British Columbia

Minister takes heat over Vancouver Convention Centre costs

The NDP has slammed the Campbell government over huge cost overruns on the construction of the new Vancouver Convention Centre expansion, which is still far from complete.

The NDP has slammed the Campbell governmentover huge cost overruns on the construction of the new Vancouver Convention Centre expansion, which is still far from complete.

The estimated cost of the waterfront project has risen from half a billion dollars to what Tourism Minister Stan Hagen calls the low $800-million range.

Hagen admits he's troubled by the cost overruns.

Last week, he announced an overhaul in the management of the expansion, merging the boards of directors of the convention centre project and the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, which manages B.C. Place stadium.

NDP Leader Carole James said it looks like an attempt to cover up the cost problems.

"After years of denial and massive cost overruns, the government's finally acknowledging just how badly they have mismanaged the entire convention centre project," she said

James also wants to know why the government stepped in before the auditor general has even released a review of the project.

"If they've got the report and they have the information, why did they act ahead of time? Do they know that something is coming? Are they worried that there are concerns coming forward from the auditor general, and do they want to make sure that they address those concerns ahead of time?"

Outside the house, Hagen told reporters he merged the two boards to bring in more construction expertise for the convention centre project.He also said the move had been planned for months.