City of Nanaimo proposes borrowing $80 million for event centre

NANAIMO – City believes top-of-the-line centre can be constructed for less.

The City of Nanaimo proposes borrowing $80 million for a new event centre, but still wants the bells and whistles proposed by consultants.

The city has released financing details for construction and operation of an event centre, now estimated at $70 million, with an additional $10 million for south downtown area utility services, such as an access road into 1 Port Dr.

Consultants recommended a one-of-a-kind project of $86.6 million, with 8,300 seats for concert goers and more square metres for guest services. The city wants everything and believes it can be achieved with $70 million, according to city chief financial officer Victor Mema, who said the numbers that had been provided to the city were padded with contingencies.

“We are saying at $70 million, not at $87 million, you can build everything that we’ve asked for,” he said.

Council discussed the proposal after press time Wednesday. It shows money for annual debt service will come from sources like hotel tax, a new strategic infrastructure reserve and current property taxes, but the city states development, construction and operations of the centre won’t result in a tax increase.

It also says operations of the centre will be fully funded with internally generated money, such as rental, ticketing and concessions.