VANOC boss disputes Olympic bill

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - John Furlong said Vancouver’s Olympic organization did not ask the City of Vancouver to renovate the city-owned theatres or Granville Street.

The projects are listed among the $729.2 million gross cost of the 2010 Winter Olympics to city taxpayers included in a report for Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“There were things in that report that had nothing to do with the Olympic Games,” said Furlong, the VANOC chief executive. “I sort of see Olympic costs more in respect of what specifically we requested to be done for the Games.”

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse and Orpheum Theatre received $64.5 million in renovations. All three hosted Cultural Olympiad performances. The QET hosted the opening ceremony of the 122nd International Olympic Committee session and its plaza was the site of the Games’ aboriginal pavilion.

The Granville Mall, home of many popular nightclubs, bars and hotels, was renovated for $23.8 million. The adjoining Granville Bridge got $4.5 million for strengthening. The bridge is one of three that span False Creek and received more vehicle traffic after a Burrard Bridge lane was converted to bicycle-only use.

“Everybody that was involved in this did things that I think they probably would have seen as helping to prepare for the environment for what they thought was coming,” Furlong said. “That wasn’t part of any discussions we had.”

The City of Vancouver report used a similar definition of Olympic costs that then-B.C. Auditor General Arn van Iersel had in his 2006 report. Van Iersel estimated the cost of the Games to B.C. taxpayers was $2.5 billion. Items needed to stage the Games that were on an Olympic timeline were included in van Iersel’s tally.

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