Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Conference Centre Lesson

Sooke Looking Into
Conference Centre Proposal

Our friends to the south in Sooke are considering partnering in a new conference centre as part of a new waterfront hotel development.

They seem to be entertaining a much friendlier deal than was negotiated for the taxpayers of Nanaimo. Of course on first blush sometimes things look better than they turn out.

But in a nutshell according to a Times Colonist article here is the deal they are considering:

A company called Prestige Sooke Holdings is going to build a 128 room waterfront hotel which will include a conference centre capable of hosting conferences of up to 400 delegates.

The cost to the district is to pay Prestige Sooke Holdings $300,000 per year for five years for the use of the conference centre. The district has the use of the conference centre for 12 days per month free of any additional charge for a period of five years.

The district would let non-profits in the community use the faciltity for no charge. The agreement for terms of rental at the end of five years would be renegotiated.

On the surface this looks like a vastly superior deal than the one Nanaimo taxpayers now own, but of course that is based on the initial story and we all know that terms have a nasty way of changing as things progress.

However, if the district is only committing to $300,000 per year for five years, which basically is pre-renting the conference centre 12 days per month and they end up with a 128 room hotel and a conference centre in little old Sooke it looks pretty darn good when compared with our convention centre.

As a refresher, our centre cost at least $72 million and is currently costing $800,000 per year to operate. And we still don't have a hotel which pretty much limits our convention sizes to not much bigger than Sooke could draw.

The Times Colonist story can be viewed using this Nanaimo Info LINK.


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