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Mayors defend Olympic Village

November 11th, 2008 · 15 Comments

The media circus continues;

Ex-mayors Philip Owen and Larry Campbell are going to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. to defend the current Olympic village loan.

And this news release just came out from Mayor Sam Sullivan’s office.

Open Letter from Mayor Sam Sullivan

Southeast False Creek planning a decade in the making – Mayors Owen, Campbell & Sullivan have helped see this historic project through

As most Vancouverites know, I am not seeking re-election. And while I do not have a direct political stake in the outcome of Saturday’s election for the first time in 15 years, I do feel compelled to formally address recent reports about the construction of the Athletes Village at Southeast False Creek.

As Mayor, it is my duty to reinforce a number of facts.  First, the Olympic Village will be delivered on time next year.  Second, our city staff has been acting in the best interests of taxpayers in managing this complex project through turbulent economic times.  Third, at all times over the past 14 years, City Councils have been appropriately consulted and have endorsed our staff in their planning and management of this project.

The Southeast False Creek development consists of 50 acres of city-owned land in one of the most desirable waterfront real estate locations in North America.  Half the site is designated for public parks, seawall and a state of the art community centre that is accessible to all.  A significant number of the housing units have been sold – and the ones remaining are in prime waterfront locations. Heritage buildings are being restored – as is the natural environment for marine life.  And, more than 20% of the units have been designated for social housing.

Because of the global economic downturn, capital is tight and businesses around the world are struggling. As a result, the City of Vancouver has been engaged in sensitive real estate and business discussions with project stakeholders to ensure we successfully complete this project on time.

City Councillors and staff are legally bound to keep all property transactions confidential.  That is the law.  Taxpayers are not well served by politicizing these sensitive discussions or conducting negotiations by headline.  As Mayor, you have my word that the moment our legal team and negotiators signal that this information can legally be released, it will be without any delay.

Senior City Staff working on this project include City Manager Judy Rogers, Deputy City Manager, Jody Andrews and the City of Vancouver’s Director of Business Planning, Ken Bayne.  As someone who has served the City of Vancouver as a Councillor for 12 years and Mayor for three years, I can say that I have the utmost confidence in this team. With the assistance of some of Canada’s leading legal-finance advisors Stikeman Elliott and Farris-Vaughn, staff has been managing this project in the best interests of taxpayers on behalf of successive City Councils. Southeast False Creek planning started in 1994 under Mayor Philip Owen, continued under Mayor Larry Campbell and during my term as Mayor.

One of the first actions of our Council in 2005 was to deliver more financial discipline and taxpayer protection to the project.  Councils have approved development and financial plans at every stage.  They are posted at

When the Olympic Village at Southeast False Creek is completed, it will set the standard for green development and urban sustainability.  In the meantime, our city staff will continue to act in the best interest of taxpayers and ensure City Council is properly consulted.

As we approach the finish line for this project, our staff has laid out a plan to ensure its orderly completion.  That plan has been supported by all Councillors representing all the major municipal parties in the current election.  I am confident that the next Mayor and Council will be well served by this approach in the months ahead. 

Around this time next year they will be proud to show off this global model of excellence in urban planning and green living to the world.

Categories: 2008 Vancouver Civic Election