Questions swirl around ownership of B.C. Place's video boards

NDP MLA told by Liberal deputy minister Telus owns exterior screens

Who really owns the Terry Fox Plaza advertising screen that violates City of Vancouvers sign bylaw?

NDP critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said Jobs, Tourism and Innovation deputy minister Dana Hayden told him Dec. 15 that B.C. Place Stadiums three exterior video boards are owned and operated by Telus. The telecom giant, which installed stadium-wide Wi-Fi, high definition monitors and cellphone antennas, was supposed to be B.C. Places naming rights sponsor when it reopened last September.

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I dont think it is appropriate for me to discuss a private conversation I had with anyone with you, Hayden said via email after a phone message from the Courier.

Said Chandra Herbert: I stand by what I was told.

Telus spokesman Shawn Hall declined comment. An emailed statement attributed to B.C. Pavilion Corporation chief executive Warren Buckley said: We are working on our overall sponsorship programming and technology for B.C. Place and as such, cannot comment on the video boards because the entire facility, from top to bottom, is part of these discussions and negotiations.

A Wednesday request to interview minister responsible Pat Bell was denied because he is fully committed until Friday, according to communications manager Carolyn Heiman.

Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said neighbours continue to complain about B.C. Place light pollution. The stadium is governed by the B.C. Enterprise Corporation Act but Meggs will propose on Tuesday that council order city manager Penny Ballem to press PavCo for civic compliance.

Mayor Gregor Robertson complained to Bell in an Oct. 24 letter. The Terry Fox Plaza sign hours were reduced to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but screens facing the Cambie Bridge and Georgia Viaduct continue to light up the night. Council amended the B.C. Place and Rogers Arena event noise bylaw last April, but failed to contemplate large video screens.

Im not certain there are other tools at our disposal if the province decides to use its superior powers, Meggs said.

Area resident David Cookson said legal advice to his Take the Giant Screen Down Now campaign indicates the city has clout.

Legal precedents demonstrate that the screens are indeed subject to municipal bylaw jurisdiction because of the fact they are owned and being operated by a third-party and not the Crown itself, Cookson said.

Cookson pointed to 2000 and 2003 B.C. Court of Appeal judgments against Great Pacific Pumice, which leased Highways ministry land in Squamish to store mined volcanic rock in contravention of the districts land use bylaw.

To begin with the view the mining regime must take precedence over the local government regime is to give precedence where the Legislature stated none, said Justice Carol Huddart in the 2003 verdict.

Originally forecast at $365 million, the budget for the taxpayer-funded stadium renovation jumped to $563 million. Buckley declined to update the cost.

We are in the project wrap-up for the B.C. Place revitalization, he said. Further information will be available when the process is complete.

The sale of naming rights and a proposed casino/hotel complex were supposed to lessen the burden on taxpayers, but neither are guaranteed.

Theres been secrecy about B.C. Place and the massive cost overruns and whos paying for it since day one, said Chandra Herbert. [Liberals] have no plan to ever make it pay for itself. Its just debt.

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