Cancelled Vancouver electric car race takes detour into a Montreal court

The first of five annual Canadian E-Fests was scheduled for June 30-July 2, and its cancellation led to a sports ticketing and travel company suing the promoter of the Vancouver electric car race

The Canadian E-Fest was scheduled to include the ABB Formula E World Championship race around East False Creek streets

A sports ticketing and travel company is suing the promoter of the cancelled Vancouver electric car race and its four principals for more than $3.4 million. 

ATPI Travel and Events Canada Inc. filed a claim Sept. 20 in the Quebec Superior Court against One Stop Stategy Group Inc., and its executives, Matthew Carter, Eric Kerb, Anne Roy and Philip Smirnow. ATPI claims the majority of OSS directors have departed and it fears OSS will go bankrupt instead of paying what it owes the company and ticket holders: $2,789,539 to reimburse ticket buyers and $656,224.46 for ATPI’s service fees and customer refunds. 

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20 in Montreal.

“The defendants have absolutely no intention to refund customers and comply with their obligations,” the ATPI claim said. 

The first of five annual Canadian E-Fests was scheduled for June 30-July 2, including a Nickelback concert, environmental conference, e-sports tournament and ABB Formula E World Championship race around East False Creek streets. In April, the event was postponed to 2023 due to the OSS failure to obtain permits from public and private landowners. Vancouver wasn’t included on the 2023 race schedule in June when Formula E terminated its contract with OSS.

ATPI’s court filing said it agreed Sept. 29, 2021 to be the ticket seller with a contract that required OSS to fully refund ATPI and ticket buyers within 30 days of any cancellation. 

ATPI’s claim states trouble appeared April 15 when it was informed that the event “would allegedly be postponed” and that Carter was to meet with City of Vancouver, Formula E and key suppliers. 

"ATPI was not aware nor was it informed by defendants that at that time, OSS had already

been notified by the City of Vancouver that the latter had terminated its agreement with OSS regarding the event, given OSS' failure to comply with their obligations,” said the lawsuit. 

ATPI said it discovered June 17 through a Formula E media statement that the race was not postponed, but cancelled and that OSS’s contract with Formula E had been terminated. 

On June 27, ATPI demanded all ticket sale proceeds from OSS and eligible costs so that it could refund customers. But, it claimed, OSS refused. 

“Consequently, many consumers have been addressing their reimbursement requests

directly to ATPI, by proceeding to ‘chargebacks’ through their credit card companies which have been debiting the refunds from ATPI's account.”

ATPI alleged the chargebacks have cost it $560,000 so far and that OSS ignored its Aug. 2 demand letter. 

“[OSS and its executives] clearly tried to elude their obligations towards ATPI and consumers, by refusing and/or neglecting without any valid reason to see to the reimbursement of ticket holders.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court and OSS has not responded. 

At the end of July, city council decided behind closed-doors to direct staff to refund the $500,000 deposit to OSS, even though the city’s contract allowed it to keep the sum. Talks between the city and OSS broke down in mid-August when OSS balked at the city’s insistence that a mutually agreed lawyer be retained to ensure the funds were properly disbursed to ticket holders and suppliers. 

“It’s impossible for us to accept it, and they knew that,” Carter, the OSS CEO, said in a brief phone interview Aug. 22. “I will give you an update when I’m allowed to. All I can confirm is we have not received any of the funds.”

The Jan. 26 contract between city hall and OSS, obtained under freedom of information, said OSS was responsible for all costs of producing the event, including city engineering and police services. It also agreed to pay overtime costs due to holding a downtown core event on Canada Day weekend — a date typically blacked-out for new major events. 

Carter said 33,000 tickets were sold to the event, but did not say how many were full price to the public versus freebies for sponsors. 

Green Party Coun. Mike Wiebe and ABC Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung co-sponsored the April 2021 city council motion to bring Formula E to Vancouver.