REALITY CHECK: B.C. Liberals’ Credibility In Question Over B.C. Place Roof Financing

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After telling British Columbians last month that the retractable roof portion of B.C. Place would cost $290 million, the B.C. Liberals admitted the bill has ballooned to $458 million this past Friday – a 37 per cent increase.

While the B.C. Liberals continue to play defensive with the media over the ballooning costs for the B.C. Place roof here are the facts:

  • In their September, 2009 Budget update, the capital plan had a total of $365 million for the entire B.C. Place rejuvenation project – $75 million to June 2009 for interior renovations and $290 million to the summer of 2011 to complete the roof. Last Friday, the B.C. Liberals announced the province would be loaning PavCo., a Crown corporation, a 40-year, $458 million dollar loan.
  • The $168-million increase comes after the Treasury Board approved the $365 million budget figure based on financing plan that the government claimed was solid.
  • When questioned over the escalating costs Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger replied: “It is a mistake in terminology to say escalating costs. We had an estimate on something that’s never been done before.” (CKNW Oct. 26, 2009)
  • Which leads to the question: did the B.C. Liberals willfully deceive British Columbians about the cost of the B.C. Place roof throughout the election campaign, or are they arguing that they shouldn’t be held to their pre-election budget numbers because their platform figures were just a guess? If they knew all along that the cost of replacing the roof was a guess why didn’t they just say that from the beginning?
  • Despite the fact that the Vancouver Convention Centre went a whopping 70 per cent over the original budget, the B.C. Liberals are now trying to claim it came in “under budget”, and are funneling $42 million from that boondoggle toward B.C. Place.

Carole James and the New Democrats are strongly committed to supporting sports in B.C. while protecting taxpayers from the long-term risks associated with B.C. Liberal cost-overruns.