Fact: To lose money, bet on a loser

Photo credit Eyesplash Mikul

I spent most of the evening writing a different post with all sorts of goodies about what happened at the Olympic Village meeting at City Hall.  Forget all that, I’ll post it later because Gary Mason’s dropped a cluster bomb.

Citing an unnamed source, Mason reports that city council has known for years that things have been not so good with the Olympic Village.  In 2007, city staff confirmed that the developer, Millennium, was in “anticipatory default” — meaning the company wasn’t expected to live up to its commitments.  But rather than get out of the deal and steer clear of trouble, the city stayed in and upped the ante with a loan guarantee and a completion guarantee.  Why?  Read it and weep:

According to a source, council decided to press ahead with Millennium as developer despite revelations it was in anticipatory default, because halting the project at that point and finding another firm to take over would imperil deadline obligations the city had with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games.

[The Globe and Mail, “Minutes of 2007 meeting show council knew athletes village was already in trouble,” January 13, 2009]

Mason’s column also sheds light on the “resignation” of Estelle Lo, the city’s former CFO.   Mason says Ms. Lo “did not want to resign but was forced to by [then-city manager Judy Rogers], who found the CFO’s constant questioning of the village financing a drag on the process.”

It’s not just Vancouver, it’s Gary Mason’s Vancouver.

Photo credit: Eyesplash Mikul

17 Responses to “Fact: To lose money, bet on a loser”

  1. anon Says:

    Hey… can we sell the Olympics to some other city in some other country, at a fire sale price?

    Bet some of the other cities we beat out for it would LOVE to have ’em.

    We might even be able to recoup some of our losses by selling now and quickly.

    Hey… let’s try eBay!!

  2. doug r Says:

    I think Salt Lake City might have a few bucks left over. Maybe they can dig that loonie out of cent(er) ice?

  3. greg Says:

    condohype –

    you realize Vanoc is going to jump all over your unauthorzed display of the O rings, right?

  4. The Urban Dweller Says:

    Ah Gary Mason, you continue amuse er…I mean amaze us.

  5. jesse Says:

    The use of the Olympic rings in satire is fair use. SFA VANOC can do about it.

  6. foo Says:

    It’s amazing how a bunch of reporters suddenly have extensive access to all kinds of interesting info. Where were these leakers when it would have done some good, back in 2007? Talk about rats. And sinking ships.

  7. RossK Says:

    Meanwhile, in its editorial today, the VSun says….

    “”As far as we know, the developer is still solvent and contractually obliged to deliver the project on its own…..”

    Are they serious?

    Or are they just joking?

    Or, is it possible that the good folks who usually strap together the seven extra pounds were at such loose ends that they got to take over the editorial office for the day?


  8. islander Says:

    Maybe I’m naive, but can’t we just cancel the whole Olympics? What’s been spent has been spent. We can’t get that back. But we can still save on security costs and every other bill that will only be incurred between today and 2010. Right? Who’s with me?

  9. RossK Says:



    Did you notice the following line that was slipped into the Globe Boondoggle piece today that was not written by Mr. Mason?
    “Gaining extra borrowing powers would give the city a chance to seek alternative funding at a better rate than the 11-per-cent interest Fortress is charging on the $317-million it has advanced to date, and thus reduce financing costs…..”


    I was aghast when M. Cernetig suggested ‘about eight’ last week.

    Who really did this deal?

    Nigel Tufnel?


  10. RossK Says:

    Apologies, here’s the real link to the Mickleburgh piece.

  11. jojuchst Says:

    Just what we all expected except for the politicians: Vancouver Rating May Be Cut by S&P on Olympic Costs

  12. jesse Says:

    Wow. The total costs are drifting even higher if the credit rating takes a hit. I wonder if the impact of this, should it happen, will show up in the project’s total cost. An indirect, yet very real, cost.

  13. K-Money Says:

    I believe Gordon will bail out the city. At first we don’t think that will happen but that little voice in our heads says he will. He says it’s the city responsibility but he’s just waiting to see what the city can bribe, sorry I mean offer him in return.

    If you are good at something why do it for free.

  14. Merridith Says:

    Hot off the press…….. not only are we on the hook for the millions in losses associated with the Olympic Village, but all the rest of our municipal debt is about to cost more too.

    Standard & Poor has announced that is going to take a careful look at Vancouver’s overall debt status with an eye to cutting our credit rating.

    Wow! Now we get to pay even more for everything!


  15. VancityAllie Says:

    It would’ve been nice to see this information presented before, Mr. Mason.

  16. VancityAllie Says:

    P.S. Long ago I used to write letters to Gary Mason when he was writing sports stories on the Canucks. I even used to send him little drawings I made of Gino Odjick when I was 14. Oh, how far we’ve come.

  17. doug r Says:

    .240 Gordy will come up with the cash before the election-is it going to be this May already? Where it’s going to come from won’t pop up until after May, of course.

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