Francophonie Games could be scrapped without federal funding
It's going to take a lot of money and co-operation to save an international sporting event scheduled for the Maritimes in 2021.
The Francophonie Games in Moncton-Dieppe would be the largest sporting event ever held in Atlantic Canada, but the skyrocketing cost is too rich for New Brunswick's new government.
Thursday, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was trying to find a solution to what has become a controversial subject across the province.
“We should have a game structure that involves Quebec, the federal government, so it’s a national event that's being held in different provinces,” said Higgs.
Higgs says the concept that one sole province can take on something of this magnitude needs to be re-analyzed.
“So that means the federal government basically has to be a big component here and basically take this on,” he said.
This comes after the announcement that the price tag of the Francophonie Games had jumped from $17 million to $130 million.
“I think shock, or surprise,” said Moncton deputy mayor Greg Turner. “We had never heard anything in that range.”
“Somebody was either irresponsible or incompetent; you pick it," said Donald Savoie, the Canadian research chair in public administration and governance at the University of Moncton.
Five members from the board of directors organizing the games have now resigned.
Part of the statement from the resigning board members read, "this week’s events have taken away from these objectives and lead us to believe that we no longer have the confidence of the government of New Brunswick to continue our mandate.”
The mayor of Dieppe says it’s time to go back to the bargaining table and find some common ground.
“It's a lot of money,” said Dieppe mayor Yvonne Lapierre.“It's something that I think all the partners need to get together and work out the finer details and what kind of games we can hold.”
Turner says the budget needs to come down to needs versus wants.
“Is everything really necessary in that budget?” Turner said. “Or is it a wish list? And what's the needs?”
The premier says this is an opportunity to find a new strategy to move forward.
“We have a whole different situation here and I want to see them go forward and be successful,” Higgs said. “But we can't just throw caution to the wind. This is a chance for us to change the model, I think.”
Changing the model is being done with the hope that it will change the minds of those who are left skeptical -- and full of questions.
Higgs is not holding back on his words, though, and it seems the federal government is going to have to take on the majority of the costs or it's not going to happen.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker.