Councillors call for report about conference centre

NANAIMO – Council wants funding options for an updated review of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

It is time to consider making decisions on the conference centre, according to Mayor Bill McKay, who says there’s community disappointment in its performance and concerns about ever-increasing subsidies.

City staff members will look into funding for an updated evaluation of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, which is slated to come up in 2015 budget talks.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting last week, civic politicians scrapped a staff recommendation to get a $25,000 independent analysis and partial update of a 2004 market feasibility study.

Suzanne Samborski, the city’s senior manager of culture and heritage, said the work would have looked at industry trends, demand projects and what council could expect over the next five years, pointing out the last update was done prior to the economic downturn in 2008 and accounted for a hotel. However, council opted to postpone the issue until budget discussions and have city staff members look at funding options for an updated evaluation.

McKay told the News Bulletin there’s no reason the city can’t do its own internal review. He also says it’s timely to look into the conference centre with a potential hotel operator that’s interested in operating the civic facility but is currently working through the hotel building process.

“I think it’s time to look at perhaps making some decisions about that building,” he said. “If we find out, for example, that building is twice as big as it needs to be or two-thirds bigger than it should be than maybe we can repurpose part of that building because regardless of how big it is, as it stands right now, if you are only ever occupying half of the building then why don’t you put the other half to work?”

Coun. Bill Yoachim, who made the motion to bring up the centre in budget talks, said the dynamic and climate has changed since the last report in 2004 and he wants a fresh perspective on best uses and demand. What’s happening today isn’t sustainable or fair to taxpayers, he said.

The latest operating results from the City of Nanaimo shows the Vancouver Island Conference Centre is expected to post a $102,000 deficit at the end of the year, thanks to fewer bookings and lower than anticipated revenue. Since its first full year in 2009, the centre has gone over budget three times and taxpayers have paid more than $900,000 annually in operating subsidies.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Commute in Nanaimo slowed as SUV goes up onto highway barrier, gets stuck

Accident happened at 5 p.m. on old Island Highway and Highland Boulevard

Seven years later, Nanaimo’s animal trapping bylaw still isn’t approved

Animal trapping bylaw requires provincial approval before it can be adopted

Juno-nominated Nanaimo teen Lauren Spencer-Smith to appear on ‘American Idol’

Singer up for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for ‘Unplugged, Vol. 1’

Nanaimo Clippers goalie chosen his team’s MVP

Jordan Naylor and teammates honoured at hockey club’s year-end award banquet

New minister leading services at St. Andrew’s in Nanaimo

Rev. Greg Darjes returned this month to the church in the Old City Quarter after 18 years elsewhere

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read