Call for investigation into mouldy Olympic Village allegations

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Ian Austin

The 2010 Olympic Athletes Village takes shape in Vancouver. A city councilor wants the developer to investigate allegations that the project could be susceptible to mould. RIC ERNST – THE PROVINCE

The 2010 Olympic Athletes Village on the shores of False Creek in Vancouver June 28, 2009. Photograph by: Ric Ernst, The Province

Construction continues yesterday on the Olympic Athletes Village on the south shore of False Creek. The plagued project is scheduled for completion Oct. 1.

Coun. Raymond Louie – PROVINCE FILES


Photo shows wall insulation being placed over uninsulated hot and cold water pipes. — HANDOUT

Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie wants the Olympic Village developer to investigate serious allegations that the development may become plagued by mould.

Louie said Millennium Southeast False Creek Properties Ltd. should inspect hot- and cold-water pipes in the massive developments after The Province revealed that unwrapped pipes could cause mould and mildew inside the project that is being fast-tracked to provide housing for Olympic athletes in less than eight months’ time.

“I expect the developer to ensure that the contractors and subcontractors do the job properly,” said Louie.

“If there have been shortcuts, I would expect them to do a level of inspection.

“Depending on what they find, they might want to do further inspections.”

Lee Loftus, business manager for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union Local 118, provided photos and brought the substandard practices to the attention of Millennium Properties.

But, after little was done, Loftus alerted The Province, and by Sundday the controversy was everywhere.

“It’s been a zoo,” said Loftus, fielding nonstop calls from media outlets and various contractors.

“The developer has called all the mechanical contractors, and the mechanical contractors have called the insulation contractors. There are threats of litigation already.”

Despite the controversy, Loftus feels he did the right thing to protect both future condo owners and taxpayers, who could end up paying if substandard practices are permitted.

“We’re glad we did it,” said Loftus. “It’s something that needed to be done.”

The $1-billion project has already made plenty of news — for all the wrong reasons.

The City of Vancouver has already invested more than $450 million to make sure the athlete’s village is completed — money it hopes to recoup when the units are sold or rented after the Olympics.

The city was also forced to finance the development after buying out the troubled Fortress Investment Group earlier this year.

Wayne Peppard, executive director of the B.C. Building and Construction Trades Council, said he knows the developer is under close scrutiny and pressure with the tight Olympic timeline for completion.

The development is scheduled to be completed on Oct. 1. It is to be handed over to the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on Nov. 1.

“The schedule is tight — the pressure is on for completion,” said Peppard. “I’ve been in this industry for 40 years, and I’ve seen these kinds of pressure, and things can happen.

“The urgency is there to get things done — there’s always a potential for problems when the pressure is on.”

New Democratic party Olympic critic Kathy Corrigan said she hopes the Olympic legacy is facilities and buildings, not a huge debt load.

“The crunch is on, and that’s a time when you can make costly mistakes or quality-control mistakes,” said Corrigan. “We’re supposed to have a legacy of buildings from the Olympics — I hope it’s not a legacy of cost overruns.

“Most of us are excited about the Olympics, but at the end of the day we’re going to have to see whether this was a good expenditure of taxpayers’ money.”

Olympic executive Dan Doyle said he is still confident that the Olympic Village will be a successful venue to house athletes during next February’s games.

“The City of Vancouver is a key partner and we’re in constant contact regarding the South-East False Creek project,” said Doyle, executive vice-president of venue construction for Vancouver 2010.

“They are making excellent progress, and we have every confidence their team will continue to address any issues as they arise and deliver a spectacular home for the world’s athletes in 2010.”

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