As I wandered through the expanded Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre today (April 5), I thought about all those cost escalations.
I was at the first news conference when the B.C. Liberal minister of the day, Rick Thorpe, claimed it wouldn't cost more than $495 million.
Then I remember talking to another B.C. Liberal minister, John Les, who insisted it wouldn't be more than $565 million.
We now know that it cost $883 million, or so goes the official story.
The building is gigantic. The cost is obvious in the wood-paneled walls, the lush interiors of some of the rooms, and all that glass. My first thought was this: how on earth could those B.C. Liberal ministers and Premier Gordon Campbell have possibly believed the original cost estimate.
Were they on crack? Are they stupid? Or were they just lying to the public?
Regardless, those original cost estimates don't give me much comfort about the current forecasted deficit—which, coincidentally, is the same figure, $495 million, as the original estimate for the convention-centre expansion.
Does the premier like to tell his ministers—just make sure the figure is below a half-billion dollars?
For those who might question the B.C. Liberal government's forecasted budget deficit, I recommend they read this article by NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu.