Solving the Sam Sullivan Olympic Village problem, $100 million at a time

Buried deep in the city’s annual financial statements headed to this week’s council meeting is the news that Vancouver is more than $170 million closer to retiring the Olympic Village debt.

That obligation stood at more than $750 million in 2009 when council negotiated to take over the project’s debt from a U.S.-based hedge fund and later orchestrated a negotiated receivership that moved Millennium Development Corp. off the scene.

The entire fiasco was a legacy of Sam Sullivan’s NPA council, which managed to sell the property to Millennium and then watch as the project went into the ditch in a brief three-year period from 2005 to 2008.

In the intervening five years since then, Gregor Robertson’s Vision council has overseen the rescue, completed the Village in time for the Olympics, sold many of the assets recovered from Millennium and steadily reduced the debt to about $300 million. Still to be sold: 181 condos and some remaining Millennium assets.

Will the city recover the value of the land? I remain hopeful but doubtful.

I am certain of this: these are good issues to raise with Sam Sullivan as he campaigns to become the BC LIberals’ MLA in Vancouver False Creek on his party’s platform of a debt-free BC.