Monday, January 19, 2009

Vancouver's Role in Olympic Village


financial statements are presented to council and released to the public. As audited by the firm of KPMG, they include a note disclosing the full, sobering extent of the city's exposure on the $1-billion Olympic village project.

The note addresses the relationship between three parties: Vancouver city, as owner of the land on which the village would be built and later developed for market housing. Millennium, as developer of the project. Fortress, as lender.

But as the note went on to explain, the boundaries among those three players had become blurred, with the city assuming the responsibilities of both builder and backer, and all that entailed.


Transparency. Accountability. That's what is needed in all future government publication.

It is clear that no one saw this clearly. Even KPMG in its wisdom used the word "blurred" when in fact, it is very clear that when Vancouver took on the responsibility of completing the project, supplying the finance when necessary, and delivering it on time, Vancouver is ultimately the sole developer, project manager of the Olympic Village. Everyone else was merely in it for the money as hired guns. They are not responsible nor accountable. There were no stipulated penalties for non-performance or failure.

In other words, there was no accountability, and the reports were shrouded in a cloud of opaque jargons that made it impossible for any intelligent citizen to understand it without asking numerous questions which would be deflected and spun to make the questioner looking stupid and ignorant. That's how this mess was created, when the people in charge did not ask questions, or bullied into fearful of sounding stupid.

Transparency. Accountability. Governments must be made simple and clear, even to a high school student.

Vancouver Sun: Vaughn Palmer: City's Exposure

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