Dieppe mayor 'absolutely shocked' by ballooning Francophonie Games price
Yvon Lapierre says the city can't take on any more spending to help cover estimated $130M event
The mayor of Dieppe says he was shocked to learn the cost of hosting the 2021 Francophonie Games in his city and neighbouring Moncton had grown from about $17 million to $130 million.
Mayor Yvon Lapierre said he understood the cost would be $17 to 19 million until Wednesday night. That's when someone from the province told him about the increase to $130 million, something he said left him "absolutely shocked by the amount."
Dieppe and Moncton are co-hosting the international sports and culture event, considered one of the largest in the francophone world.
Radio-Canada reported Thursday the organizing committee for the event submitted a funding request to the province for $130 million in April.
How to pay the bill is now a pressing question, Lapierre said.
"Obviously there will need to be some very serious discussions about the finances of this project," he said.
The province and the federal government had previously committed to split the cost of hosting the games equally.
The new Progressive Conservative government said Thursday there were no funds approved in the budget for the Games. The federal government said it would stick to the original commitment to fund half of the cost, leaving the other half to the province.
Robert Gauvin, deputy premier and minister responsible for the Francophonie, called the news a chance to work together with federal and municipal governments as well as businesses.
"We're fairly positive we'll do the best Games that we can," he said. "While it's surprising, again, there's still time to work together and come up with a plan."
Lapierre said the city isn't prepared to consider increasing its funding commitment.
"Absolutely not," he said.
Dieppe and Moncton both committed to pay $750,000 as part of hosting the games.
Dieppe is also committed to covering one third of "legacy projects," the mayor said.
One example would be plans to add two soccer fields near the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick campus, which he said carries an estimated $2.5-million price tag.
Lapierre doesn't think there's a risk of the Games not occurring.
"I doubt that the province of New Brunswick and government of Canada would want to face that embarrassment," he said.
The event is expected to draw more than 3,000 athletes and artists from around the world.
With files from Gabrielle Fahmy and Radio-Canada