As Flames Dies, Olympic Costs Pile Up for Vancouver

The Olympics have ended in Vancouver, but their costs live on.

The city is expected to face more than $1 billion worth of debt related to the Winter Olympics.

"Security costs, first estimated at $165 million, are now headed toward $1 billion.

Still, organizers insist the operating budget will break even. But that forecast includes $423 million in emergency money from the International Olympic Committee, and detailed financial information will not appear until after the Games are over.

As for Vancouver's municipal government and the taxpayers, the bad news is already in. The immediate Olympic legacy for this city of 580,000 people is a nearly $1 billion debt from bailing out the Olympic Village development. Beyond that, people in Vancouver and British Columbia have already seen cuts in services like education, health care and arts financing from their provincial government, which is stuck with many other Olympics-related costs."

Full Story: A $1 Billion Hangover From an Olympic Party



Brent Toderian's picture

this article gets so many things wrong

It's remarkable to me that the NY Times could run an article with so many inaccuracies or mistakes. Indeed, the financial challenges of the downturn will make the Olympic Village financing a challenge, and we're going to have to be very smart about the recouping/ sales strategy in the coming years to break even or profit. But our market is doing much better than anywhere else in North America, and I'm confident. But a billion dollars debt to the local municipality?? The security costs aren't really the citys line item and we won't have debt of this type, at all. The developers doing the community plan? At a key point we asked them for refinancing advice, long after the plan had been done for years, and we appreciated the advice. The inaccuracies would take too long to detail - not impressed.

Its not easy completing responsibilities in the face of the economic downturn. Poor reporting doesn't help the situation.

In general though, the Olympics have been an amazing success for us at the city. See my blog posts here at Planetizen.
Brent Toderian
Vancouver Director of Planning

Let me add my voice to the

Let me add my voice to the previous comment, to say this report is both inaccurate and misleading. The New York Times should know better. To address just one of several errors the writer makes, the City of Vancouver does not have a $1 million debt. Rather, it has made an investment in the Southeast False Creek Athletes Village which it will recover over time with sales of the housing. In addition, the carrying costs of this investment are more than covered by the differential between the interest rate the City pays for borrowing money and what it charges the developer: it actually makes money on this deal.

Beyond the specifics however, the overall tone of this report is just plain wrong and misses the point entirely about these Olympic Winter Games: the great majority of Vancouverites and indeed Canadians see the Games as a huge success, and a turning point in the city's short history: the real benefits are not just dollars (which will come) but the surge in pride and confidence that comes with citizenship of a city of the future that backs itself. I predict that Vancouver will grow in all sorts of good ways as a result of this experience, including becoming even more sustainable and smarter, and a more dynamic, vital public realm.

Lance Berelowitz
Urban Forum Associates
Planning & Urban Design

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