Olympic village developer insists project okay
While construction is well underway at Millennium "Water," home of the 2010 Olympic village, there are no homes being built at Millennium's "Evelyn" project in West Vancouver.
Construction came to a halt last month. Three hundred and forty nine units were to be built on eight hectares above Park Royal shopping centre. The first phase consisted of 176 homes. Contractors are hopeful construction will resume, but some of them haven't been paid and have slapped liens on the Millennium development.
In Nanaimo, another Millennium project is faltering.
"They're already substantially late over their original commitment," says Blake McGuffie of the Hotel Design Committee. "The city should be seriously looking at canceling this arrangement as soon as possible."
The company hasn't revealed its financing source for a 170 room hotel. It appears the Millennium is putting everything it has into the False Creek Olympic village.
"They're basically saying 'hi there, we can't get the money we need to finish this, you need this finished, you need to put up loan guarantees,'" says Tsur Somerville from the UBC Sauder School of Business.
But with deadlines to deliver a village for Olympic athletes in 2010, Vancouver isn't in a position to negotiate.
"When you're haggling, you always want to haggle so you can walk away," says Somerville. "We can't walk away so we really don't have a choice and we don't have much negotiating power.
The City of Vancouver assures the risk to the public is minimal, but if there was no risk Millennium would have obtained the $100 million loan from the marketplace.
The company isn't commenting today, but in a statement, Millennium's Shahram Malek says "any money that may have been loaned is fully secured by the real estate and by other assets as well. There is absolutely no exposure for the taxpayer. None."
CTV News asked UBC business expert Tsur Somerville if taxpayers should be worried.
"I'm not worried, in the sense I think the risk is low, but I do know there is a risk, he says. "On the other hand, people who thought that we would get these Olympics and it's not costing anything and all on budget -- no Olympics ever, in any country, has ever been on budget."
Despite the financial problems, the developer insists construction of the athlete village is on schedule and will be ready for the 2010 games. In a statement, Vancouver's Olympic Organizers (VANOC) say "we remain confident that the Olympic village will be completed on schedule and delivered to us as planned in fall 2009."
The city of Vancouver signed a guarantee with VANOC that the village will be ready in October next year.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Carrie Stefanson