Tuesday, October 23, 2007

After the Party, the Hangover ...

The Olympic Speed Skating Oval, one of the new Olympic facilities here in B.C., was lauded as an example of how government could partner with the private sector to relieve the overburdened taxpayer from the burgeoning Olympic Games cost.

Turns out, for some reason, that wasn't the case.

VANOC awarded the oval to the City of Richmond, transferring most of the financial risk to the city. VANOC’s financial contribution to the oval construction was given with the understanding that no additional funds would be provided. The city then sold off adjecent lands in a lucrative deal that covered the cost of the oval and then some.

Why then, did VANOC (the Vancouver Olympic Committee) give Richmond another $150,000 to finish the Speed Skating Oval?

The decision to hand over more money was made in a closed door meeting, VANOC is not subject to the freedom of information act, and they don't return calls.

With this level of risk management ability, the taxpayer will probably be called upon yet again to fill in an even larger amount on the blank cheque the government seems to have given VANOC. The Olympics will be a big party, no doubt, but the hangover increasingly promises to be even bigger.

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