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Plug pulled on electric car race

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Bob Mackin 

Racecars won’t be returning to the east end of False Creek this summer. 

Announcements late afternoon on April 21 from Vancouver city hall and the Canadian E-Fest promoter One Stop Strategy Group Inc. that the ABB Formula E World Championship series race on July 2 has been cancelled.

(Formula E/Twitter)

 City of Vancouver said that OSS “elected to exercise its rights under the host city agreement to postpone” to a future date. 

“The City and OSS Group will continue to work together and hope to announce a new date in the near future. City staff will report on this to Council at a date and time yet to be determined to request Council’s approval of an updated Host City Agreement.”

OSS, through a local public relations company, said OSS “had to make the incredibly difficult decision to postpone the Canadian E-Fest until 2023.”

“Delivery of a world class event is of the utmost importance to the organization. We will be communicating with ticket holders via ATPI our ticket partner to inform their options,” said the OSS statement. 

The temporary, 2.21-kilometre racecourse was supposed to use some of the same streets as the Molson Indy Vancouver, which last ran in 2004. 

But the Formula E cancellation with 77 days to go came as no surprise to insiders. 

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung and Coun. Michael Wiebe spearheaded the proposal at city hall and it was approved by city council in April 2021. 

“Council was aware that it was a tight timeline and that the liabilities would be on the organizers,” Wiebe said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the groups involved to see if we can make it happen.”

The February host city agreement for Vancouver called for payments of $500,000 in security deposit by April 1. OSS claimed to have sold more than 33,000 tickets and planned a two-day “E-Volve” conference and concert by Nickelback.

Deputy City Manager Karen Levitt struck a task force about two months ago to deal with OSS, while suppliers and venues were beginning to report non-payment. 

Caroline Vanasse, head of event partnerships for the Globe Series, sent a message to sponsors and suppliers on April 20, distancing the Vancouver organization from OSS.

“As a values-driven organization where honesty, integrity and transparency are key to who we are, we want to let you know that we are no longer supporting OSS Group (event producers) on delivering the E-Volve conference at the Canadian E-Fest due to OSS’ breach of contract,” Vanessa wrote.

Map of the proposed route for the Vancouver Formula E race.

“Numerous issues have made our involvement in this initiative with OSS untenable, and as a result we do not believe we can produce a high-quality event nor service our partners in the current timeframe.”

Vanasse said that the Canadian E-Fest and FIA Formula E World Championship race are an enormous opportunity for the city and country and Globe would be glad to be involved in those events, should they be delayed and “new leaders are put in place.”

Patsy McMillan, past-chair of the False Creek Residents Association, said her group met several times with organizers and hopes it will happen in 2023. Their major concern was the total, two-day closure of Quebec Street, which would have affected access to the City Gate towers. 

“We were successfully working through this when the race was postponed. Also changes to the temporary park were being worked through,” McMillan said. 

It took two days for OSS to mention the 2022 cancellation on the website. It said it would be “communicating with ticket holders to inform their options.”

A week later, it has not answered questions from theBreaker.news about the refund process.

Montreal hosted the race in 2017. Before the end of that year, however, Mayor Valerie Plante said it would not return because it was a “financial fiasco.” Ticket sales were dismal, with 25,000 sold and 20,000 given away, and the cost of the race was $40 million. 

Last year, the city reached a $3 million out-of-court settlement with organizers. 

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