City’s delays created all the problems for Olympic village, says developer Macdonald

A knowledgeable analysis of the Olympic village problems by developer Rob Macdonald in the Sun on the weekend. Although Rob doesn’t make it totally clear in the story, the original delay he’s talking about in the story was during the Larry Campbell administration.

If you can cast your mind back that far, you’ll recall that the city voted in favour of the Olympics in February 2003. The city was awarded the Games in July. There was a longstanding decision, not ever challenged by the new COPE council, that the city should build the athlete’s village. Presumably, once that July vote happened, the city should have kicked into high gear to get proposals from developers and get started.

But the RFP didn’t go until just before the election. It was issued so late that the new NPA council was abile to come in in 2005 and re-do the RFP, eliminating the requirement for affordable, middle-income housing to be one-third of the units.

I would add one comment to this. Many people have been critical of the city for imposing high standards on the village developers to build green, higher than any other development in town. But that requirement was set out in the city’s request for proposals: All developers knew, going in, that they would be asked to build a model sustainable project. So presumably that consideration would have been built into the money they offered for the land.

What drove up the costs and complexity, though, was the fact that those new green standards had to be designed and approved on an exceptionally short timeline.

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