Organizers of Francophonie Games defend cost estimate of US $ 130M



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Several other details on the estimated cost of $ 130 million to host the Games of the Francophonie in 2021 were released on Monday.

Organizers told a news conference late afternoon that their budget sent to the province, federal and municipal governments included $ 84 million in operating costs, $ 36 million in infrastructure and $ 10 million in event security.

The committee is under pressure to explain the budget jump to $ 130 million from $ 17 million two years ago when Dieppe and Moncton were chosen to host the international event.

The Games are expected to attract more than 4,000 athletes and artists to host cities.

Éric Mathieu Doucet, chairman of the board of the organizing committee, told reporters that the current committee should not be held responsible for the exorbitant cost.

"We were not responsible for the budget," he said, saying the decision was made in 2015 by an application committee created by the province with public officials and community volunteers. These volunteers included Doucet and Eric Larocque, who is now the executive director of the organizing committee.

"We were not responsible for budgeting," Doucet repeated.

Eric Larocque, executive director of the Organizing Committee of the Games of the Francophonie in 2021, says infrastructure requests came after the initial cost estimate was developed. (Shane Magee / CBC)

"I can say that it is the former government that submitted a bid for the Games of the Francophonie," Doucet said when asked if the former Gallant government was responsible for the lowest bid.

Larocque said last week that the $ 17 million offer was based on a financial structure suggested in the guide of the International Organization of the Francophonie. The price of $ 130 million, he explained, is the complete business plan that the committee was not required to submit as part of its proposal.

The current business plan submitted to federal, provincial and municipal municipal governments on March 30, 2018 has not yet been released.

The federal government also hired an independent consultant to review the plans. This report was delivered to the province and federal governments a week before the September 24 provincial election, committee members said on Monday.

Province will not release report

The CBC requested the province's report, which it said Monday afternoon that it would not release it because it is a federal document.

Of infrastructure spending, Doucet said $ 24 million is considered essential. This despite previous statements that the "beauty" of the bidding is that the Games would use the existing infrastructure.

The committee, when presenting its application for funding, places items in one of three columns: "essential for the Games", "desirable" and "useful and pleasant".

Laraquoe said that essential spending includes money for new soccer fields, resurfacing the tennis courts at Moncton's Centennial Park and repairs to the track at the University of Moncton stadium.

The Moncton University stadium hosted the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015. (CBC)

Moncton's capital budget for 2019 includes $ 5.1 million for artificial fields at CN Sportsplex with the city expecting to receive $ 3.7 million paid for by other levels of government.

Doucet said spending rose after the proposal was tabled.

"When the bidding was done, we went to the information we had," Doucet said. He said that since then FIFA officials and other sports organizations have evaluated the facilities.

We asked Deputy Premier Robert Gauvin how the province will handle the biggest increase in the estimated cost of hosting the francophone games. 13:03

Again on Monday, Robert Gauvin, the province's deputy prime minister, reiterated that New Brunswick will not spend more than $ 10 million on the Games.

"We have to find ways to reduce the cost of the Games," he said.

The federal government has said it will fulfill its commitment to cover half the cost.

The chairman of the board did not comment on whether the Games could still be held at a lower cost.

Withdraw not considered

The province has not signed a contract to host the Games. A provincial spokeswoman, Stéphanie Bilodeau, said it was still possible to leave the accommodation.

"However, this is not an option that the government is considering at this point," he said.

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