Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside



It was interesting to read in the Vancouver Sun on November 12,2004 that the City under the direction of Councilor Jim Green plans on spending another $650,000.00 of taxpayers money to re-renovate the old Four Corners Bank at the corner of Hastings and Main.

As I read this I thought gee haven't we been down this road a few times before?

For history buffs the answer is yes.

Some of my viewers of this blog will remember that on April 15, 1996, to much fanfare, the bank known as Four Corners opened its doors. The bank was known to my neighbors as Jim Green's bank.

It was originally purchased for $900,000.00 and another $1 million was spent on renovations. The government of the day, the NDP provided a share capital asset of $10 million dollars.

It also hired Mr Green to head up the bank. Mr Green was also appointed by the government to head up their Community and Economic Development unit.

Imagine from principled activist to banker, Mr Green was one happy man.

From the beginning, the NDP governmnt provided $5 million dollars in start up funds and then in 1998 had to provide another $2 million. This was a result, over the ensuing years, of repeated losses. In fact, as chair of the bank, Jim Green, presided over accumulated losses of close to $8 million dollars.

By October 1997, in a short period of two years, the Four Corners had gone through three general managers. It has to be noted that all of these well respected general managing experts had extensive experience in the banking industry. As the last manager was set to leave, he suggested that the Bank needed a chairperson who understood banking and had financial smarts. This was obviously a broadside at Mr Green. Mr Green, in turn explained that the bank was going through a re-structuring process.

The bank was originally touted as a business that would provide jobs to low income Downtown Eastsiders. It was to be the catalyst that spurred economic development for the Downtown Eastside.

It did provide a very modest number of jobs. In fact, only three to four full-time jobs with part-timers rounding the number out to a grand total of 12 employees was hired. But if you factor in, the lay-offs which occurred almost immediately, the job creation aspects was of little significance to residents of the Downtown Eastside. Moreover, according to government records, the bank once provided a small business loan of $5 thousand dollars.

Wow--some economic development Mr Green!

It must also be noted in a report done for the National council on Welfare, only three (3) employees said the training they received and the jobs were of any benefit to them.

The new era government, in 2002, in a bold and necessary move, finally shut the doors of the troubled Four Corners bank.

However, undeterred, once gain and quite shamelessly, enters Jim Green. Mr Green as many of you are aware was elected to Vancouver City Council in 2002. Almost immediately, he had the City purchase from the provincial government, for an undisclosed sum, the Four Corners.

The City after purchasing the bank, spent another $1 million dollars to yes you get it--once again re-renovate the bank.

Now here it is 2004 and Mr Green is demanding that taxpayers again foot the bill for another $650,000.00 of renovations. This time Mr Green wants the bank to be used as a centre for business and economic development.

But wait a minute here Mr Green--wasn't that the original plan?

Mr Green certainly can never be faulted for being a dreamer. But it always comes at a price. And it always costs big-time. And in Mr Green's own words "I can be bought but dont come cheap".

The question begs asking, but who is doing the buying Councilor Green?

To the taxpayers--scary isn't it!

Stay tuned for other posts of Mr Green's economic development messes.

Jamie Lee Hamilton