Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friends of Soccer Requests Clarity and Solutions on BC Place

In light of the speculation in the past week over the future of the BC Place roof, Friends of Soccer has sent the following letter to Premier Campbell and the entire Liberal caucus to seek clear answers and a solution to the issue:


Dear Premier Campbell,

Almost four months ago, your government was re-elected on a platform based on building opportunities for economic growth, bringing long term benefits for the people of British Columbia. The renovation of BC Place stadium was one of the projects designed to create jobs now, and to drive millions of dollars of economic activity in a time when all of our core industries are struggling. It was a promise your party proclaimed dozens of times to the electorate, and your party took every opportunity during the campaign to slam your opponents when they showed uncertainty about the project.

The confusing statements and lack of clarity regarding the future of BC Place over this past week has been damaging to the industries that are trying to plan for B.C.'s post-Olympic future. It has raised questions over the future viability of major professional sporting events, concerts and trade shows in B.C. It has caused grave uncertainty in the construction industry, who need jobs now, and has handcuffed the tourism and hospitality industries' ability to plan for the future.

We urge you, for the sake of B.C.'s economy, to find solutions to complete this project, and to make a clear statement that your government is committed to completing it.

Throughout the world, governments are battling the recession through strategic investments in capital infrastructure, and it's working. We know from the history of past recessions and the Great Depression that cutbacks to infrastructure spending only increases unemployment and keeps the economy stagnated in recession for longer periods of time. Future generations are also robbed of the net benefits of improved infrastructure.

A fully renovated B.C. Place Stadium will be a net contributor to the economy. Those are the types of projects this province needs right now. Hundreds of construction jobs would be created immediately. Hundreds of long-term permanent jobs would be directly created through the operation of BC Place. The growth in the number and quality of events that could be held at BC Place would create renewed prosperity for our tourism and hospitality sector.

In 2011, Major League Soccer is scheduled to come to Vancouver. As we have seen recently in Seattle and Toronto, the impact this will have on Vancouver and the province will be surprising and profound. Thousands travel across the continent every season to follow their team. Millions watch around the world as the games are beamed onto TV screens across Europe, Asia and South America. Recently, the City of Portland predicted the arrival of MLS in their city will generate up to $50 million a year in economic activity. Portland is one of the U.S. cities hit hardest by the recession, yet they see the wisdom in making infrastructure investments that allow them to grow in the future. It would be shortsighted to jeopardize that future now in B.C..

On top of this, the economic benefits of the major concerts, trade shows and sporting events (such as the 2011 Grey Cup) are well documented. Without a fully renovated BC Place stadium, these events fall into question as well.

Four months ago, Friends of Soccer chastised your opponents on this issue and reminded them that citizens expect governments to be able to address a host of issues. We expect government to provide sustainable services, while providing the opportunities for economic growth and the freedom to provide a good quality of life for our families. To say we must choose between them in our society is a false choice. We are writing to remind you of that today.

We urge your government to be clear and upfront on your intentions regarding the BC Place renovations, and work with all stakeholders involved to find solutions to the issue.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer