Nanaimo Tourism Corporation; Legacy Projects; New Waterfront Plans

Nanaimo Council was busy for most of Monday night discussing the end of Tourism Nanaimo and the start of a new organization. This new organization will be referred to in this article as Nanaimo Tourism Corporation (NTC), for lack of a better name.

Before the NTC is up and running, tourism services are going to be split up between DNBIA and Tourism Association of Vancouver Island (TAVI). Also, there is a bid out for the marketing and tourism services for the VICC and the City’s tourism services which closes at the end of November. The City will see what quality of bids they get.

The Public Speaks:

A total of six delegates spoke about the new direction of tourism—five spoke on how they didn’t want the DNBIA to run the tourism visitor centres in town and one spoke about the proposed NTC and its structure.  Here is some of what they had to say:

Speaker 1:  We are not happy with how DNBIA is spending our money. You are recommending that all the Nanaimo tourism centres be transferred to the DNBIA for an undisclosed amount of money. Is the DNBIA the best to look after tourism services? We are not happy with DNBIA and the $230,000 to be handed to DNBIA. Expanding the DNBIA reach is not what we had in mind when we spoke here last month. The DNBIA have received millions. Where is the accountability?

Speaker 2:  I’m disappointed with DNBIA. Get some VIU students to run the tourism centres or look at other alternatives.

Speaker 3:  I’m not happy. Downtown Nanaimo looks like a ghetto right now with the burned out building around the corner. DNBIA  is already under question. We don’t see a lot of improvements for our money.

Speaker 4:  All of Nanaimo needs promoting. Not just downtown. We need a different group to promote Nanaimo. Not the DNBIA.

Speaker 5:  DNBIA is not handling the money very well. Now more money is going to the DNBIA! What are they doing now? The $10,000 we pay in taxes on Victoria Crescent needs to be spent in a better way. I have never had a phone call or visit from the DNBIA. This city needs tourism. We need to get the best value for our money. We need those funds going to our street.

Speaker 6: This report recommends that tourism centres go to DNBIA and destination marketing goes to TAVI and another group unknown yet will look after marketing of VICC and then another group will look after the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT.) There is no mention of what happens to social media and the Tourism Development Fund and production development and the VICC and sport tourism and the MRDT funds. Any new plans should include the integration of these funds.

What is our next our step? We are worried. We have not discussed splintering things off.  We are worried we will be stuck for two years with no plan. We need assurances that we are going in the right direction. We need the right mix of people in the [proposed Nanaimo Tourism Corporation].

Council discussion:

Brennan: Is there a clear understanding of what is happening?

Staff: …there is some confusion…we have moved quickly and we are explaining it again here tonight…

CAO: …we are not going to get consensus on this…we are coming up with a process …best options…

Brennan: ….We are doing committee work here tonight…we should put the brakes on this and get some degree of buy-in from the people most involved…

Kipp: …we did this five years ago…get the experts going on this…get a strategic planning committee…

Bestwick:…let’s get on with it…I don’t understand why we need visitor centres…that’s why we have Google…let’s get automated…

Hong: …tourism industry wants stability…

Yoachim: …let’s get this rolling…

Brennan: …the experts came and said they need more time…

Fuller: …only one expert came tonight…let’s get this committee going…

McKay: …the City is only one stakeholder…there are many other stakeholders involved…look at the Whistler tourism model…we need Maureen Douglas…if she is available?….she should run this…as a facilitator…

Councillors Brennan, Mckay, Pratt, Thorpe opposed the half-page long motion to set up the new Nanaimo Tourism Corporation.
Councillors Fuller, Yoachim, Hong, Kipp, Bestwick approved the new Nanaimo Tourism Corporation and it passed.

A multi-phase process was proposed over 15 months but this new NTC could happen sooner. The Communications Manager provided Council with a working timeline.

Legacy Projects – temporary ice rink

Councillor Bestwick made mention that Nanaimo needs some legacy projects.  This week it is a temporary outdoor rink and activities for as high as $500,000. Next week the Events Centre for as high as $83 million.

Council waited until 11pm at night to put the temporary ice rink at Maffeo Sutton Park to a vote. Everyone approved it except Mayor McKay.

Rogers HomeTown Hockey Event

The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour will be in Nanaimo for two days in 2017— Saturday February 25th: 12pm-6pm,  and Sunday February 26th: 12pm-7:30pm. One part of the event requires a temporary ice rink. The other part of the event is having Swy-A-Lana Lagoon transformed into a floating platform for a variety of activities.

After the event, the floating docks used will be moved to the Brechin Boat Ramp, Brechin Rowing Dock, Diver Lake Park and Colliery Dam Park. The project cost of the docks is $271,000. The cost of the temporary ice rink is $325,000.

Council discussion

Yoachim: … we spent $8 million on Colliery Dam what legacy is that…we need a positive family event experience…many people are excited about this…My family will enjoy this…

Fuller: …this temporary ice rink will take the pressure off of Frank Crane Arena…I like the idea…  I remember going to school in Toronto…skating outside of City Hall…I left the Maritimes…I can see opportunities for kids…to get that enjoyment…with global warming…do this once and if it goes well then every year…

McKay: … wish we had a budget for this… there is no budget for $325,000…I love to skate outside …spending $200,000 and all we have left over is $57,000 worth of mats …that we use for two weeks…

Bestwick: …this temporary ice rink will give us more positive  exposure…attract people downtown…we have made little investment in our town….we don’t invest in ourselves… …we will be able to say we did something that no one else has done…they estimate we will get $1 million in ad revenue…we didn’t have a chance to put forward a budget…think of the legacy we will leave behind…cool and fun…

Brennan:…I support this…I think it is a very good lesson on how NOT to plan an event…too little time to put this together…hope we get lots of people out for this…My family will have fun with it…

Hong:…we missed Slide The City…this City needs some fun…can we use the rink for Canada 150 [in July]?

Pratt:…I like the idea…we could build on this…I used to skate on ponds…I support it..

Thorpe:…exciting change…plus with the Events Centre…

Kipp:…it sounds like a lot of money but it’s not… we spent $357,000 on soil…

It was suggested that 8,000 people are expected to come down to Maffeo Sutton Park for the Rogers HomeTown Hockey Event.

There was one speaker who waited until almost 11pm to speak about their concerns that the City of Nanaimo was neglecting its basic core services such as recycling and filling pot holes, while focusing on one time events.

Will we get a referendum?

Odds are very high that Council will vote to approve the Events Centre (Multiplex) in December when everyone is busy holiday shopping.

Recently, former mayor Gary Korpan wrote a letter to the Nanaimo News Bulletin and advised that taxpayers need to hold onto their wallets tightly because a sports multiplex/events centre won’t generate revenue for Nanaimo. In fact it will require taxpayer subsidies (much like the VICC).  Mr. Korpan quoted former Councillor and professional hockey player Larry McNabb who himself opposed a sports events centre, “…hockey is a great game but I ain’t putting Nanaimo taxpayers in the poorhouse.”

Here are the results of our poll on twitter:

Council seems to be on its own course. Deaf as a post. Let’s hope they don’t put us all in the poorhouse.

Emergency Plan

A consultant will be hired to work with staff to develop and implement a business and emergency continuity plan. The cost of the plan is expected to be upwards of $125,000.

Why do we need to hire so many consultants when over 750 people work at the City?