Something, in my view, has always stunk when it comes to the modern day saga of BC Place ….. and maybe what could turn out the world’s most expensive roof!
Whether it’s been the discussions surrounding replacing or moving the entire facility or just replaicng its roof .. and most importantly, who should pay for any of it … I haven’t felt comfortable with any of the proposals or discussions.
Maybe that’s because, after 38 years of reporting … most of that involving politics, politicians, public money and the possibilities of preferential partisan predispositions … I have never liked what I have seen surrounding the roof/stadium debate.
Now I understand the roof replacement cost would reportedly be a $450 million project… ie probably $600 million when completed. Ridiculous on its own!
But especially so at a time when six legal-aid offices in the province are being shut down for lack of funds, when schools are facing more and more cuts and layoffs, when times are so tough we can’t afford to raise the disgraceful $8/hour minimum wage and when someone I know diagnosed with kidney cancer has to wait until May for surgery … but there’s hundreds of millions of dollars for a stadium roof.
And then there was that recently-revealed phone call last year to Culture and Arts Minister Kevin Krueger.
Richard Turner, identified by several media as a “Liberal insider” and “Liberal financial backer and appointee” called Krueger on his cell phone (Do YOU have that number? I sure don’t!) to discuss Paragon’s plans to build a $450 million multi-hotel and casino project on the shore of False Creek, near the stadium.
Turns out Turner is a director of one of Paragon’s corporate entities and a shareholder in the Edgewater Casino also near the stadium. And he admits telling Krueger if the stadium roof project is NOT proceeded with “we’ll have to downsize what we said we would do in the bid package.”
Threat? Just a statement of the facts? Normal business pressure tactic? Everyone will have their own interpretation … but what is clear is that it was AFTER that call that the government announced it WOULD go ahead with the roof replacement project.
In my view, there’s a smell wafting from it all … and it’s not the smell of success from the point of view of expenditure of public dollars.
And we’re not just talking a small amount of public $$$$… reportedly $365 million (I’d bet it would end up more) .
The press, the Opposition must NOT let up on this one.
To me, it smacks of an arrogance of power by politicians who believe they can just spend public $$$ as they wish … even foolishly on wildly expensive ill-advised projects … helping out friends and insiders … in the belief they can just get away with it, and get re-elected anyway.
They could even be right.
But I believe there’s enough happening here for a couple of legislative committees to turn their attention to. examine and expose what is going on.
And enough to keep the media busy too … on real news, involving a great deal of legitimate public interest.