Village builder aims millions at inner city
Developer commits $15 million to purchasing and $750,000 to training 100 staff
Frances Bula, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2007
VANCOUVER - The company building Vancouver's Olympic athletes' village has agreed to try to buy $15 million worth of goods from "inner-city" businesses, hire 100 people who live in the inner city, and pay $750,000 to help with pre-employment training.
The agreement is between Millennium Development and Building Opportunities with Business -- BOB -- a city non-profit agency set up to try to channel Olympics-related purchases to inner-city businesses.
BOB is funded by the city, provincial and federal governments.
It's all part of the city's original "inner-city inclusivity" promise in its Games bid to make sure the 2010 Olympics benefit the city's poorest neighbourhoods.
The agreement, which will be made public today, was welcomed by both Mayor Sam Sullivan and his political opposition, which originally made the commitment when it controlled city council.
"I think this will be a very important legacy," said Sullivan. "Having people from the inner city benefiting is great. I'm very pleased that this project will be a socially sustainable one, as well as environmentally and financially."
Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie also said he was pleased. "I think it's a very good step to make [the Games] lasting, so it's not just a handout, but a hand up," he said. "This is an example of what can be done and it's a result of our work last term."
Vancouver is the first city to make a commitment to host "socially sustainable" Olympics Games and to try to ensure that its inner-city neighbourhoods get some of the benefits from what has often been seen as a mega-event that has a mainly negative effect on low-cost housing and the lives of low-income people.
Deputy city manager Jody Andrews, in a memo to council members about the agreement, said the city has also been trying to fulfil the social part of its commitment in other ways.
Because the city's bidding process encourages companies to hire aboriginals and inner-city residents, he noted that the Southeast False Creek project has seen an aboriginal company provide $250,000 worth of gravel and an aboriginal foreshore-site administrator, along with a group from the inner city doing landscaping.
The inner city is defined as the Downtown Eastside, the Downtown South and Mount Pleasant.