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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Conference Centre in the News

Nanaimo's illustrious fiasco the Vancouver Island Conference Centre has been in the news a fair bit lately. On one hand you have a reporter talking about how it has been responsible for a positive impact on the Downtown PNC changed the downtown, "People have criticized the decision to build the $75million Port of Nanaimo Centre, calling it a giant waste of money, but when you look at the impact this facility has had on the downtown and this city, the skeptics don't have much of an argument anymore." " Without a doubt, the number of pedestrians in the downtown has increased with the opening of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre."

On the other hand you have reporters not so supportive, see links at end of post.

When I read the above story I was blown away by the bullshit and so sent in the following letter;

I strongly disagree with Derek Spalding’s synopsis of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre effect on the Downtown of Nanaimo.

He states “the number of pedestrians in the downtown has increased with the opening of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. And every year this award-winning facility has shown growth in the number of delegates coming to the city,” ludicrous to say the least.

While it has suffered growing pains since changing from the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership to the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association it is the many people and businesses involved in the downtown that have contributed to increased foot traffic. More open businesses on weekends and the ever increasing number of events have far more to do with increased pedestrian use than the VICC, it also being there is just mere coincidence.

Recently it was announced that conference centre usage was down 20% from last year and an earlier story in the Daily News mentioned a 68% decrease. Based on projected delegate numbers, when compared to delegate space, the VICC will only be operating at less than 2,5% capacity. How this equates to growth I do not know.

Certainly while the VICC now sits empty there are more and more people coming into the downtown; yes if/when uses for the centre are broadened then and only then will the VICC have an impact.

Above as published August 31st, PNC has not had an impact on downtown . Another letter I had published a few days prior also touches on the conference centre City has great potential to create prosperity

It is time that the truth was told and the folly admitted to by those responsible for the huge expenditures that taxpayers of Nanaimo are paying, and will for years to come, for the Conference Centre. Blame it on the lack of a hotel or the recession but the reality is and always was that these types of large facilities will always be a drain on the citizens of the communities they are in. The only way to mitigate this drain is to allow for other uses and make it possible for those uses to take place.

This in and of itself is another issue that the city and management of the conference centre have failed at doing, Liquor licence delay cancels body painting

August 31: Letter: Dan Appell Many reasons are behind downtown revitalization
Sept 7Taxpayers dole out big bucks to operate public facilities
August 25Unlikely profits mean conference centre hotel a long way off
Philip Wolf: No hotel, no big surprise

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