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Taxpayers sink millions more into Olympic Village

VANCOUVER - Almost $21.9 million more is needed to keep the $1.1 billion Southeast False Creek Olympic Village on schedule for its Nov. 1 handover to VANOC.

Vancouver city council is expected to rubber-stamp a staff request for funds Thursday, but there may be more surprises this summer and fall.

"Because of the rigid schedule, there remains a risk of unanticipated work and construction schedule challenges, which could still result in additional costs, delay claims and/or acceleration requirements as the completion deadline for this complex project approaches over the next several months," according to project manager Bill Aujla's report.

The $21.895 million includes $15 million more for the 252 affordable housing units, $5.5 million for the 45,500 square foot civic centre, daycare and restaurant facility and $1.3 million for staffing the project office.

"When you lose your top people (like project manager Jody Andrews and deputy city manager James Ridge), it costs you dollars in many different ways," said NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton. "Entirely the responsibility of this council."

Mayor Gregor Robertson led Vision Vancouver to a majority in last fall's election after the $100 million bailout for developer Millennium leaked from a secret council meeting.

The city bought out lender Fortress Credit Corporation for $319.5 million in February. On May 7, it announced a $550 million loan from a TD Bank-led syndicate to finish the project.

"The critical issue for us is will we get the units in time to convert them for Olympic use, before the athletes arrive," said deputy VANOC CEO Dave Cobb. "The updates we get regularly are getting more and more optimistic. and we're very confident we'll take over those units when we need them."

On Jan. 30, B.C. auditor general John Doyle declined NDP leader Carole James' request to investigate village financing.

Montreal's $1.5 billion Olympic debt was finally retired in 2006 with cigarette tax revenue.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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