City slow to tell its Sochi story

Former VANOC exec pocketed at least $17,000 to accompany Coun. Stevenson

A former VANOC employee hired to accompany Vision Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson to Sochi on the so-called Host City Pride House Mission was paid more than $17,000 by the time they arrived in the Winter Olympics host city. 

Maureen “Mo” Douglas’s company Mobilize Strategies received $10,500 on Jan. 17 and $7,350 on Jan. 31, according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information. Stevenson and Douglas were in Sochi Feb. 1 to 9 to lobby the International Olympic Committee to add sexual orientation to the Olympic Charter’s equality clause and to require future Games hosts to include an official gay and lesbian party venue, like the ones in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.

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Although the trip ended more than three months ago, Stevenson and city staff refused to provide certain information about costs to the Courier.

Douglas, who is based in Pemberton, worked eight years for the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee as community relations director. Since 2011, city hall paid her $122,043.52 to consult on several projects, including the public bike share program and Point Grey bike lane. City hall director of corporate communications Rena Kendall-Craden said Mobilize was pre-qualified as a corporate communications supplier last year.

Douglas said she worked as project manager on the Sochi mission contract from the middle of last November until the end of February, but referred questions to city hall. Kendall-Craden wouldn’t disclose how much Douglas was paid after January. “As far as subsequent payments, you may wish to go through FOI,” Kendall-Craden told the Courier.

Real estate marketer Bob Rennie and developer Peter Wall originally pledged $25,000 each when the project was announced last December. The Vision Vancouver majority city council agreed to use taxpayer funds for Stevenson’s trip after NPA and Green councillors alleged Stevenson was at risk of conflict of interest.

Stevenson’s Sochi-related expenses were $6,569.51, according to the civic website, but Douglas’s have not been released. Stevenson claimed Douglas’s expenses were to be paid by donors. City hall missed the May 7 statutory deadline to respond to an FOI request for the official list of donations. Stevenson declined to provide details. “There’s no way I can get or release a report ahead of time,” he said.

FOI director Barbara van Fraassen said a report is scheduled for presentation at council’s first June meeting, which is June 10.

The version of Stevenson’s calendar released via FOI after the trip showed only travel and accommodation information. Stevenson provided the Courier a separate version that showed seven interviews with various CBC programs, two with CTV and the Vancouver Sun, and one each with the Toronto Star, Global, Mountain FM, Co-op Radio and freelancer Jordan Wade.

Stevenson and Douglas had a two-night layover in Istanbul, Turkey before arriving early Feb. 1 in Sochi, where they stayed at the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort, the official IOC hotel. They visited Club Mayak, Sochi’s gay bar, on Feb. 2 and met for 90 minutes on Feb. 3 with Jochen Farber, chief of staff to IOC president Thomas Bach, and IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

Stevenson said the mayor’s office sent 75 introductory letters to IOC officials, but received only two responses: one from Bach’s office and another from a Spanish IOC member who Stevenson said would be arriving after he had left.

“No one else responded to our requests to meet with me. So that’s why my itinerary is blank,” Stevenson said. “I had no meetings planned at all before I left.”

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