Editorial: Conference centre is up for review

The recommendations include ways to take actions that don’t necessarily depend on significant new investment of taxpayer dollars.

City of Nanaimo services held up under the examination of a core review. Now they need to withstand the scrutiny of citizens.

The municipality is holding an e-town hall meeting on Monday (Sept. 12) to gather feedback about the core services review and its recommendations and implications.

Some discussion we look forward to hearing surrounds the Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s operations. As detailed elsewhere in today’s issue of the News Bulletin, the core services review has suggested the conference centre needs to be integrated into broader economic development and tourism strategies.

Taxpayers have come to terms with the idea that this conference centre isn’t going to be able to balance its own books. Even with an adjacent hotel, the conference centre will depend upon the continuation of its annual million-dollar subsidy.

It’s worth pointing out again that the core review found no other credible uses for the facility.

At next week’s e-town hall meeting, councillors will consider how to adopt the review’s conference centre recommendations, including developing a marketing destination strategy, attracting a quality hotel, and adding performance measurables and incentives to the management contract.

We like the recommendations – they include ways to take actions that don’t necessarily depend on significant new investment of taxpayer dollars. If citizens believe in the building’s potential and the city and council are willing to take greater responsibility, oversight and pride in the amenity, then we think conference business can build on the growth that although relatively modest, is trending the right way.

The conference centre has already had some positive, if hard-to-measure impacts on the look and feel and the potential of Nanaimo’s downtown. It’s as good a time as any to talk about where it needs to go from here.