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Politicians OK Vancouver loan funds

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- The city of Vancouver will borrow more than $360 million to ensure the $800-million athletes village will be built for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

British Columbia politicians voted unanimously Sunday to support legislation that allows Vancouver to borrow the money without going to a public referendum.

Politicians debated the bill for about 20 hours straight. Opposition New Democrats had accused the government of hiding the costs of the Vancouver Olympics.

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said the legislation will allow 2,000 construction workers to keep their jobs and continue a building project that will enhance the city's waterfront.

The original loan was financed by New York-based Fortress Investment Inc., Millennium Development and the city, which was supposed to cover the cost of building the 1,100 units of housing.

Fortress stopped payments on the loan in September. The city said the company stopped payments because of cost overruns, and a crashing real estate market meant Millennium might not be able to pay them back.

The city stepped in with $84.3 million interim financing to keep construction going. However, that funding runs out next month.