2018 World Equestrian Games in Bromont, Que. in jeopardy

Confusion reigns over the future of a major international equestrian event set to be held in Bromont in 2018, after five members of the organizing committee quit over funding concerns.

5 members of organizing committee quit, citing funding concerns

A wave of resignations from the organizing committee of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Bromont has put the future of the event in doubt. (Radio-Canada)

There is a cloud of doubt hanging over the planning for a major world equestrian event set to be held in Bromont, Que. in 2018, after five members of the organizing committee quit in recent days.

The World Equestrian Games are to bring together the best horses and riders internationally to compete at the 1976 Olympics equestrian facility.

The five members, CEO Luc Fournier and chairman François Duffar, along with board members Julie Payette, René Perreault and Linda Heathcott, quit last weekend.

It's not clear how the resignations will affect the games, but some fear they could be in jeopardy.

"We're very concerned about this situation," said Richard Mongeau, general manager of the non-profit organization Cheval Quebec. His group backed the bidding process and is to promote the games, starting in 2017. 

He said the controversy is over the federal government's financial commitment to the games.

Mongeau said $9 million is coming from the province, and the federal government was expected to match that but hasn't yet made a commitment.

If this situation were to continue, it would be hard to imagine another result than the cancellation of the event,- Cheval Québec's general manager, Robert Mongeau

"That seems to be the crux of the situation which is creating this turmoil," he said. 

The outgoing CEO told Radio-Canada the issues involve several partners.

"Without a major change in direction and concrete and affirmed support from the group of partners, we cannot deliver the games in 2018," Fournier said.

Fournier said the committee has to pay for international rights among other expenses and that they are already struggling to survive. 

The local organizing committee of the World Equestrian Games says the games cannot proceed until more funding is secured. (Radio-Canada)

Fears of cancellation 

Mongeau said if something doesn't change, the games are in trouble. 

"If this situation were to continue, it would be hard to imagine another result than the cancellation of the event" he said. 

Bromont won the bid to host the World Equestrian Games two years ago and is set to be the first Canadian city ever to host the games.

"There is an important legacy behind infrastructure like that, that would position Eastern Canada as a top venue for equestrian and other sporting activities as well, which is a very important factor in this file."

The event is set to take place over two weeks, involves 50 countries and more than 750 horses and athletes. 

The total bill for the games is estimated at $95 million.

"It's a pretty big affair because what we're talking about is world championships but in eight different equestrian disciplines being hosted at the same time," Mongeau said. 

He noted that hundreds of thousands of spectators have attended previous games in other countries.

with files from Radio-Canada's Jean Arel, CBC Quebec AM