COPE/Vision - Balance the books and then we'll talk...
There are two major projects close to the heart of Jim Green and COPE/Vision, and both have become poster children for the fiscal incompetence of this crew.
The Southeast False Creek development is an ambitious undertaking that has morphed from a cost-effective 2010 athlete's village to an expensive eco-sustainability project. The second, of course, is the Woodward's store development, aimed at building more low-cost housing in the Downtown Eastside.
Both are very admirable. However, are they priorities for Vancouver taxpayers? None of the polling I've seen says: "OK, go ahead, gut the capital in the Property Endowment Fund and eat into the interest that our children can count on for important future infrastructure in order to pay for a couple of very expensive vanity projects."
Last spring, for example, Vancouver's Director of Financial Services, Ken Bayne, warned that Southeast False Creek development needed, because of over-loading social requirements by Council onto the project, "considerable funding requirements for which funding sources have not been identified."
This is city-speak for "There isn't enough money. Let's ask the taxpayers for more."
This project, which had the potential for a $50 million profit for Vancouver, has turned into a subsidized development for the granola set because council couldn't say no. Costs are up $85 million. That's a lot of our cash that could be used treating addicts and putting cops on the street.
Is this project, for which Jim Green is dying to cut the ribbon, your priority?
Next? Woodwards. Books will be written on the Woodward's project. We all know the background - boarded-up landmark department store in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. Perfect for low-cost housing. And don't forget Jim Green's assertion that the private sector will do this at no cost to Vancouver taxpayers.
In fact, here is the quote from Jim Green just recently, "If you look at the Woodward's project, for example, the city commitment is close to zero."
If only that were true.
I guess he's forgetting the $5 million we paid to buy the Woodward's site and the $1.2 million in holding costs. Then council agreed to pay an additional $13.5 million to cover budget overruns, with warnings that we may still have to pay more. So, including some staff time, we're looking at $20 million.
Only in the COPE/ Vision math world would that equal a "close to zero commitment". City staff are again on the record calling it "an expensive and risky undertaking."
So, to recap, city staffers are negative on both projects because of huge risks and costs. The COPE/ Vision councillors are blowing our cash instead of investing in safer streets and better roads. And, adding insult to injury, they are raiding the Property Endowment Fund established 20 years ago to ensure that all residents benefited from Vancouver's real estate market, and losing our precious AAA credit rating.
If we give them three more years, will they have to sell pot at City Hall to finance their administration?
Setting the record straight: Bill Tieleman referred to me as one of Sam Sullivan's campaign team. While I admire those who are committing to get him elected, I am not active on his campaign.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)