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Horgan wants 'assurances' for BC taxpayers before he cuts cheques for FIFA bid

Last Updated Mar 14, 2018 at 11:09 am PDT

BC NDP Leader John Horgan. (NEWS 1130 Photo) (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC’s premier is rejecting suggestions the province won’t support North America’s bid to host soccer’s World Cup in 2026.

However, John Horgan says he’s not ready to sign a blank cheque either–so what seems to be the hold up?

Horgan says he needs assurances BC taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for numerous costs, including security for BC Place which is owned by the province and is a potential host venue if the joint bid by Canada, the US, and Mexico beats out Morocco.

“I’d love to see soccer games at BC Place. I’ve said, quite clearly, to the proponents, ‘Bring it on. Let’s bring soccer to Vancouver in 2026’, but let’s also ensure that the costs to taxpayers are not out of control. The federal government announced today they support the bid in principle, but they didn’t say anything about the cost of security, they didn’t say anything about the indemnities that the province has to put in place–unlike other cities in Canada–because we own the stadium,” says Horgan.

“We’re going to continue working with the proponent throughout the week, but they have to be responsible as well and understand that as much as we would love to see soccer coming to Vancouver, coming to BC, world class, uh, not at any cost.”

Liberal MLA Jas Johal has been suggesting the deadline for an agreement authorizing the use of BC Place has already passed, but a final decision by the World Cup governing body will be made in June.

Horgan insists negotiations are ongoing.

“Well, we sent a draft submission to the proponents last week. It didn’t meet their expectations, but I have a higher obligation than just being a soccer fan. I have a higher obligation than just wanting to see World Cup soccer in Vancouver. I have to make sure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for unknown costs at the whim of FIFA. I’m just not prepared to sign off on that and nor is the Minister of Finance.”

Vancouver’s one of four Canadian cities involved including Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal.