallel competitions), so perhaps 'politics' played a role there as well.

@Bill McC

Your answer to Jeff is exactly why I think you'd make a great contribution to the city as a council member..

@Jeff L I do admire the effort you put into the debate, I must admit you did impress me with your great detail..

just don't forget to use your humor button from time to time..;-)

and seriously Jeff...can't we just open that window? LOL..(this is a joke)

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