Nanaimo residents polled on proposed sports and entertainment centre

NANAIMO – The city hired a company to do phone surveys to 500 random Nanaimo homes on proposed sports and entertainment centre.

If the phone rings, you could be asked to weigh in on a new sports and entertainment centre in Nanaimo.

The City of Nanaimo hired Edmonton-based Banister Research and Consulting for $16,000 to survey 500 random homes over the phone as part of public engagement on the sports and entertainment centre.

An effort to get residents to weigh in on the proposed multi-purpose building launched last month, book-ended by a more than $240,000 study being done by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects. The company presented its initial work in November, and is now working on a second phase that involves formalized meetings with the Western Hockey League, a more detailed technical review of the top two locations for a centre. A report is heading to council Dec. 19, along with information on what the public has to say about the project.

According to Philip Cooper, city communications manager, an additional $38,000 on top of consulting work has gone to mail outs to households about how people can submit feedback, the phone survey, and a public engagement feedback report where data has been compiled and analyzed. The report will be done externally as Cooper said there’s not the skill set at the city.

Dollars for the phone survey are coming from a portion of the money set aside for a citizen satisfaction survey that won’t be done this year.

Mayor Bill McKay, asked about expense on public feedback in the feasibility process, said he wasn’t aware it was being done separately from the study, but that staff wants to give council as much information as possible by Dec. 19.

The centre is not a done deal as far as McKay is concerned, who’d like to see more public engagement and ultimately a referendum.

“I want the community to decide,” he said. “I don’t believe that I’ve ever been authorized to make this big of a decision for the community.”

Coun. Gord Fuller said people want to know what’s going on and he thinks getting information and engaging the public right away is the best way to do it. He’s hoping to get a sense of what the public wants.

People attend an open house at Beban Park Thursday (Dec. 8) to share opinions about the sports and entertainment centre, which BBB Architects showed could cost between $62-$83-million depending on features and size and sit at the city-owned 1 Port Dr. or the Howard Johnson hotel site. There’s also a survey and feedback e-mail available on the city website, and drop boxes at civic facilities where people can leave forms. For more information, please visit the city’s new public engagement page at www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/municipal/public-engagement.html.

Cooper said the goal is to try and make as many different methods available for people to provide input.

“It’s a big project and it’s dependent on making sure we hear from the community,” said Cooper. “And council, at this point in the process, wants to be in an informed position to hear what the public thinks about this kind of proposed event centre.”

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