News Local

Anton throws Village into election mix

By Erica Bulman, 24 Hours Vancouver

With the civic elections coming up, the Olympic Village is being tossed about as the latest campaigning hot potato.

NPA mayoral hopeful Suzanne Anton called on city hall Wednesday to release information on the Village's sales and overall financial position before the Nov. 19 vote.

"Mayor Gregor Robertson promised last election to be open and transparent on this," Anton said.

Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs called Anton's move a "suddenly nothing happened story" because city manager Penny Ballem just last week emailed councillors a memo updating them.

"I posted it on my blog," said Meggs, whose Oct. 6 post showed 58% of the 737 market units had been sold, 61% were occupied, and overall occupancy was 73%.

But Anton, who also received the memo, complained it provided no financial updates.

Meggs said that's because the development's receiver Ernst & Young reports to the B.C. Supreme Court, not city council.

Ernst & Young last filed a receiver's report to the Supreme Court in May. However, it periodically remits proceeds to the city, meaning city officials should be aware of the project's financial status and updates.

Poor sales by the original developer, Millennium Development, resulted in receivership, a city bailout and a $740-million debt to city hall. Ernst and Young took over the Village in November.

"We got into the ditch very deeply because when we had the election exactly three years ago, the NPA were making a secret decision to advance money to a New York hedge fund (to finance the Millennium project) at the height of the financial crisis," Meggs noted.

Anton said the vote was in camera because they were in negotiation at the time.