The town of Bromont in Quebec's Eastern Townships says it's not giving up on its dream of hosting the World Equestrian Games in 2018, despite being turned down by the international selection committee when it expected to be a shoo-in.
Bromont was the last venue left in the running to host the 2018 games. However, everything was riding on a government commitment to put $20 million towards the event — funding that never came through.
The international selection committee has now reopened the bidding process but has made it clear Bromont's bid will still be considered, if the financial support from the government is in place.
That doesn't appear likely.
"Due to the current fiscal environment, the government of Canada is not in a position to support the hosting of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games," said Pierre Manoni, a spokesman for the department of Canadian Heritage, in a brief email statement Thursday.
Esther Chouinard, a spokeswoman for Quebec's sports ministry, said the Quebec government is ready to support the event to the tune of $4 million, but substantial federal funding would also be necessary.
"The federal government has to be at the table," Chouinard said in an email statement, in French.
The executive-director of the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park, Roger Deslauriers, and other members of the bid committee said they have not given up on attracting the necessary government funding.
"We worked so hard to reach [this] point," DesLauriers said, saying he's still convinced the two levels of government can be persuaded to pony up some cash for what would be the largest equestrian event ever to be held in Canada.
"The project is fantastic," he said. "The location, the organizing committee, the place. We've been running events here since [the 1976] Olympic Games."
"Everything is perfect."
Earlier Thursday, Premier Pauline Marois sounded supportive of the project.
"I don't have any objection to support the project of Bromont," said Premier Pauline Marois when asked about Bromont's bid on Thursday. "I hope they will have the possibility to have this event in Bromont."
Bromont Mayor Pauline Quinlan said there are good economic arguments in favour of government funding.
She says the event would draw half a million visitors and bring in $80 million in tax revenue.
"The governments are looking at the deficit situation, and we can understand that," Quinlan said. "But I think we have to look at this not as an expense but as an investment."