Formula E nixes 2023 Vancouver race, cuts ties with local organizers

The international group that runs the Formula E circuit says it expects local organizers to fully refund tickets purchased for the canceled 2022 event

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Vancouver will not be included in the 2023 Formula E calendar, Postmedia News has confirmed, after the international group that runs the annual electric car-racing circuit said it has cut ties with local organizers.

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The news comes after the Formula E race and festival planned for Vancouver for this summer, called Canadian E-Fest, was abruptly canceled in April. At that time, the organizers of the Vancouver event, Montreal-based OSS Group, told media and ticketbuyers the event was not canceled but “postponed” until 2023.

But in an emailed statement on Friday, Formula E told Postmedia News: “Following the cancellation of the 2022 Vancouver E-Prix by OSS Group and after careful consideration, Formula E has terminated all contractual agreements with OSS Group, the promoter and operator of the Vancouver E-Prix.

“We therefore confirm that Vancouver will not be included in the provisional race calendar for 2023 when it is published in the coming days. We retain active interest in delivering an E-Prix in Vancouver in the future,” the statement from Formula E said.

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“Formula E is mindful that many fans have purchased tickets to the Canadian E-Fest, which included the Vancouver E-Prix, from OSS Group. We expect OSS Group to ensure that it proceeds to a full refund of these tickets and to provide details on this process in the short term.”

Despite this, OSS Group’s CEO said Friday they were still hopeful they would be able to work with Formula E to make a 2023 event happen for Vancouver.

Before the 2022 Canadian E-Fest’s cancellation, representatives of the OSS Group said they had sold more than 30,000 tickets to the Vancouver event, which was to include a Nickelback concert. After announcing the event had been “postponed,” OSS Group contacted ticket holders and said their tickets would be good for the rescheduled 2023 Vancouver Formula E race.

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Several of those buyers, however, wanted refunds and not tickets for 2023, and expressed frustration that OSS Group had not provided refunds when requested.

Mike Elsianga spent $972 on four tickets to the event and has “concerns” about whether he’ll get any of it back.

“Are they going to be forthright in providing a refund?” he said. “Because their first approach was to not communicate anything. And their second approach was to say ‘We’ll just hang on to your money for next year.’ Is the money there? Are they going to be able to provide us a refund?”

Elsianga follows the Formula E race circuit on television.

“There’s Rome, there’s New York, there’s Berlin, London,” he said. “It’s a world-class race. It would have been nice to have Vancouver on the stature of the other cities that are hosting. But I guess these people have ended up embarrassing us on the world stage by not being able to put something together.”

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In the weeks leading up to the 2022 event’s cancellation in April, Postmedia reported that OSS Group had missed deadlines at city hall, and had not yet secured necessary permits or contracts for the event, but the organizers said at that time that the event was still on track.

Postmedia News reached OSS Group CEO Matthew Carter Friday morning by phone. When a reporter asked about Formula E terminating contracts and confirming Vancouver will not be included in the 2023 calendar, Carter said: “No comment from my side” and hung up the phone.

Later, Carter phoned back and said that even though Vancouver will not be included in Formula E’s provisional calendar for 2023, he was still hopeful OSS Group would be able to work with Formula E in time to get a Vancouver event added to next summer’s circuit later on.

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Carter said OSS Group is working with Vancouver council and staff and hopes to have city approval for a 2023 event by the end of July.

“We need to get something from the city and from council before summer recess, so really in the next month, I would say, we’d need to get something from the councilors and from city staff that gives us something credible, and then we go back to the stakeholders,” Carter said. “And then we make sure that we just fill in the blanks that weren’t filled in this year.”

Asked how confident he was that OSS Group would be able to put on a 2023 Formula E event for Vancouver, Carter said: “I’m reasonably optimistic based on the amount of work we did this year. I mean, we were two months out from the event, and we had probably done 90 per cent of the work that needed to be done. Based on that, I’m very optimistic.”

Carter said people who bought tickets for the canceled 2022 Canadian E-Fest and want their money back will start receiving refunds in July.

More to eat …

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