Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Meghana Sre
A chaotic storm of an incompetent city council, the greed of land owners, Formula E’s inaction, and the promoter’s inability to negotiate a suitable compromise led to the inevitable failure of the planned Vancouver ePrix. But before we take a closer look at where each party was in the wrong, we first have to go through what happened.
The Vancouver ePrix was scheduled to debut in 2022, the first ever street race in the city of Vancouver. However, multiple issues arose months before the scheduled date of the race. Twelve weeks before the race, Formula E tried to step in and assist the promoters in resolving the disagreements, but it was too late. The deadline for handing in contracts and getting a permit for the race passed without the full agreement, and so the 2022 race was cancelled and pushed back to 2023.
However, when time came to the release of the 2023 Formula E season schedule, Vancouver was nowhere to be found. Turns out, the relationship between the promoters and Formula E broke down, while the same issues that held back the 2022 race remained. In the end, the Vancouver ePrix was cancelled for good, and sadly no plans are in place for any return.
According to The Race, the entire debacle started with the land owners, who demanded more money than the pre-agreed amount in January 2022. As the promoters tried to negotiate a new deal, at some point during the negotiations, the land owners made an exorbitant demand that left the promoters and investors baffled. This was the point where the problems started to compound and became irreversible.
As a local who has lived in Metro Vancouver for the past four years, it was extremely disappointing. The unnamed land owners’ greed kickstarted the entire chain of problems, robbing Vancouver of business opportunities, sabotaging fans who were looking forward to the race, and Canada’s motorsport community experiencing yet another setback.
On the other hand, the organisers had their share of mishaps too, as they weren’t approaching the situation correctly. They repeatedly submitted incomplete documents that were vital to the hosting of the Grand Prix, such as stages, grand stands, safety plans, and the like. These are critical failures on the organisers’ part, and not to mention, most of the fans who purchased a ticket for the race have yet to receive refunds from the ticketing company to this day.
The city council of Vancouver didn’t do much to help either. Vancouver has been notorious for not supporting events in any way, and Formula E saw no exception go their way. The organiser group had to cover the entire cost of hosting the event, including policing, building grandstands, logistics, and negotiating land use, which costs tens of millions of Canadian dollars, solely funded by sponsors/investors and ticket sales.
Of course, it shouldn’t be expected for the city to fork out 25 million taxpayer dollars like Montréal did. However, the city offered no vocal support for the event, and didn’t assist the negotiations to bridge the gap between the parties. That showed the level of commitment, or lack thereof, from the mayor and his council.
As a Canadian, it is disappointing to see that yet another attempt to bring Formula E to Canada fails terribly. It is even more disappointing and shocking that despite selling well over 33,000 tickets, the people running the show still couldn’t get the race going.
It’s hard to imagine that Vancouver will get another chance at hosting a Formula E race, as the FIA now knows the number of hurdles they have to jump over in order to get a race up and running in the “No Fun City”.