VANOC never planned for recession

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANOC’s chief financial officer made no apology for the the May 2007 Olympic business plan, which errantly predicted “no recession through Games time.”

“I don't think it would've changed reality to have assumed a recession,” John McLaughlin said. “Most people would've probably thought it was unrealistic to do so back then, because that's not what the economists were telling us.”

A B.C. government report issued Friday disclosed almost $50 million in a direct bailout for VANOC because of the recession.

"We faced incredible challenges in the year leading up to the Games,” Finance and Olympics minister Colin Hansen said in a teleconference.

The Olympic Games Secretariat budget was originally $600 million, but the report said the provincial total is now $925.2 million. That does not include Crown corporations and agencies.

B.C. spent $165 million more on infrastructure when it traded Olympic security to the federal government. Another $160.2 million in costs include OGS administration, Robson Square, torch relays and opening ceremony.

“Can you trust Colin Hansen to tell the truth?” asked NDP Olympics critic Kathy Corrigan. “It'll be up to the citizens of B.C. to determine if it was worth it, but they do deserve to have fully transparent and complete accounting for the Olympics and we're not there yet.”

Ottawa injected an extra $30.7 million last fall after the International Olympic Committee pledged up to $22 million. That means VANOC may use $100 million in bailouts to balance its $1.76 billion budget.

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