Let private interests build multiplex

When we have private enterprises wanting to move forward with plans that benefit our community, it is council’s role to support them.

To the Editor,

Re: Event centre designs, costs presented, Nov. 17.

When we have an established group such as Howard Johnson wanting the go ahead to build a multiplex at their prime location with their own money at a cost of over $50 million (they even said back in June they were hoping to start breaking ground by end of 2016), why is our council instead disrupting that by interfering and delaying the project to the extreme?

Our council is not only wasting the hotel’s time by meddling – it is also using our taxpayer funds to do it by embarking on $240,000 in expensive studies in order to explore all-encompassing partnership opportunities that will incur far greater costs to the taxpayer if a partnership is to happen. Meanwhile, we have a private enterprise eager to get started with its own money. When did council’s role change from finding ways to support private enterprise through infrastructure, tax incentives, and other incentives, to this?

When we have private enterprises wanting to move forward with plans that benefit our community, it is council’s role to support them and get out of the way – not to disrupt and interfere.

Peter UrquhartNanaimo

 

To the Editor,

Re: Event centre designs, costs presented, Nov. 17.

It is not for me to say whether a multiplex facility is feasible or desirable for Nanaimo. Those interested can research similar facilities in small cities in Canada.

Based on our experience with both the Port Theatre and the Vancouver Island Convention Centre, I would urge caution. Neither facility approaches full utilization and both require substantial annual subsidy. Abbotsford’s multiplex, built to attract the AHL Heat hockey team, received a subsidy of $1.6 million in 2015, $1.2 million in 2016 and an estimated $1 million for 2017. The Abbotsford Heat left the city in 2014. In 2015 the Abbotsford Centre attracted just 65,385 to 17 events, with each attendee costing taxpayers $24. This year 154,262 attended 34 events at a cost to taxpayers of $7.75 per visit.

I am concerned with the enthusiasm of CAO Tracy Samra who wants us to embrace art exhibits, cultural meetings, pow-wows, dance- and drum-offs or even monster truck events. I doubt a lack of facilities have precluded such events in the past and based on the Abbotsford experience, attracting a WHL or AHL team might be a mixed blessing at best.

Randy O’DonnellNanaimo