Nanaimo mayor talks trade during trip to China

NANAIMO – Mayor Bill McKay joins B.C. Premier Christy Clark on a trade mission to China Nov. 3-11.

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay wants to explore liquefied natural gas opportunities for Nanaimo and meet investors as he joins B.C. Premier Christy Clark on a trade mission in China next week.

McKay is going on a nine-day trade mission to China Nov. 3-11, with Andre Sullivan, chairman of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, in an attempt to build relationships overseas and attract investment.

The trip, which will cover Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai, is estimated to cost the city $15,000 and was announced Monday after an in-camera vote last week.

McKay said he was invited by the B.C. Ministry of International Trade and investors and will join Clark, who is in China, Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a B.C.-Guangdong sister province agreement and promote exports in sectors like liquefied natural gas and clean technology.

Meetings will be held with the premier and independently, according to McKay, who said they have plans to talk to investors about real estate, hotels like the proposed Hilton, and Nanaimo’s readiness for external investment.

Comox Mayor Paul Ives and Mayor of Surrey Linda Hepner will also be on the mission.

“We want to see what opportunities there are going to be for LNG for Nanaimo. We also want to meet face-to-face with potential investment houses that have already expressed an interest in Nanaimo,” said McKay, who anticipates there will be a “tremendous” amount of LNG opportunities relating to construction, machining, parts and fabrication.

Sullivan said they will promote Nanaimo and try to open up dialogue with all the investment projects available, but he also cautions they can’t go there with expectations of making a deal.

“We have to go there with expectations of furthering relationships to unlock these investment opportunities,” he said. “So we can’t go in there in an attempt to close the Hilton, or close the conference centre hotel or close the passenger ferry.”

NEDC has budgeted $15,000 for the trip but Sullivan expects the total will come in around $10,000.

This is the second trip by NEDC since 2014 and follows a bid postponed last August by the mayor to go to China.

Only Coun. Jerry Hong voted against this mission, believing the discussion should have been held in public. He’s also uncomfortable sending the mayor off in a “last-minute rush” without enough information.

“If the public were to ask me, what’s he going for? I don’t know. He’s going on a trade mission. That’s as much information as we were given,” he said.

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