Cost overruns put Moncton-Dieppe bid for Francophonie Games in jeopardy
The bid to host the Francophonie Games in Moncton and Dieppe in 2021 is at a standstill.
The original price tag has skyrocketed and there are questions about whether the new Progressive Conservative government will spend the money.
Just one day after a business plan for the games was unveiled, the New Brunswick government is pondering its next move.
The Francophonie council approved New Brunswick's bid to host the game in 2016.
At that time, it was believed the games would cost about $17 million, but now the price has gone up to $130 million.
“Now, it's a whole different ball game,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
People's Alliance leader Kris Austin echoed the premier's message.
“We support the games, but investing millions of dollars into any type of game while the province continues to slide … our position is clear: we don't want to see one more dollar spent on the games,” Austin said.
When the province put the original bid forward, they did not have a business plan.
An organizing committee was given the job to come up with a plan and crunch the numbers. That committee submitted a proposal before the provincial election.
“Our first role was to create a business plan, to have the plan and to put it forward to our partners to see what kind of funding they wanted to put forward,” said Eric Matieu Doucet, the local organizing committee chair.
That plan comes with a $130 million price tag.
An international consultant was also hired to analyze the plan, but now it's at a standstill.
“Now, we are in the negotiation stage,” said Matieu Doucet. “The different partners are talking together to see who is going to put what and who is going to front what for hosting the games.”
As of right now, the cities of Moncton and Dieppe are each contributing $750,000. Neither city is looking to budge, but it is very possible those numbers will be negotiated in the future.”
Officials are optimistic the games will bring economic spin offs.
“These games are a game changer,” said Matieu Doucet. “We're talking about the biggest event ever in the history of Atlantic Canada.”
It could potentially attract newcomers to the region.
“We know immigration is an important topic in our region and we can look at these major events and see how we can maybe attract families, students, so they can start a new life here,” said City of Moncton spokeswoman Isabelle LeBlanc.
These are all factors for parties to contemplate while they consider the financial costs.
One suggestion Higgs made to soften the economic blow of the games to economically-challenged New Brunswick was to spread them out to other provinces, thereby sharing the costs. So far, there is no word on whether any provinces like Quebec would be willing to participate.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker.