BC Place

Can we believe anything they say?

Pavco’s convention centre and stadium deals fascinate me. People residing beyond BC’s lower mainland are probably more pissed-off than fascinated. The arrangements clearly demonstrate disaster potential when public and private enterprises work together and no one gives a damn about the public interest. Taxpayers are lumbered with colossal commitments, while insiders flip hidden ancillary benefits (value increases on contiguous lands, for example) and convert long term revenue streams for instant cash gains. That seems to be consistent among public/private partnerships approved by BC Liberals.

PavCo has been an unmitigated disaster, its officers spending money like highrollers hitting Las Vegas with black American Express Centurion Cards for which they’ll never have to account. The compulsive gamblers would be able to say what a wonderful time was had but no one will speak about value.

I can deduce the likely motivations of real estate speculators and developers when they climb into bed with politicians who are either corrupt or terminally stupid but I simply cannot understand why the corporate media pretends that nothing is amiss. The worst go beyond wilful blindness, allowing facts to be redrawn without even a hint of reluctance or unease. Consider the example here involving CKNW, a radio station that under Warren Barker, once set the standard for audio journalism in Canada.

Bill Good in recent weeks reminded listeners of the NDP’s “fast-ferry fisasco,” a project begun 17 years ago. Good was being protective of BC Liberals, trying to deflect criticism of a party that erroneously styles itself strong in “fiscal responsibility.” According to Liberals in 2006, the BC Place renovation (references below) would cost $2.5 million with the roof expected to “last another 15 or 20 years.” Two years later, the renewal tab had grown to $253 million, then, in the following year, to $365 million, later revised to $563 million. Bill Good apparently missed part of the price escalation. His Monday morning newscast on NW referred to the $240 million roof on BC Place.

Intentional misrepresentation or innocent error? You decide.

Here are a few extractions to recap media treatment of Pavco’s most recent work. As with the $400 million Canada Place and the $900 million Vancouver convention centre projects, the corporate media expresses almost no consternation over cost escalations. I exempt Bob Mackin from this criticism; his work stands out for consistent thoughtfulness.

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun, March 8, 2008:

It was May 2006, a committee room in the legislature buildings, and the Opposition was raising prophetic concerns about BC Place. Not to worry, the B.C. Liberals insisted. Though completed back in 1983, the stadium was good for another two decades.

It is not anticipated that BC Place will need a significant capital infusion,” minister-for-the-Olympics Colin Hansen said. The government had budgeted a mere $2.5 million for the touch-up. The full amount to be covered out of the existing budget for the 2010 Winter Games.

With proper maintenance, [Liberal Minister Olga Ilich] insisted, “the roof is expected to last another 15 or 20 years.

Bob Mackin, Vancouver Courier:

…They [Gordon Campbell and David Podmore] appeared together at the May 2008 renovation announcement, touting a lightweight fabric, Germany-devised retractable system reinforced by heavy steel. It would be done after the Olympics, but they kept mum on the cost.

Behind the scenes, PavCo-hired experts estimated it would cost $253 million but be completed only two weeks before the Olympics’ Feb. 12, 2010 opening ceremony.

The all-in cost was finally disclosed at $365 million in January 2009 but ballooned to $563 million by October of that year. Podmore still insists it’s on-budget.

The full business case has been shrouded in cabinet secrecy and the expenditure never debated in the Legislature or put to voters, the ultimate financiers…

Bob Mackin, Vancouver Courier, Sept 27, 2011:

…The installation of roofing fabric at B.C. Place was originally scheduled to begin in February but was delayed until June.

The construction schedule was shuffled after the late installation of cables. Quebec-based steel contractor Structal blamed French cable subcontractor Freyssinet.

BC Place leaks to be sealed for reopening, CBC, Sept. 27, 2011:

The chairman of B.C. Pavilion Corporation [David Podmore] is promising the new roof on BC Place will be ready for the stadium reopening on Friday — and there won’t be any leaks.

Welcome to the new bc place, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 1, 2011:

And as of this weekend BC Place is open again – on time, and on budget.

BC Place Stadium still struggling with leaky roof, Mike Hager, Vancouver Sun, Oct 10, 2011:

Stadium general manager Howard Crosley said a leak before the game sent eight workers onto the roof and several other leaks sprang up during the football contest.

Bill Good, CKNW News, 8:00 am news, Oct. 10, 2011:

Think of BC Place as an outdoor stadium and dress for the weather.

NW’s reporter Jordan Armstrong:

The $240 million retractable roof was closed but the rain still made it inside…

Charmaine de Silva, CKNW News, 8:30 am, Oct. 10, 2011:

Work on the $240 million retractable roof still isn’t finished yet at BC Place.

Categories: BC Place, Pavco

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8 replies »

  1. Why is Bill Good bringing up the fast ferries? He should be slamming the Liberals for their CURRENT overspending. What kind of reporter is he anyways? Who in the hell is he working for?


  2. Let's see, Bill Good and others of his ilk keep bringing up the fast ferries as the ultimate example of fiscal miss management. So what does that say about the fiscal management skills of the government that brought us the almost one billion dollar convention center ( that Gord said would be on budget ” read my lips ” ) and the now leaky roof of BC place which alone cost more than the fast ferry fiasco.

    And that does not take into account what the Liberals tinkering with BC Hydro and the Ferries are going to cost us.

    When will the BC Liberals be called what they are, the worst stewards of taxpayer money this province has ever had.


  3. Why Norman I think you are onto something. The latest attempts at reigning in any Liberal fiascos is being dealt with by deliberately misrepresenting the facts. There are so many numbers attached to so many projects out there that the faithful to the Liberal manifesto will believe what they hear. No need to know the truth, just pick and choose a fact, any fact. The voters that don't really pay attention will vote Liberal because they have been brainwashed by this propaganda. Who says it doesn't work?


  4. The Canada Line.

    Fist cost estimate $1.3 billion.

    Final advertised cost $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion, depending on news station/reporter.

    Final cost estimated $2.5 billion+.

    Susan Heyes estimate (in her lawsuit research) $2.9 billion.

    Cost to upgrade to LRT standards, $1 billion to $2 billion.

    You will never hear this on Bill Borings program, where he deems the Canada Line a success because “there are fewer cars on Granville street.”

    Such scientific acumen leaves me breathless!


  5. Two weeks ago, Pavco's David Podmore announced that finishing touches being made to the roof would put an end to leaks. Now, Podmore is replaced on stage with Howard Crosley and he reads from a new script.

    I wonder if they will tell trade show organizers that BC Place is an outdoor stadium and people should dress for the weather.


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