4. What Council Candidates think about a Multiplex.

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Candidates for Council

Over the past term, a motion was filed to build a Multiplex on the wharf lands in the South End, but it was not clear about who would pay for it.  How necessary is a Multiplex?  Who should pay for it…should it be a public or a private enterprise?

I’m all for a Multiplex.  I’m not committed to any location. That has to be decided through proper study of potential locations throughout the city.  I’m uncertain about the need for it, but I am certain that a Multiplex must be a private business venture funded by private interests.  I am opposed to the City of Nanaimo providing any monies, land or services for a Multiplex project.     ~Bill Forbes

It is not clear that a Multiplex is necessary in the present economic climate.  If someone put forward a sound business plan the viability of which was confirmed by independent and professional auditors then this would merit attention. Such a report would have to consider not only the construction cost but the operating costs for this type of venture. It would also have to take into account whether the new facility would render recent similar expenditures redundant or otherwise uneconomical.

Any project which was approved would have to be designed so as to integrate with and enhance the surrounding neighbourhood and host location.     ~Janet Cowling

I consider the wharf lands in the South End as Nanaimo’s “last urban frontier” and do not want to see a Multiplex there!  That land is far too valuable for an operation which would sit empty most of the time, bring too many cars into the down-town core with all the negatives that come with it.  That land should be used to create a healthy mix of low, middle and higher end housing, something which would benefit the maximum number of residents and help to revitalize in a responsible manner.  Some, unfortunately, believe that a conference centre, next to an expanded casino, next to a Multiplex will achieve that…………  This area would also present a perfect location for a central downtown transportation terminal, where an improved public transportation system could eventually be aligned with rail transportation, both normal and light-rapid, as well as a foot-ferry to Vancouver and other transportation possibilities.  If there is to be a Multiplex, it should be done as a private enterprise and without taxpayer’s money or give-away’s of city land as has been done in the past.  DND land, close to the Parkway and Vancouver Island University would be a more appropriate location, in my opinion.     ~Fred Pattje

A private enterprise funded Multiplex should have taken priority before the Conference Center.  The two projects go hand in hand, but only the Multiplex would have been successful if it stood alone.  We do not need a Multiplex on wharf lands, further increasing parking problems.  This is one of the only ideas on the table that will be a major blow to the already struggling economic market in Nanaimo.  A Multiplex in Nanaimo is not as valuable to residents as the Port Place Shopping Center is.

If we must build a Multiplex which will likely further increase our property taxes, we should consider alternate locations for it such as Nanaimo District Senior Secondary Property which will be vacant in a few short years.  We also must be able to make it a 5000 seat building as well as prepare it to be an emergency shelter in case of major disasters.     ~Troy Pearson

My personal view is that a multiplex, similar to the one just completed in the centre of Penticton B.C.’s conference area would be a great complement to the city.  My position is that there needs to be a private company who is the principle… the track record of bureaucracy’s running business has never appealed to me.  There would be a major emphasis on a partnership where the city taxpayer was NOT left holding the bill.  There would be a major amount set aside by the developer/business in trust with the city to cover any chance of failure to perform.  For our city to move into the conference, entertainment, tourism new era, such a structure is a key part of the picture.     ~Jack Arnold

No motion was passed to build a multiplex, and it is not within our immediate plans. We are only looking at possible future sites, trying to preserve that area of the city for future uses, making sure that they fit into the over-all plan for the city and for the south end. A new arena is only one possible element.     ~Larry McNabb

Actually no motion was ever filed, however, the multiplex idea has been on the City’s radar for quite some time (see link for city info). The wharf lands per se, unless one is talking of the Port Authority pier only, are owned by varied private interests. Prior to the last election in 2005 the Friends of Plan Nanaimo had put together the concept of actually combining the Convention Centre with a cruise ship facility, hotel and housing on the wharf lands and lands immediately surrounding them.  The area of the wharf lands was mentioned at one time as an option for the multiplex because of the large amount of space required, lands at Beban Park have also been considered. Personally I think if a multiplex is ever approved the only thing the City should provide is the property to build it on.  Revenues from the Multiplex would then go to the city based on the commercial value of the land contribution.  A facility such as this should not become a burden to taxpayers.     ~Gordon Fuller

I’m not convinced we need a Multiplex, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.  I would definitely want to see a thorough examination of how such a facility would benefit Nanaimo and how the facility would be built and operated before making a decision.  Equally, I’m not at all sure that the waterfront land adjoining the assembly wharf is the best place for such a facility – that land may have a “higher and better use”, as the realtors like to say.  Since the primary users of the facility are likely to be private companies like hockey teams and event organizers, I would want the facility to be paid for by private enterprise, perhaps assisted by senior governments.  Any local government investment in a Multiplex would have to be approved by referendum, in my view.  I would oppose a public-private partnership, as I don’t think those arrangements work very well.

Frankly, I would rather put my efforts this coming term into seeking a foot passenger ferry that would run from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver.  I think that service would clearly benefit Nanaimo in a number of ways.  The benefits of a Multiplex are not nearly as clear (to me).     ~Bill Holdom

I would support a multiplex, but on the University grounds.  We can build access to the parkway, and build a parkade with a transit exchange.  I would like to see it as a mixed private/public enterprise and build it on the old NDSS site.     ~Angela Negrin

A Multiplex would complement the downtown, I not sure that it is necessary.  It must be federally and provincially funded, not built first then ask for funding later when you can’t get it.  I would support a privately funded enterprise with reduced city costs.     ~James Younger

We need more ball fields and ice for our kids we should not have torn down the Civic Arena.  I would be in favor of manning the new complex with city staff not contractors.  We should be able to build it and run it and have a profit left over.  I would want to find a different location than the old wharf lands.     ~Rob Campbell

I believe a multiplex would be a good addition to new facilities for the City of Nanaimo when the population warrants it. I would strongly oppose any public money being put into this concept and believe it should be private enterprise.     ~Diana Johnstone

I’m not sure the multiplex is a necessity but it might be a nice place to have if we can get the central Vancouver Island residents to buy in.  We would need them to be willing to travel to Nanaimo for big shows and games if we want to fill the proposed 5000 seat capacity.  It should definitely be paid for by private enterprise.  The city might be able to come up with a good deal on the land.     ~Terry Lynn Saunders

First, no such motion was passed.  What council asked staff to do was to find the most suitable location for a “future” multiplex project.  Our history of major projects has been that they are built every eight to 10 years – i.e. the Port Theatre, the Aquatic Centre, the Conference Centre, etc.  There is no immediate plan to proceed with such a project unless there is a private operator who wants to make that investment.  We have more pressing issues than a Multiplex at this time.     ~Merv Unger

I think that a multi-plex is one of the next wish list items that our community supports.  I support the idea and concept of what this type of facility brings to a community. Kamloops, Kelowna and similar communities do host large community, sport and concert events that we cannot facilitate. But in my estimation it would require a large private small public partnership arrangement.     ~Jim Kipp

A multiplex is not necessary for Nanaimo’s well being.  I can appreciate the exciting new possibilities such a facility could bring to the city so if the private sector is prepared to pay for it I would welcome it.  If the proposal is for another city-funded mega project in the face of already soaring property taxes my feeling is that it would be extremely irresponsible and I could not support it.     ~Simon Schachner

For clarification, a motion was not filed to build a Multiplex on the wharf lands in the South End.  A motion was approved to identify potential locations within the Downtown Zone for the future siting of a Multiplex.  While the Wharf Lands may be identified by the professional agency enlisted to identify locations and the pros and cons of each, a decision on where to build has not been contemplated or identified.

When thinking of the City of Nanaimo as a City of approximately 90,000 residents and growth projections reaching 120,000 in the next 15 to 20 years, it is important to at minimum contemplate sports, recreation, art and entertainment centres to meet the anticipated growth.  One must also consider the age of existing facilities and size of existing facilities.  Beban Park is reaching a critical stage of its life expectancy and some have suggested it is outdated and too small to meet the emerging needs of our City.

With that said, people are free to form their own opinions on the “necessity” of a Muliplex.  I happen to believe at the heart of every growing and revitalizing City is its culture, which includes first and foremost venues in which to have performances year round, appealing to all citizens.

Without adequate reserves or funding in place, or Provincial participation to build and operate a Multiplex, there is really only one option and that is to partner with a private consortium to build and operate a Muliplex.     ~Bill Bestwick

I’m not in favour of a Multiplex.  It would bring nothing to the South End but parking problems.  To build a multiplex when we need housing is nothing short of cynical.     ~Tim Lander

Over the past few months, I’ve talked to hundreds of people on the street, and only 2 even mentioned a Multiplex as a point of interest.  There was a lot more concern about the lack of hotel or retail tenants in the new convention centre.

A multiplex is a facility of interest, but not a necessity.  Nanaimo’s role would be in facilitating zoning and licensing.  Development costs would have to be private.     ~Pat Squire

A multiplex is very important to Nanaimo especially to the south end. A multiplex in the south end will drive more people into the area helping out local businesses. The only reason a private enterprise would want to build a multiplex is because they see profit in it. If they see profit in it why can’t the city. No matter who funds it a multiplex in the south end needs to be built.     ~Mark Sadhra

A multiplex makes no sense whatsoever.  There is no economic case to be made for one to be built either publicly or privately.  The Frank Crane Arena has a 3,000 person capacity which the Clippers, who are the primary high volume fan base users virtually never fill.  Concerts which would fill a larger capacity facility do not happen often enough to cover the capital or operating cost of such a facility.  In the Victoria and Kelowna examples they have privately built and operated facilities on publicly owned land.  In each case the cities pay over TWO MILLION a year for the public use of these facilities.  That amount tranlates to a 4 % property tax increase to EVERY property owner in Nanaimo.  A multiplex is a complete non-started to me.     ~Blake McGuffie

A Multiplex is as necessary as the money which investors will put up to build it.  A facility built to make a profit for private interests should be built with private money on privately owned land.  If public monies or land are involved it should only be when the project clearly demonstrates a direct and positive return on investment to the public as investors rather than benefactors.  Furthermore the public should only be involved in providing funding or land to the project following a referendum in which clear terms have been approved by the public.

I am against public monies for private projects, but would abide by a decision otherwise based on a referendum vote of our citizens.  I would, however, under any conditions, strongly protest the kind of unclear, constantly reinterpreted, publically subsidized and toothless P3(?) agreement with which we have found ourselves saddled in the Conference Centre.     ~Ron Bolin

How necessary is a multiplex?  It isn’t necessary.  Water, sewer, streets, solid and liquid waste disposal and Fire/Rescue and Police Departments are necessary.  But, if we are looking at economic development depending on the economy at the time, a Multiplex would be great to have.  I don’t believe the City has the funding to pay for a Multiplex.  I am not sure the citizens of Nanaimo would support a public funded venture of this type or possible size after the most recent public/private partnership with the Convention Centre and related Hotel.  Even as I write this there are reports of a severe down turn in the American economy and the good possibility that Canada will follow.  So, it might prove difficult for private funding to succeed as well.     ~Ted Greves

Many believe that Nanaimo needs an Entertainment and Sports Complex that gets us back in step with almost every other major BC city.  I believe this is an important economic driver for Nanaimo, as it brings in revenue from outside the community to watch entertainment and sporting events – as well as creating new jobs.  A Multiplex becomes a catalyst for investment, as downtown Kelowna has demonstrated.  Restaurants and other establishments are immediate beneficiaries prior to and after an event is held.  Nanaimo is a regional centre, and needs a regional facility like a Multiplex.  However, a Multipelx cannot be funded like the conference centre – there is no appetite from taxpayers for another similar major project.  Creative ways need to be found to attract the Private Sector to build and operate a Multiplex.  The Private Sector would do a much better job of running an operation like this.  The bigger question to me, though, is how an offer to build a Multiplex a few years ago featured a guaranteed contract with a locally bonded construction company for $34 Million was not pursued by the City – which is now floating a $75 Million Multiplex.  Who is doing the math and the estimating?     ~Mark MacDonald

The motion was to identify land suited for Multiplex.  To the best of my knowledge there has been no commitment to build and there has been no call for a proposal.  Size and costs would be needed and then the question of who pays would need to be answered.     ~Loyd Sherry

Don’t forget to check out the response to this question from our Mayoral candidates here.

1 Comment

Filed under Answers From Candidates Here, Candidates for City Council, Development in South End, Multiplex

One response to “4. What Council Candidates think about a Multiplex.

  1. Larry Gambone

    Some thoughts on the answers to this question, and answers given at the All Candidates Meeting:

    * Some candidates, by pushing for multiplexes, cruise ship facilities (not to mention Cable Bay) seem blithely unaware of the global economic crisis. Tourism and other forms of expensive entertainment are the first things people cut back on during hard times. The housing market will also decline. We are in uncharted water and do not know how long the crisis will last or how deep it will be. It could last a long time and strangle investment for a decade. Prudence, that long forgotten conservative virtue, should lead us to reign in our expensive desires and concentrate on the survival of our community, targeting especially the most vulnerable members of it.
    * All candidates talk of “sustainability”, yet few show much awareness of the effects of global warming and peak oil, and the need to do something NOW. Thanks to the recession/depression, the price of oil has declined, but when this crisis ends, it will shoot back up again. Other than the candidates who support local food growing, local value-added production, and a rapid increase in public transit, I think the talk of sustainability is mere “greenwashing.”

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