‘I would probably encourage it’: Economist suggests N.B. pull out of Francophonie Games
An economist at Concordia University in Montreal says submitting bids for big sporting events always starts at an ideal dollar value, without showing realistic figures.
“When you submit a bid, all you’re doing is trying to present your best-case scenario for what the games are going to cost,” says Moshe Lander of Concordia University.
The Francophonie Games, or Jeux de la Francophonie, are projected to cost $130 million, while the original bid was placed for $17 million in 2015.
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Organizing committee officials broke down the costs at a press conference Monday.
Éric Mathieu Doucet, who is the president of the organizing committee’s board of directors, said $84 million is for operations, although $9 million of that is for goods and services or “in-kind.”
For infrastructure, $36 million is the price tag with $24 million of that pegged to be “essential,” while the remaining $10 million is for security costs, according to Doucet.
Lander says while many big sporting events run over budget, the amount the Francophonie Games went over surprises him.
He’s concerned the new price tag could be too steep to handle.
“It is a legitimate option to back out,” he says. “I would probably encourage it if these cost estimates are really true.”
The host cities of Moncton and Dieppe are each set to kick in $750,000, and while the federal government is to cover half the costs as per policy for international sporting events, there’s still roughly $63-million dollars left to cover.
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Greg Turner, deputy mayor of Moncton, says there’s no wiggle room to increase funding as of now.
“That’s the figure we’re working with,” he says. “We’re very comfortable with that figure for this event.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the province isn’t going to budge, either.
“We will not be stuck paying that increased cost,” he told reporters Tuesday. “No, absolutely not. I’ve committed to the money that was put forward — the $7-million — and that might go as high as $10 million, but I think all I’m interested in is look at the original tender. What was put forward under that $21 million, we’ll fulfill our commitment under that tender.”
Higgs says he’d like to see a collaboration of the Francophonie Games, with games being held in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ottawa.
“We aren’t in a position to just allow that to ramp up,” he says. “We aren’t in that position in this province.”
Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says in a statement the federal government is worried about the costs, and wants the province to assume its responsibility for the event.
He says it’s important that the province doesn’t back down, and that the games are held in Moncton-Dieppe.
But with the uncertainty about where the money could come from, Lander says backing out is still a legitimate option.
“The fact is that this isn’t going to bring any shame to Moncton, or to New Brunswick or to Canada as a whole,” he says. “The fact is that there’s a bunch of politicians who thought that this was a good idea, and now they’re going to be the ones that are shamed.
“So, to say that it’s shameful to the taxpayer, it’s embarrassing. That’s not true.”
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