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Vancouver releases secret Olympic Village documents

VANCOUVER - Confidential Vancouver city council documents detailing how the Southeast False Creek Olympic Village slipped into a financial crisis were released Friday.

Some of the documents were previously leaked to media outlets, including minutes of an Oct. 14, 2008 closed-door meeting where the NPA-majority council approved a $100 million emergency loan to developer Millennium so that construction could continue.

The scandal enabled Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson to win the mayoralty and his party to gain a majority on council.

Millennium was $60 million to $100 million over budget with all 18 buildings needing completion before November 2009. Lender Fortress Credit Corporation stopped advancing funds amid the global economic crisis.

The city owned 100 per cent of the land and infrastructure and four of the 18 buildings, including 22 per cent of residential units and 28 per cent of commercial space at the community centre.

Other documents chart how the city agreed to be responsible for the $1.1 billion project that was supposed to be privately financed.

May 1, 2007 minutes show council siphoned $5.1 million from the $30 million affordable housing fund provided by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic committee to buy 125 W. 1st Avenue from Millennium.

On May 11, 2007, council learned that Millennium could not secure financing and needed a $100 million bridge loan from Quest Capital Corporation. Council agreed then to take over Millennium's obligations if the company defaulted.

"The risks to the City of acting on the recommendation in this report are insignificant compared to the responsibility the City would assume if it had to step in and complete the project," wrote treasury director Ian Smith.

On June 26, 2007, council agreed to a three-way deal with Millennium and Fortress for a $683 million loan. Fortress received a guarantee that the city would complete the project if Millennium was unable to do so.

The city got deeper into paying for the project on Dec. 13, 2007 when it approved $95 million in financing for the 250 affordable housing units in three buildings.

Vancouver bought out Fortress in February for $319.5 million. A consortium of banks led by TD agreed to a $550 million loan in April. Nov. 1 is the deadline for handover to VANOC so it can prepare the site to be home of Olympic athletes for the Feb. 12-28, 2010 Games.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.


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