Editorial: Hotel progress has city hopeful

Check-in time is still a ways away, but Nanaimo’s downtown hotel could be closer to breaking ground.

Check-in time is still a ways away, but the city’s downtown hotel could be closer to breaking ground.

SSS Manhao, the tourism group building the conference centre hotel, held a signing event with the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Notably, it wasn’t a shovels-in-the-ground photo op – construction hasn’t started, the timeline apparently pushed back by bylaw minutiae – but it’s the closest we’ve come to putting a hotel on that site.

This week’s signing event indicates, at least, that the parties continue to co-operate and plan to see this project through. These gestures are appreciated. Considering the Millennium hotel tease last decade, taxpayers of Nanaimo can be forgiven for being high-maintenance and needing this sort of reassurance from time to time.

Obviously the City of Nanaimo has staked a lot on this conference centre hotel – it was imagined as a pillar of downtown revitalization, and it still can be. The Vancouver Island Conference Centre has been mostly just a status symbol, too often empty, and a hotel should help. The Harbour City has much to recommend it as a conference destination, and we hope that some of the lack of activity on that front has honestly come down to concerns over hotel capacity.

SSS Manhao has made lofty promises about attracting tourists, and whether it’s vacationers or conference-goers coming here, a more bustling downtown is a win for Nanaimo. Aside from tourism figures and economic impact, this hotel has potential to improve our city’s look and feel, allure, reputation and status.

It’s great the hotel deal is signed, and we’re anxious for ground-breaking. Because each storey that is constructed, we hope, can bring our downtown closer to where we would like it to be.

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