"You had an option, sir…" said Brian Mulroney to then Prime Minister John Turner regarding his spate of Senate appointments in advance of the ’84 Election
It’s been interesting to watch as the most partisan member of Vision Vancouver’s caucus was in fine form over the last couple of days. Loaded with a freshly minted report from hand-picked City Manager Penny Ballem, Mayor Meggs was out there on the media circuit slamming the previous NPA administration for its handling of the Olympic Village project.
When I listen to Meggs, I sometimes think I’m living in Alice in Wonderland. Does Meggs seriously want us to believe that he and his Vision colleagues had nothing to do with the financial situation related to the Olympic Village project? As an aside, was it not Meggs that worked behind the scenes as the costs for the now infamous fast ferries project ballooned out of control? Now he wants us to believe he’s a fiscal conservative?
Between 2002-2005 Mayor Meggs had control of the levers of government in Vancouver. During that time, some of the most critical decisions were set in stone regarding the Olympic Village. In fact, it was Meggs & Co. that were pushing from behind the scenes to have 2/3 of the whole project be subsidized housing. That’s right, he wanted two-thirds of all the units to have been subsidized by taxpayers. And this guy now wants you to believe that he had no role in jacking up the costs of this project? Don’t buy that spin for a minute.
Back in 2004/05, it was Meggs and his Council colleagues that had a real "have your cake and eat it too" attitude when it came to making this project the "showcase" of North America. They wanted it to have the highest environmental standards of any project. Ka-ching. They wanted more money to be spent on park land. Ka-ching. They wanted the project to include a new expansive community centre. Ka-ching. They wanted more daycares. Ka-ching. They wanted to preserve the old heritage Salt Building for future generations. Ka-ching. These are all great things, but at the end of the day, those decisions played a considerable role in helping to significantly increase the overall price tag of this project.
Setting aside the past decisions of previous councils, Mayor Meggs, in a display of doublespeak, says he has no option but to sink another $15 million tax dollars to help complete the waterfront social housing being constructed on site.
In the now famous words of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during his televised debate with John Turner…You had an option, sir.
This council didn’t have to sink an additional dime into this social housing project – full stop. However, as part of their Utopian effort to develop a "mixed" neighbourhood on Vancouver’s waterfront, they simply couldn’t make that decision politically.
Vision could have easily bought (or built) the equivalent or greater number of social housing units on cheaper parcels of land throughout the city. However, it was Mayor Meggs and his council colleagues that made the decision to pour more tax dollars into the mix, and blame the NPA for their decision. What sheer hypocrisy.
Meggs did provide some insight into the ideology behind why his colleagues won’t sell off those units and save taxpayers some money. Here is what he told CKNW radio:
"Developments the City does should be for all taxpayers. All citizens or taxpayers have a right to live in every part of the City. If we turn our backs on that then I think we will see the downtown core become almost a gated community."
So yes Mayor Meggs, you did have an option, sir. And you chose to sink even more money into this project in order that you can prevent the downtown from becoming a so-called ‘gated community’.