A B.C. NDP government would put debt-ridden BC Pavilion Corporation (PAVCO) under severe scrutiny, charging a panel with a viability plan for its future, which could include its privatization and the selling off of BC Place stadium, Adrian Dix said Wednesday.
“BC Place and the Trade and Convention Centre are symbols of the misplaced priorities of the BC Liberals,” said Dix in a statement. “Massive cost overruns on construction and renovations, along with a bungled naming rights deal, have saddled taxpayers with a mountain of debt."
PAVCO has accumulated a debt of $1.2 billion, including $514 million for BC Place’s retractable roof, and projects an operating loss of almost $60 million over the next three years, the statement said.
“Skills training, healthcare, education, and managing our land base are all fundamental priorities for government,” said Dix. “Retractable roofs and stadium management, in my view, are not.
If the private sector can do a better job of running BC Place, while freeing taxpayers of millions in annual losses and reducing public debt, we’ve got a win-win, and we will pursue that.”
The panel would be asked to report back to government within 90 days, Dix said. Part of their mandate would be to support the long term viability of the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps sports franchises.
This is not the first time BC Place and PAVCO have been mentioned in election campaigning. Earlier, John Cummins of the BC Conservatives said that his party would cut off funding to the Crown agency.
The NDP is expected to roll out its full election platform later today, after a calculated campaign of releasing its main planks bit by bit.
The strategy has put the NDP and leader Adrian Dix firmly on the offensive, and leading the news agenda. He campaigning to win every seat, Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer noted, concluding: "Like [Gordon] Campbell before him, Dix has likely concluded that the surest guarantee of a second term is to crush one’s opponents in winning the first. He’s not in this campaign for a mere win; he’s craving a landslide."
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