Event organizer

Formula E fan has ‘no faith’ in motor race organizer as city returns $500,000 deposit for canceled event

Vancouver is refunding the $500,000 deposit for a major international electric car race that was due to take place earlier this month before organizers pulled out.

The two-day event was due to start on July 2 and included a concert by Nickelback, before being canceled by its organizer, One Stop Strategy (OSS) Group, which had previously announced that it would be postponed until next year.

But four weeks after the original date of the canceled event, ticket holders have complained that they are not receiving refunds. The city said its refund of the organizer’s performance guarantee payment for the event was conditional on refunding fan money.

It was to be the first Formula E event in the city and billed as an economic boon, selling thousands of tickets to races in the False Creek area.

One of those fans waiting for a refund is Andrew Chobaniuk, who said he couldn’t get a response after repeated requests from organizers and ended up reporting it to his credit card company.

She refunded him the $210 he paid for four tickets to see the Vancouver races.

“Absolutely no word from the Formula E organizers despite numerous emails to them,” he told CBC News in an email. “Received a refund from my credit card company pending investigation.”

“It’s disappointing – you can’t wait for motor racing to finally return to Vancouver after all these years, and you feel ripped off. Given the lack of communication from the organizers…I have no faith in OSS.”

One Stop Strategy Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday.

The decision came ‘after a thorough review’ with the city

On Friday, the city said its bail return would have “no financial impact” on its budget, and was only made on the condition that “the funds be used by OSS to pay its financial obligations.” , including reimbursement of ticket holders, suppliers, or event sponsors.

“Questions about funds paid or reimbursed by OSS to ticket holders, suppliers, sponsors and/or other potential creditors should be directed to OSS,” the city said in a statement.

A prototype electric Formula E racing car is seen on a display stage at the CeraWeek energy conference in Houston in this file photo from 2019. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

On April 22, the city announced that the event organizers had canceled the event, exercising their rights under the Host City Agreement. At the time, the city said in a statement that it hoped to “announce a new date in the near future.”

At the time of the cancellation, the OSS said the “incredibly difficult” decision was made “after careful consideration” with the city.

“Delivering a world-class event is of the utmost importance” to the band, he said, promising to communicate with ticket holders “to inform [them of] their choices. »

Com. Michael Wiebe co-sponsored a motion last year supporting the organization of the event in the city.

“I know the management company didn’t work here, but I still believe it can be a great event,” he said in an interview on Friday. “It was going to be a big weekend, I’m disappointed because it’s an opportunity for Vancouver.”

He withdrew from the vote on the refund of the deposit issued by the city because he bought tickets for the canceled event himself and is now one of thousands of people who have not yet received a refund. repayment.

“I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll be waiting at the back of the line,” Wiebe said. “I want to make sure the people who really deserve the funding get it.

“We’re saying, ‘If you’re going to take the $500,000 return, there are certain people that need to be paid, and the funding can only go to specific things… That includes ticket holders, vendors, and others. .

Controversial races

Formula E races have been controversial in other cities.

In 2017, Montreal city officials announced that they would end a Formula E race that was scheduled to take place in that city the following year.

The mayor said the event was “heading straight for a financial fiasco” and taxpayers would be liable for $35 million.

But a year ago, the City of Montreal agreed to pay a $3 million settlement to Formula E Operations, which runs electric car races around the world. He had sued the city for $16 million after the city canceled its events in 2018 and 2019.

Formula E is not the organizer of the Vancouver event, although it appears to have some degree of oversight when it comes to the OSS Group-promoted race, which is part of the Formula E series.