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Olympics village manager gets a new gig in Abu Dhabi

July 20th, 2009 · 23 Comments

Jody Andrews, a former favourite at city hall who resigned from his job as Southeast False Creek project manager only a couple of months after Vision Vancouver took over at 12th and Cambie, has landed a new job in Abu Dhabi.

According to one of my sources, “he will basically be charge of implementation of all the big projects related to planning in Abu Dhabi as he is now working for the Urban Planning Council. His first and current assignment is to be responsible for implementation of the new national Capatal District, which is to be implemented in record time.”

That all ought to make the Olympic village project feel like peanuts and perhaps take the sting out of how things ended here. For those who don’t recall, Andrews resigned shortly after the VV crew came and put city manager Penny Ballem in charge. Although he never said anything publicly, rumour had it that he was unhappy about being sidelined.

His decision to leave hit a lot of people at city hall negatively — although Olympic critics blamed him for having let the village get to the financial mess it did, others saw him as an example of the kind of bright, energetic, creative young manager that the hall desperately needed NOT to lose.

I’d been hearing for quite a while that Jody was considering either Abu Dhabi or project management at the new TimberWest development on Vancouver Island. Looks like he picked the former. At least he won’t feel lonely there, with all the Vancouver city hall types either working or visiting there these days.


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  • Not Running for Mayor

    Jody still has Vancouver in his heart and don’t be surprised if we see his return as well as a few others in the planning dept in the years to come.
    I get a kick out of what wasn’t good enough for us is good enough for those that can have anything they desire.

  • Darcy McGee

    …or those who don’t know any better?

  • gmgw

    Nicely put, Darcy.

    Wasn’t it to Abu Dhabi that Larry Beasley went to seek his fortune after (thankfully) leaving City Hall? Is this coincidence, is it mentoring, or is it merely a case of couple of fleas having being put into a couple of carefully-selected ears?
    gmgw

  • Kinda/sorta off-topic, but given Frances’ recent interest in renewed CoV/Provincial intergovernmental relations thought some folks here might find the following ‘potentially relevant’….

    Another former CoV manager-type turned up on an most interesting provincial ‘list’ this morning.

    .

  • Tim Latanville

    I’m sure that Jody is a great person, he’s always seemed very nice. But wasn’t he primarily responsible for screwing up the Olympic Village financing and construction schedule? It always seemed like he was the lead on sticking his head in the sand on how bad it actually was.

  • Mary

    our loss, Abu Dhabi’s enourmous gain of one of the most ethical, intelligent, capable public servants around.

  • Mary you shock me.

    Madame how can a . . . “most ethical, intelligent, capable public servants” possibly be so bereft of integrity and environmental ethics to seriously consider flogging his up-time between that brutal and inhumane slave labour circus the UAE and the equally integrity-bereft Timber West’s’ unethical desecration of the Jordan River area to dump more sprawl on an already sprawl saturated south end of the island.

    Oh boy oh boy you have just confirmed my worst fears and suspicions concerning the environmental ethics of those time serving paper pushers at the hall . . .

    Shame on you Mary dearest . .

  • PS Is this another Adair-like “scoop”?

    Really Frances, I know we are in the dog days of summer but surely silence is preferable to trivia . . .

  • Alex

    Urbanismo:

    You would not be so shocked by Mary’s comments if you had any direct professional interactions with Jody. Let’s take a look at your resume so that we can view the baseline upon which you judge others!

  • spartikus

    Urbanismo has a point. Migrant workers in Abu Dhabi endure near slavery.

  • Rebecca

    What a fantastic opportunity for Jody! I heard via via that his budget is over $20 billion!! All I’d like to say is ‘HAHA’ to the folks on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

  • Let’s put some perspective on this Jody thing.

    He is one of many: building professionals, contractors and sub-contractor’s reps and BI’s.

    In less pretentious times he would be called a clerk of works. So no big deal there except such organisms seem to attract out-of-proportion interest and money. So be it.

    But there is another dimension: Timber West.

    It hasn’t been in the news lately. TW has about three cutting licenses, licenses NOT TITLE, on the Island: mid to south.

    All of a sudden TW has realized it can make big bucks by flogging the land off as sprawl: a genre of which this island needs less.

    And the big intriguing question is how does a license all of a sudden transmogrify into title? I fear fourth estate et. al. is far more interested in gossip than to go after this . . . but hey . . .

    TW was news about a year ago and no one really thought, given current market, it was going anywhere.

    So here we are with a mid-level construction drone choosing between the unnecessary desecration of the environment and bigger bucks in an off shore twilight zone.

    Is this another Campbell scam too far?

  • Frothingham

    Mary loves Jody. Nothing wrong with that. It’s good to hear of former CoV staff doing well in Abu Dhabi…. abba-yabba-doo !

  • Frothingham

    Of more importance are these former CoV staffers: People of Interest in the RailGate scandal engulfing the premiers office these days: Dobell, Colins, Clark ( she wanted to sit on campbell’s old seat), et al . Man of man i sure hope they can recover those old emails 😉 BC Politics has reached a new high of Zaniness! Pass the bud, bc bud that is.

  • David

    Can we really brag about how good our city planners are when we look at the desperate downtown east side and our homelessness crisis in general? Really? This is about life and planning and our city.

    We have NOT got it right. Our plans and planners have not served all. Sure downtown is pretty and they did a great job on placing the mountains, ocean and isthmus…

    Happy that Vancouver planners are getting global experience too bad it is not somewhere less Disney and more relevant.

  • Apologies for going way off topic, but since this getting to be the bottom of an almost dead thread …..

    Was I just imagining things, or did Bill Good really have own little creme de la creme moment this morning when he berated Ms.Bula about the ridiculous notion of the possibility of homeless shelters in….Gasp!….. Vancouver’s ‘upper middle class neighbourhoods’?

    .

  • David, “can we really brag about how good our city planners are?”

    NO . . .

    Unfortunately David DTES is the not the only part of town were VPD falls short.

    The Vancouver Planning department does no live up to its own expectations and certainly to ours. It has, in recent past, been far too cozy with local dysfunctional development organizations: among other defaults.

    In my time as a professional and an activist I have observed a department with priorities contrary to what a city should expect. Publicly, public participation has gradually been nudged from a public to be heard to a public who is essentially there to be informed.

    Professionally, my copyright has been abused by the planning department. As a citizen I have been pandered to, bullied, shouted down and ignored.

    As for the results of over half a century of this expensive civic planning component what is there to show? Nothing a sentient, responsible person would expect!

    Essentially the city of Vancouver measures as the willful desecration of a magnificent setting.

    Bright, active students, who, in their community and student work, are idealistically in favour of moderate development and humane environmental requirements have their idealism squelched once on board.

    Of course threatened vested interests bring out their shop worn repetitive mantras: “the views”, “the water” “sustainable” “world class” and on and on and on!

    There is, sin embargo, much more to it than that!

    Some part of the planning process is paperwork and the approval process . . . but . . . it need not be overwhelming . . . yet . . .

    essentially the major job of the planning department is to mediate and integrate, interconnections and relationships between buildings and public urban spaces.

    This is not rocket science but it is yet to be a part of the current planning agendas . . . so much the pity . . .

  • T W

    I am amazed at some of the comments. What we seem to forget that there is a world of difference between a city planner as a visionary and the world of development control and planning as a bureaucratic exercise.

    No wonder the Vancouver Planning Department suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. They are effective at development control (which has a political dimension) but have a spotty record as planners in the traditional European sense.

    My view.

  • Just Plain Sad

    The toxicity of some of these comments is probably part of the reason some of the most talented professionals who’ve ever worked for City Hall have left and are leaving. Its just plain said to see good people set-up to take the fall for God-knows-what political agenda. But a few of the comments here are just too whacky to leave unanswered.

    He single-handedly screwed up the financing? Read the Council minutes. This Council acted on provisions negotiated by Mr. Andrews and his team that allowed Council to respond to a global financial crisis and keep the project moving forward. I heard he gave those New York financiers a run for their money, and Ms. Ballem and this Council finished them off using the terms he negotiated. I don’t know the new interest rate for the City financing, but you can bet it’s rock bottom. Ms. Ballem is tough, but she must have had a pretty good negotiating position to start with.

    Some of you don’t seem to know that the lands were purchased and the development plan and financing strategies were set in place long before they hired Mr. Andrews. He was the implementer of Council’s directions, a Project Manager tasked with building an incredibly complex and time-constrained project, not a God who had powers to Command Council and Direct the Global Financial Markets. I can’t even imagine the hell of trying to build a project like that from within local government.

    And he screwed up the construction schedule? The first phase of South East False Creek was fast-tracked and developed in record time while setting global sustainability benchmarks. I also heard it is on schedule to be used as the Olympic Village in 2010; maybe others know different??

    And, unless some of you have crystal balls in the real estate market, it hasn’t lost a penny, yet. But if you’re really talking about the way earlier Councils structured the project, you’re probably going to be right. Only two thirds of the project is marketable; the other one-third is Council-mandated non-profit housing. How many private sector managers could turn a profit with one-third of their product non-revenue making? In fact, how many private sector developers actually shut down their 100% profit-producing projects in response to the global crisis? I’m thinking of the gaping hole on Georgia Street which was supposed to be the Ritz Carlton as one of many examples. I’m guessing delaying the Olympics was not an option for Mr. Andrews.

    And speculation and side-tracking rants on what career options Frances thinks Mr. Andrews may have considered is not very fair and has really drawn the value of this thread down. Stick to the facts and these public discourses will be that much the better for them. Whatever his choices were, and I’m sure they were many, I wish Mr. Andrews well in Abu Dhabi. From what I hear the recruitment for those top positions is international, from all sectors, private and public. Maybe some of the things that need improvement over there are some of things he’ll be working on changing. Maybe the people over there realize that. But don’t count on him coming back. I wouldn’t.

  • I spoke to Andrews at a public information forum re the Olympic Village in 2006, and told him about almost identical challenges Sydney Australia had with one of their big Olympic projects – Homebush Bay.

    Homebush was also built on contaminated soil, much like Vancouver’s Olympic Athletes’ Village. During construction in Sydney local residents experienced a long list of health problems.

    When I asked Andrews if he knew about Homebush Bay, he looked puzzled and said, “No. Never heard of it.”

    I thought, how is it possible he doesn’t know about a Sydney Olympic building site that almost mirrors Vancouver’s? When I asked him again he smiled and once more said no. I concluded he was either inept or deceptive.

    If you’re interested in the details the link below will take you to my blog and an excerpt from my book, Leverage Olympic Momentum – http://www.olyblog.com/f/06/HiddenCostsF06192006.shtml#BADSOIL

  • Just Plain Sad

    Mr. Cardinal, something sounds a bit fishy about your post. If you talked to Mr. Andrews early in his job in 2006, your reference sounds rather dated, and your characterizations rather … suspicious. If you followed the project after that meeting (the Vancouver project, not the Homebush one), you would know that all the contaminated soil in the olympic village was removed and replaced with clean river sand from the nearby Fraser River. I recall recent stories in the press about the first herring run in recorded history coming out of the new olympic village shoreline, and bald eagles coming back to the new habitat island.

    Your character sniping really detracts from the things of value you have to say. Good stuff in your link by the way – more people should read about the Homebush story. Lets try to elevate these posts a bit – your credibility will go up and people will learn more.

  • Mr. Sad, glad to see you read my post,and thanks for the compliment. You’re right, something is fishy, but the smell isn’t coming from my side of the boat.

    My point is that when you take on a project of this magnitude you should know the collective history of everyone involved, including the IOC.

    Not to know is irresponsible.

    I followed the project closer than most, in fact I was in attendance the night one of the architects complained during a public meeting that his project was not oriented optimally on the site in order to take full advantage of the environmental features he painstakingly deigned into the project. Features I might add boasted about and initially used to promote the project.

    If you want details ask Trevor Boddy, a local architectural and city planning writer. He was there too taking more extensive notes than I.

    It will be interesting to see how they market the Village, and if they use the originally planned environmental projections, or modify the LEEDS Platinum certification sales pitch to reflect a third place bronze value.

    According to one of the architects, orienting the buildings off his precisely planned western axis seriously impacts the heating and cooling characteristics and as a result makes the building much less efficient than planned.

    I hope owners won’t be paying for more than they think they are getting, or False Creek might take on a whole new meaning.

  • oh PLEASE

    I agree whole heartedly with Just Plain Sad. Jody Andrews put in over 15 years of his career to the City of Vancouver. He was more committed to making the city one of the greatest on the planet. That is more than most of you complainers have or will ever do. If you don’t know the real story…SHUT UP! Those of us that know what really went on around Jody’s decision to leave the city are saddened by how the sickness of nasty politics can push some of the most intelligent and committed leaders out to seek a life far far away for awhile. This was a HUGE LOSS to the city of Vancouver. I hope Jody is happy oversees. I also hope that he is being treated well. He is a good man with tremendous talent.