Although I may be prone to confusing the actual events of our current provincial election campaign with plotlines from the HBO series Veep, I think I have this one down: The NDP wants to sell off BC Place Stadium. Or at least they’re thinking about it, should they be elected.
Never mind that no one (so far) wants to buy the thing.
But the move gives the NDP the opportunity to highlight the folly of spending more than half a billion dollars on an over-budget public works job-creation project that in the end doesn’t generate much by way of revenue and may have to be sold at a significant loss to taxpayers.
The big question is what to do with the place right now?
Beyond a couple of dozen football and soccer games and the ever-popular boat show, there doesn’t seem to be much going on underneath that half-billion-dollar retractable roof. It’s not like Paul McCartney is coming back.
And light it up all you want – it looks pretty, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
And so, ever mindful of value to taxpayers, I offer a few modest suggestions:
The VAG at BC Place
The dome is pretty much kitty-corner to Larwill Park, the site the Vancouver Art Gallery has been coveting off and on for the better part of a decade. You want an iconic building? You’ve got it!
Want some extra space to display that 95 per cent of the collection that’s been hidden underground? This place is roomy!
Maybe best of all, moving the VAG into the dome doesn’t preclude other events from continuing. After all, what are monster trucks crushing cars in the shadow of a fire-breathing robosaurus if not performance art?
And with names like Grave Digger, Aftershock and Northern Nightmare, the trucks themselves, like all good art, are steeped in social commentary and existential angst.
Sure, there’s Legoland, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and theme parks based on everything from Playmobil figurines to the New Testament. But this will be the first theme park ever to celebrate British Columbia’s energy future! And what better location than BC Place?
Take a ride on the Frackinator – the roller coaster that takes you on a high-pressure thrill ride deep underground. Let’s crack some shale! The kids will love bouncing in the Bitumen Bubble. Peer into the future and see LNG melt away the province’s debt. (All of it under the retractable roof that added considerably to that debt.)
Grow-opolis: The World’s Biggest Grow Op
As any worthwhile marijuana advocate will tell you, the writing is on the wall: The legalization of cannabis is inevitable. And when that happens, BC Place is poised to be the leader in marijuana cultivation and the major supplier to the rest of Canada. Once the seats are removed, the stadium’s tiered structure will allow for terrace after terrace of hydroponic grow-beds, with the temperature regulated by the retractable roof. Lighting installed during the recent renovation can be modified to illuminate the estimated 7.5 million plants the stadium will be able to accommodate. Not only will the stadium pay for itself in two years, but the operation will also be a major job generator. The seasonal nature of the work, however, may require the province to take advantage of the temporary foreign worker program.
B.C. Museum of the Printed Word / B.C. Museum of Local Film Production
The whole family will marvel as they travel back in time to two major industries of the past. Revel in the glory of yesteryear, when the printed word on paper was how people shared information and even entertained themselves, and to when B.C. was home to a viable film industry. See an actual working web press – the sort of machine they used to use to print newspapers. Walk through the magical gallery of special effects and visual effects created for the movies right here in B.C. by people who used to have jobs doing that kind of thing. All tours are guided by recent journalism and film school grads – so you know they know their stuff!
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One. 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn