Formula E’s cancelled Vancouver race’s organisational failures revealed in official documents

OSS ‘continually failed or neglected to comply’ with standard requirements and still owe ticket refunds.
  • Inaugural Vancouver ePrix had been due to take place from 30th June to 2nd July this year
  • Thousands of ticket-buyers still without refunds
  • Race organiser OSS Group’s CEO insists event will take place in 2023

Organisers of the cancelled Formula E race in Vancouver ‘continually failed or neglected to comply’ with standard event permit requirements, contributing to the ePrix’s downfall, according to local autothority documents.

Internal city hall communications, obtained by Postmedia News through a freedom of information request, highlighted fears with the proposal from One Stop Strategy (OSS) Group.

OSS was set to be the promoter and organiser of all-electric series Formula E’s first race in Vancouver, Canada this year. However, the ePrix never got off the ground, with the documents highlighting various ‘risks’, ‘challenges’ and ‘concerns’ associated with the company’s proposal.

‘Staff recognise the importance of the events sector to the local economy and will proactively work with tourism and hospitality partners to identify events that are the right fit for Vancouver and support our destination profile and economic rebuild,’ the March 2021 internal communication said.

It added: ‘If for any unforeseen reason, the event cannot take place and the city does not provide the permit — there is significant risk of reputation and financial concerns for the City of Vancouver.’

OSS had been pushing for a Vancouver Formula E event, dubbed ‘Canadian E-Fest’. But several areas required ‘additional attention’, the city statement said, ‘in particular the nature of the request and the timeline which presented significant challenges’.

Matters were further complicated in March 2022 when OSS missed deadlines to provide documents required for a permit. City staff attempted to provide ‘reasonable leeway’ to help facilitate the event but were left frequently frustrated by OSS.

‘OSS has routinely submitted incomplete submittals lacking the information previously requested by city staff,’ said a document from April 2022.

Complete information on key elements such as schedules, a public safety plan, as well as engineer’s drawings for stages and grandstands, look to have never been provided.

Despite OSS saying it had sold more than 33,000 tickets, the group announced in April that the event would not go ahead on the Canada Day long weekend.

Formula E has urged OSS to refund fans. However, the Vancouver Sun reported last week that two months after OSS told ticket-holders the refund process would begin, there had been no updates for those looking to get their money back.

“The ticket holder will be informed every single step of the way as to how they get their money back, what the situation is, what the solution is,” OSS chief executive Matthew Carter told Vancouver-based news outlet TheBreaker in July. “Right now, legally, I am not allowed to tell you another more.

“I cannot give you a date, because legally I am not allowed. I cannot tell you where the money is held, because legally I’m not allowed.”

Initially, it was hoped that fans would be able to transfer their tickets to next year’s race, but Formula E terminated all contracts with OSS in June, with Vancouver not featuring on the provisional 2023 calendar.

However, Carter told the Vancouver Sun that he expects the ePrix to take place next season.

“They will not say anything publicly until everything’s arranged, but there will be a race in Vancouver next year,” he said.

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