The Ottawa Citizen reports the government of British Columbia (B.C.) gave the City of Vancouver emergency borrowing powers Saturday to negotiate at least $458 million to ensure the Athletes Village for the Vancouver 2010 Games is built in time.
According to the Citizen the legislature dealt with the emergency bill overnight to allow the city’s continuing bailout of the False Creek project.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said it was vital to speed the legislation through in order to save jobs. He told reporters, “there’s very little time for the city to arrange the agreement. We want to do this, I think, to meet the city’s needs”.
Campbell said he wants to protect the 1,700 people working on the project, adding, “we have to do everything we can to secure jobs for people”.
Under the bill Vancouver can borrow what it needs to pay for remaining construction on the 1,100-unit condominium project, which is now facing financial problems.
The bill amends the city’s charter which sets out its legal power to allow it to borrow for the project without holding a required referendum.
Finance Minister Colin Hansen said the bill won’t amount to a government bailout. He said, “the sooner they get the change, the less risk to the taxpayers of the City of Vancouver”.
Cost of the entire project rose to $875 million, which includes a $125-million cost overrun.
The City of Vancouver plans to sell the Olympic Village condominiums once the Olympics are over in order to recoup its investment, but a worldwide recession has caused housing prices to drop.