Vancouver’s mayor wants the provincial government to amend the city’s charter to allow the city to borrow about $458 million to complete the financially troubled Olympic Village.

Under its charter, Vancouver is not allowed to borrow money without asking taxpayers via an election-day referendum.

But being granted borrowing authority does not mean that the city would finance the project itself.

Rather the city could use the ability to borrow money as leverage in its negotiations with New York-based financier Fortress Investment Group.

Fortress ceased advancing funds in September when the loan became “out of balance” due to rising construction costs.

At a press conference at city hall yesterday, Mayor Gregor Robertson said borrowing authority is “a tool to use in the negotiations and the pursuit of capital to complete the project.”
“We must focus on renegotiating the best deal possible for taxpayers and getting the project ready for the Games,” he said.

Amendments to the Vancouver Charter would require Premier Gordon Campbell to reconvene the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking at a news event in Surrey yesterday, Campbell said the province wants to be part of the solution, but is waiting to see exactly what the city is asking for.

As well, city manager Penny Ballem shed further light on the $875-million development in a special council meeting yesterday afternoon. In it, she detailed the history of the project as well as the $458 million needed to complete the project.

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