Features / Vancouver / Legacies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics

What ever became of VANOC?

At its peak four years ago, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games had a workforce of 50,000 paid employees, contractors and volunteers.

The 2003-created corporation still exists, under a four-person board that will meet sometime in early 2014.

“VANOC continues to operate at a minimal level while outstanding claims are resolved,” admitted chair Ken Dobell, the last remaining original director who was ex-Premier Gordon Campbell’s right hand man.

Dobell claimed VANOC, which was named in several personal injury and business disruption lawsuits, balanced a $201,000 budget for the year ended July 31, 2013.

“A final financial statement will be released on dissolution, which we anticipate will take place in the first half of 2014,” Dobell said via email. “The board will not release further financial information until that time.”

 Inside the press centre during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. (Jeff Hodson/Metro File).

Inside the press centre during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. (Jeff Hodson/Metro File).

The other directors are Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem, Resort Municipality of Whistler lawyer Sharon Fugman and Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Overholt. Ballem was a signatory to the fall 2010 agreement that will keep VANOC financial records and board minutes hidden from the public eye in the Vancouver Archives until 2025.

Dobell said the board is “confident” VANOC’s remaining assets will cover its liabilities, but he did not specify.

In its most-recent public report on Dec. 17, 2010, VANOC claimed a balanced $1.884 billion operating budget through July 31, 2010. But that required $187.8 million extra from taxpayers already on the hook for more than $600 million in venue construction. Operations were supposed to be covered by corporate sponsorship, broadcast rights, and ticket and souvenir sales. Even before the Great Recession hit, VANOC sought more funds from governments.

VANOC’s registered address is on the fourth floor of 375 Water Street at the TwentyTen Group, a marketing agency formed by ex-VANOC executives Andrea Shaw and Bill Cooper.

Dobell said there is no relationship with TwentyTen Group and its office is only used “as rarely needed temporary meeting space.” The address is also shared by John Furlong Enterprises, the company owned by the ex-VANOC CEO. Furlong is denying three 2013 lawsuits that claim he abused students at a Burns Lake Catholic elementary school where he was a volunteer gym teacher in 1969. Examination for discovery is scheduled for February. In October, Furlong dropped his 2012 defamation lawsuit against the Georgia Straight, but not reporter Laura Robinson. Trial dates have not been scheduled.

“VANOC is not financially supporting Mr. Furlong in his legal affairs,” Dobell said. “VANOC has no relationship with John Furlong Enterprises.”

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